I wish I could reduce the role that personality plays in generating conflict to being about extroverts and introverts, but to do so would be tantamount to saying being an All-Star professional baseball player is merely about being positive versus negative. It’s just not that simple! But it doesn’t have to be complexly psychological, either.
Think about all the common sense variables that tip us off on the differences of personality. How a person talks. Mannerisms. Attitudes. I could go on and on with factors that figure into the category of personality that play no small part in provoking conflict.
I’ve seen people set off by the tone of a person’s voice. They simply couldn’t stand a guy’s whiny voice. Any time he spoke, one person in general instantly began to exhibit signs of tension. In this instance, the role personality played in inciting potential conflict existed not in the one with the whiny voice but rather in the one who became frustrated.
I know a number of people who cannot talk without their hands moving all over the place with gestures or mannerisms. It is a comfort to them. It helps them. It also is effective in helping get their message across. But I’ve also met people who are frustrated by such mannerisms. For them it is a distraction, and they struggle to communicate with such people without exhibiting frustration. Apparently one person’s medicine is another person’s poison.
And then there are attitudes that people possess about things. I’ve witnessed conflict triggered by pessimistic attitudes on one side. For some, there is simply nothing for which to hope. There’s never any light at the end of the tunnel, and positive thinking people can’t stand the doom and gloom of pessimism. Consequently, I’ve also seen arguments started because some are so positive that they seem to be oblivious to the reality that is around them. These people can make Norman Vincent Peale look like “a glass is half empty” kind of guy. Unfortunately, they come across as disingenuous, untrustworthy, and somewhat offensive to the realist.
While none of the above things are bad in and of themselves, we must be attuned to the fact that there are factors which can incite conflict that are derived from who we are. But because this is so we don’t necessarily have to change who we are. We simply need to be cognizant of the fact that in interpersonal relationships various qualities- regardless of whether they are good or bad- can activate tension in others. And this doesn’t mean we are at fault. It simply means we must be clever enough to work around the factors that make interpersonal relationships such a roller coaster ride to begin with.