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Myers-Briggs personality type and conflict - what causes fights between MBTI types?

Posted 19 May 2021 by
Melissa, MBTI Marketing Manager
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If you ever take a literature or fiction writing class, you’ll likely learn about 6 types of conflict that characters in stories face. These conflicts are character vs. nature, character vs. themselves, and character vs. other characters, character vs. technology, character vs. society, and character vs. the supernatural.

In our real lives, the most painful of these three conflicts usually end up being us vs. other people.

Humans are social beings, but differences between our upbringings, perspectives, personalities and values mean that conflict with others is inevitable.

But conflict with others can be less painful with the right tools. And one of those tools is a better understanding of differences.

Knowing and understanding your Myers-Briggs personality type preferences can be incredibly enlightening when it comes to understanding and reducing conflict. Even if you only know your MBTI personality type, that self-awareness and knowledge has power.

Think about the last conflict you had with someone else. Was it at home with family member or partner? Or maybe it was a conflict at work between you and your manager? Pick one of your most recent conflicts and answer these questions about it:

  1. What was the conflict about?
  2. What was “your side” of the conflict? What was the other person’s side or want in the conflict?
  3. How was the conflict resolved? (or not resolved)?
  4. How did the situation make you feel during the conflict and afterwards?

Keep that conflict in mind as you read on about the different Myers-Briggs personality types and conflict… you’ll probably be surprised at what you’ll learn.

The Conflict Pairs in Myers-Briggs Personality Types

What causes the most conflict between different MBTI personality types? According to our expert Myers-Briggs personality psychologists, differences in the last two letters of personality types are more likely to cause conflict than any of the other preferences (individually or combined).

True, there’s potential for conflict whenever there are any differences in personality, but these two preferences in particular tend to cause more conflict in relationships (personal or professional) than the others.

So much so that these two letters together have been dubbed ‘the conflict pairs.’

The Myers-Briggs personality framework is made up of 4 pairs of preferences. If you’re not already familiar with those eight letters, you can check out this blog here. But for now we’ll skip ahead to the conflict pairs.

The last two letters of your MBTI type are known as the conflict pairs. When there are differences in the last two letters of your personality type compared to someone else, you’re more likely to have a conflict. That’s because the third letter (Thinking or Feeling, T or F) is how you make decisions, and the last letter of your MBTI personality type (Judging or Perceiving, J or P) is how you like to organize your outside world. This means that these two letters combined tell us what we’re likely to focus on and how we’re probably going to respond to the conflict.

The conflict pairs are:

Let’s take INTJfor example. When it comes to conflict, INTJs are generally matter-of-fact and don’t take things as personally as most other types do. However, this strength can also be a source of conflict when they think that others are being irrational and letting their emotions drive the conflict. Like INTJs, other people with the Myers-Briggs personality type with the last two letter TJ (which includes ISTJs, ENTJs and ESTJs) are going to extravert their Thinking preference. Because they’re so rational and level-headed, conflict often arises when someone challenges (theirs or others) authority or when the decision-making process is being addressed logically.

For contrast, let’s look at another one of the conflict pairs: the FP group. For those with the last two letters F (Feeling preference) and P (Perceiving preference), the thing they have in common is introverted Feeling. This means that the Feeling function operates internally, and isn’t visible to the people around them most of the time. When their deep-seated values are challenged, it often results in conflict. However most of the time people with the FP conflict pair won’t engage in conflict unless it’s an issue they’re really passionate about. Those with ENFP preferences, for example, often prefer a democratic approach and want all people’s opinions to be heard , because they believe in the value of everyone’s contribution. Conflict can arise when they feel that people are being narrow minded, dismissive of others or not open to new ideas.

If we look at ISFPs, they also share the same conflict pair of FP. However, they usually have the ability to pick up on group harmony and changes in other’s behavior. This allows them to spot potential conflict before it arises. But often they’ll not engage in the conflict unless it violates their values.

Descriptions of Myers-Briggs Personality Type Conflict Pairs

When it comes to each of the conflict pairs, below is what’s likely to cause conflict for each type of personality:

Want to learn more about each personality type in conflict?

16 MBTI Personality Types, Relationships and Conflict

Click the Myers-Briggs personality type below to learn more about how people with those personality preferences handle relationships and conflict:

ENFJ and conflict 

ENFP and conflict 

ENTJ and conflict 

ENTP and conflict 

ESFJ and conflict 

ESFP and conflict 

ESTJ and conflict 

ESTP and conflict 

INFJ and conflict 

INFP and conflict 

INTJ and conflict 

INTP and conflict 

ISFJ and conflict 

ISFP and conflict 

ISTJ and conflict 

ISTP and conflict