The Pleaser Conflict-Personality Type

Conflict gets a bad rap because so many people are “doing” it wrong. Most people don’t look forward to a difficult conversation or situation and many avoid it at all costs which, let’s face it, never works in the long run.

Understanding the four main Conflict Personality Types is the key to confidently navigating and de-escalating or even avoiding conflict altogether. Knowing why people act and react the way they do will go a long way in easing the stress inherent in a difficult conversation or situation.

There are four main Conflict Personality Types;

  • The Pleaser
  • The Perfectionist
  • The Avoider
  • The Victim

Each one of these traits varies in intensity and can be a benefit when we understand their strengths or a weakness if left unrestrained and unexplored. Like my gramma Tiny always used to say “your greatest weakness is your strength overplayed.”

We go through some stages during a conflict, these can happen all at once, or in turn, but they all have the potential to derail a productive exchange. We assume something, expect that something will happen, and some emotions will crop up. That is just the name of the game and the way conflict goes.

The four inherent components of judgment, assumptions, expectations, and emotions combined with your Conflict Personality Type is your path to keeping your intentions clear and to effectively achieve the goal of any difficult conversation. Each one can be seen as a sort of gatekeeper for some fact checking.

The Pleaser Conflict Personality Type will approach conflict in two ways, by fixing some ‘thing’ that they see a potential problem with and by pleasing others in order to placate them. This judgment that it is their responsibility leads to assuming that it is their place to fix it, they expect that this will stave off any potential conflict which would lead to ‘negative’ emotions.

When a pleaser jumps in and tries to fix a problem or issue they can overstep and infringe on the other persons’ boundaries and the perceived issue they are trying to fix may or may not exist.

This is a perfect time to Check-the-Facts.

If the assumption and judgment are correct that there is an issue, then it is their responsibility and they have the power to fix it. Great, that is effective problem solving and when you are clear and verbalize that you understand the problem or issue and that they need to address it, or yourself (if that is the case) are working on fixing ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is while taking responsibility, that is a productive conflict outcome. This is focusing on your intention.

If there is an issue that needs fixing and it is not their responsibility, even if it is within their power to do so, it is not their place to rob someone else from taking care of it themselves or from the importance of natural consequences. Consequences for our actions is a critical part of personal growth.

When a Pleaser puts others happiness before their own the important issues that need to get addressed are often stuffed away leading to resentment and potentially larger problems down the road.

The second way that a Pleaser reacts to conflict is by trying to please everyone in order to avoid a conflict. Although this attribute is sometimes a benefit, it can also muddy the waters.

A Pleaser is great at anticipating the many different ways that people may act and react in conflict and they can correctly infer the other parties intention and what their perceptions and judgments are, this is good and this can be a benefit. However the old adage is true, you can’t please everyone.

If you are a pleaser personality type here are some tips for you.

Slow down and Check-the-Facts.

  • Is it important for you to make this person happy?
  • Does it benefit you while addressing the issue?
  • Are you staying on your side of the net?
  • Does it infringe on your boundaries?

Be aware of what Is in your scope of control, don’t do or offer anything that oversteps your boundaries, the other person’s boundaries, or stops them from experiencing natural consequences. It may lead to you being taken advantage of.

Leave room for the other person to react the way they need to. Often you have been thinking and even ruminating on the outcome of a difficult situation, and the other person is just now being made aware of it, or how you feel about it and hasn’t had the time to process the information yet. Give them time and space to react the way they need to so that they can deal with it in their own way.

If you are in a conflict with a Pleaser Conflict Personality type the same holds true, there are some things that they can control and there are some things that they cannot.

If they are trying to fix a situation that they do not have the control to fix you can thank them, but you can also hold firm that is outside of their scope of control, and there’s a way to do so kindly.

You can also say that you need time to process the new information, and if they’re trying to please you by offering solutions that would lead to them being taken advantage of, even if it might take a load off you, be respectful of their time, energy and boundaries.

Be sure to keep your eye focused on your intention when you lead with intention you can strategize ways of navigating conflict and hold firm to your boundaries.

It is key to note that with particularly difficult clients and a particular conflict, you should have only one intention. It may be to impart a negative outcome and hold space for the person as they process it, it may be to affirm a boundary. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to explain why you have the boundary or make excuses for them, just affirm it and leave room for silence.

Being quite is hard for a Pleaser but it is important to not get tossed around in a “word salad” of explanation that can take the conversation off the rails.

Notice that the expectation and emotion are still there?

It is natural to do a little mind-reading and ‘guess’ how someone will react in a certain way but don’t get bogged down in their judgment about it. The only persons’ behavior you can effect, is your own.

The emotions that arise around a difficult conversation or conflict are still there, whether we are thinking about it, or preparing for it or trying to avoid it all together our body does not know the difference, your brain will release the chemicals in your body either way. That is why having a clear intention and addressing issues or potential issues right away is best. It will lead to less stress and anxiety and save you time and energy.

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Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash


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