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Conflict Behaviour is not the same as Conflict Personality. Personality is hard-wired, behaviour is modifiable, and it’s the behaviour in the end that affects those around you.


Conflict Behaviour determines whether disputants are going to get stuck or are going to go forward.

In contrast to well-known personality tests like the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument or the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics at Eckerd College in Florida, has developed The Conflict Dynamics Profile, an assessment instrument dealing with conflict behaviours. It helps understand the ways we react to a given set of conflict situations.

The instrument is generally broad and comprehensive and one section in particular deals with our so-called ‘Hot Buttons’: nine behaviours that are likely to get a rise out of you. It examines your reaction to others who are:

• Over-analytical
• Unappreciative
• Aloof
• Micro-Managing
• Self-Centred
• Abrasive
• Untrustworthy
• Hostile

You will find two or three very high on your own list of buttons and others that are medium or low. Being aware of your own Hot Buttons gives you a chance to behave differently.


Being aware that everyone has Hot Buttons provides an opportunity to explore and acknowledge those in others, and that also contributes to positive shifts in the ways you handle conflict.

Owning your Hot Buttons is prerequisite for good conflict management, helping to figure out the best ways to interact with those that irk you the most. If you can moderate your own behaviour to respond in ways that defuse and lead to better interaction, your own conflict competence levels will improve.


You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist ~ Indira Gandhi