Navigating Conflict with a Conflict Personality

Navigating a conflict with a Conflict Personality can be complicated; but it is possible to do!  When a Conflict Personality is involved in a conflict it often gets heated and ends up growing out of proportion or feeling stuck in a blame cycle.

Try these three strategies to help de-escalate conflicts when you are dealing with a Conflict Personality.


  1. Acknowledge responsibility for any mistake you have made that contributed to the conflict. Take full ownership of your own behavior, and apologize. This can often help Conflict Personalities move past blame.
  2. Face the conflict quickly. Ignoring the issue or the Conflict Personality usually means the conflict will grow underground like a volcano.  Better to deal with it before it explodes.
  3. Focus on the future and potential solutions. Avoid the trap of rehashing the past, which often comes with a cycle of justification. Keep moving forward.

Bill Eddy, from the High Conflict Institute, offers an excellent strategy for the negotiation and solution brain storming stage of conflict resolution with High Conflict Personalities.  Make a proposal and encourage the other person to either say (1) Yes, (2) No, or (3) ask clarifying questions or take time to consider.  If they say no, then ask them to make a proposal and you decide whether you want to say yes, no, or get clarification.  When possible, keep the proposals going until you begin to get some progress.

Esther DeWitt, M.S., CAMS, is an organizational psychology practitioner specializing in conflict, emotional management and leadership issues.  She is a Credentialed Mediator and Certified Anger Management Specialist.  As president of Conflict Navigation, her services include mediation, leadership and organizational consulting and training, anger management coaching, and curriculum and material development.

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