Skip to content

Understanding “Out-of-Esteem” Behavior for Better Conflict Navigation Strategies

Employee self-esteem is under siege in the workplace these days. According to Psychology Today, meaningful work as a source of self-esteem is suffering in the modern workplace as a result of the ever-increasing pace of work and unreasonable demands for productivity. Added to these pressures is the fact that managers often don’t take the time to acknowledge a job well done.

When people become “out-of-esteem,” their behavior can become aggressive and rude, leading to conflict with co-workers. Taking personality traits into consideration can help leaders formulate a plan to navigate conflict and create a culture where workers are happy and engaged. Once leaders understand the issues that put people under stress, they can take steps to resolve a conflict situation that is out of control – or better yet, avoid conflict before it happens.

Seeing People as Individuals

Employees often become frustrated when expectations are too high and pressures in the workplace and at home force them off balance. It is important to keep in mind that when different personality types are stressed, they react differently. Understanding where this “out-of-esteem” behavior is coming from is essential to developing conflict resolution strategies that can avoid workplace clashes.

Temperament theory demonstrates how appreciating personality differences can help leaders formulate a strategy to get employees back on track with “in esteem,” positive behavior. Stressors and frustrations are often specific to different personality types, and what bothers one person may not faze another. For example, demands such as hard deadlines can make some employees frustrated and angry, while other employees may not be bothered at all.

Helping Employees Deal with Stress

Leaders can help navigate conflict by recognizing the signs that employees are struggling, and then taking steps to resolve the situation.

Bold Personality Types: 

When normally bold, cheerful and outgoing personality types are frustrated, they can become angry, defiant and aggressive toward their co-workers. When pushed to the limit, they may even become physically violent to release bottled up frustrations. A shortage of sufficient resources and insufficient finances are major frustrations, and a lack of freedom can make these personality types look for a way to break out.

Leaders can help avoid conflicts by using humor to diffuse difficult situations, giving bold personality types an opportunity to lead and by recognizing them publically for a job well done.

Highly Organized Personality Types:

When employees who are extremely organized are at their best, they become confident, successful and supportive of others. People who are highly organized can be thrown off by a sudden change in plan. Ambiguity, inconsistency and a lack of control are extremely frustrating. They will often look to leaders to devise and execute a new plan. Organized personalities who are worried, anxious and depressed are showing signs of stress. In an attempt to set things right, they may take charge and become overly authoritarian to co-workers.

Leaders can help by giving clear directions and allowing highly organized employees to retreat to a safe place for thoughtful “alone time.”

Creative Personality Types: 

When creative employees are on their game they act confident and focused on the task at hand. They can become frustrated by short-sighted leaders who place restrictions on how they explore possibilities to solve problems. Creative personality types find deadlines stressful and they dislike redundancy and small talk, which they consider a waste of time. Unfairness is especially frustrating to creative personality types, since it interferes with the logical way in which they view the world. Creative individuals can become critical and sarcastic when they are frustrated, and in extreme cases they may simply disengage.

To help creative employees get back on track, leaders can give them the opportunity to ask questions and explain the rationale behind their decisions.

Social Personality Types:

Highly social employees are naturally friendly, emotionally intelligent and supportive of their co-workers. They work well in groups and they want others to succeed. A culture of insincerity, discourtesy and unkindness puts a lot of stress on employees who are highly social at heart. When they are off their game, they can become highly emotional, or uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawn. It is not unusual to see them react tearfully.

Leaders can help by comforting highly social employees, showing that they care about them personally and by creating an opportunity for them to jump back in and become engaged.

Understanding Personality Types to Navigate Conflict

At True Colors, we help organizations create a culture of success where every employee feels understood and empowered. True Colors drives positive change in organizations around the world by encouraging leaders and staff to embrace individual personality differences. We use personality tests based on proven temperament theory to teach leaders and co-workers personal awareness for improved communication, engagement, collaboration and productivity.

When you partner with True Colors, an experienced Master Trainer will help evaluate your needs and set realistic, achievable goals. We help your organization thrive by implementing programs that meet challenges in leadership, team building and conflict. Our customized programs include online personality testing, consulting sessions, workshops, live events and keynote speaking engagements.

For additional information about True Colors International and Advanced Certification in Selling, please visit or call 800-422-4686.