Nov 03, 2013 | 2 Minute Read

It’s all about the me-me conflict

me me conflict.jpeg

(There are three common types of conflict in the workplace: Me-You, Me-Job, Me-Me. In my prior posts I discussed Me-You and Me-Job conflicts. Here I take on Me-Me conflicts.)

"Hello, my name is Ron and I have a me-me conflict."

Maybe there should be a support group for the very common me-me conflict, but the next best thing is a clear understanding of this potentially disabling behavioral affliction and how it affects our work and even our daily lives.

But what is a me-me conflict?

Of course, we use our DISC (which measures Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Compliance behaviors) behavior assessment to identify individuals experiencing this conflict. When two of the four behavioral styles are high in one person, internal conflict can ensue.

For example, imagine a person with both a high Dominance and a high Compliance profile. For those not familiar with the DISC language, this would be a person who wants to be involved in everything, who relishes every new experience (High D) and wants every activity to be accomplished to perfection (High C). No room for error -- but also no room for half-hearted effort.

Do you see the problem? You cannot have both breadth and depth with every project. Something has to give!

The first time this me-me conflict became a serious problem for me personally was in the final days of writing my PhD dissertation. I spent over six months reworking the data, never being satisfied with the results and constantly looking for another possible outcome.

I was obsessed with thoughts like:

What if I am overlooking something?
What if I made a mistake?
I still don’t know enough to finish this!
I need to learn more first.

I remember calling my brother and explaining the issue. His response was rather direct. “The only good dissertation is a done dissertation! Turn it in and move on!”

So a decision had to be made -- either a life of adventure with change being the only constant or the satisfaction that whatever I did would be perfect. What to choose?

Working through the conflict

Yep, you guessed it. I gave up on perfect. But understand, this need to not error does come back to haunt me, especially when under stress. And yes, you can change your behaviors, but only with great effort and constant vigilance. Let’s look at other workplace implications.

The signs vary, but a person who never seems to be able to let go of a task or to finish it in a timely manner might be exposing their internal struggle. Sadly, many people with a typical me-me conflict blame others. They think others are the issue and proclaim a me-you conflict. Or they write it off as a me-job conflict and assume that the job is the cause of their daily aggravation. (See previous me-you and me-job blogs).

I point this out because it is natural to assume the cause of a problem is due to others and therefore beyond our control, but looking within may be the best first step.

Remember that just like lost car keys, the most obvious location usually turns out to be the best place to look. Looking inside for causes of our problems, while the hardest to admit, many times is the root of our conflicts at work and at home.

Image by Gaetano Cessati

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Topics: behaviors

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Dr. Ron Bonnstetter

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