Teamwork: problematic personalities and conflicts

Teamwork: problematic personalities and conflicts

Labor conflicts

How hard it would be to work on perfect teams made up of perfect people! ”

Most people who work in teams complain about their interpersonal relationships. A relatively large team records constant turbulence: encounters and disagreements, power struggles, emotional ups and downs with repercussions on the group as a whole, etc ...

A part of peer conflict can originate in the functions entrusted to them, but other times people have personality traits or ways of being that make them problematic in virtually any organization.

When two people do not have a hierarchy defined by an organization chart and have to collaborate, four types of situations occur:

  • Cordial Consensus: Both professionals have the same level, are willing to work in a complementary manner and alternate very dynamically in decisions.
  • Cordial Obedience: One of the parties accepts the leadership of the other and both tune perfectly, often establishing a "secret pact."
  • Forced Consensus: When two professionals of the same hierarchy face each other, two things can happen in the long run: a) one of them leaves the fight and positions are stabilized by means of a pact or simply by mutual avoidance; or b) it is essential to establish more or less spoken rules, depending on the severity of the confrontation.
  • Forced Obedience: When there is an established hierarchy between the two professionals and in spite of this the one in the subordinate position refuses to collaborate, a game of nonsense begins that is usually very negative for the company. The very fact of not sharing or hiding information leads to wasting opportunities and ideas.


  • 1 Features that make teamwork difficult
  • 2 Internal causes of failure
  • 3 External causes of failure
  • 4 Problematic professionals
  • 5 Professionals with narcissistic traits
  • 6 Professionals with sensitive / paranoid features
  • 7 Professionals with unstable traits / borderline personality

Features that make teamwork difficult

The first explanation when someone fails in a team is the typical comment: "It didn't work for this position." This indicates an internal cause of failure, for example, lack of technical preparation. Other times the professional becomes ill or is involved in personal problems that diminish their effectiveness. However, these two factors are not by far the most important. In general, a professional does not adapt to a team due to personality problems and confrontation with the company's culture. Let's examine these internal and external factors.

Internal causes of failure

(In order of importance)


  • Very susceptible and hypersensitive to criticism.
  • Excess ego: intrusive, invades the intimacy of classmates.
  • Selfishness.
  • Emotional instability.
  • Emotional coldness
  • Dogmatic, rigid.
  • Bad communicator

Style mismatch

  • False expectations or objectives.
  • Based on previous experiences that do not work in the current situation.
  • Incorrect instructions received from superiors.
  • Incorrect perception of the company and environment.
  • Undervaluation of subordinates and collaborators.
  • Inability to assume a transformational role.

Personal problems

  • Family diseases
  • Somatic or psychic diseases.
  • Others: divorce, family instability, etc.

External causes of failure

Mission Impossible

  • Unreachable objectives due to market evolution.
  • Lack of initially promised means.

Ethical pressure

  • The context of the company requires layoffs ...
  • We receive “unethical” higher instructions.

Lack of stimulus

  • Economic We earn the same regardless of our performance.
  • Lack of professional career.
  • Missing stimulating goals.

Demolition and / or lack of support strategies

  • Of the superiors.
  • Of the partners.
  • Of the subordinates.

What differentiates a normal professional from a problematic professional is going to be precisely his ability to adapt. Let's look at this profile of people unable to adapt, people who go wherever they end up being problematic people.

Problematic professionals

As a general rule, we can state that any excessively pronounced feature in our way of being, in the long run it will report problems, especially if we occupy a coordination or management position. Now, without spinning so fine some professionals have a type of personality that invariably leads them to successive failures and can even cause diseases in the whole organization.

Let's examine three very typical profiles of professionals with problems: the narcissist, the sensitive and the limit or unstable. All three introduce serious distortions in the life of any organization.

A good part of people have problematic personality traits but usually compensate with intelligence and other virtues.

Professionals with narcissistic traits

The narcissist He is a person with feelings of greatness, need to arouse admiration in others and inability to empathize with people, that is, inability to have genuine appreciation for other people.

This lack of genuine affection will not prevent the narcissist from declaring love or making sure he feels an appreciation for our work and for our person, but your love is always interested. What really motivates him is to feel admired and taken care of by others.

He overestimates his abilities and presupposes that everyone agrees to value him as he values ​​himself. He also often fantasizes about his achievements, overestimating his contribution and despising that of others.

When the narcissistic professional has no leadership or directive responsibilities, he can try to displace the group leader by attracting the weak elements of the group, which he pampers to receive his praise. But when you have managerial responsibilities it can be extremely dangerous for an organization. To begin with, he will reject any threat of criticism and may even take action against those who have dared to criticize him. Another interesting detail to detect the narcissites is this facility with which they are hurt by the softer criticisms.

Sometimes they can have a great capacity for work and sacrifice. But actually they are always moved by a personal ambition.

The intelligent narcissist is an exquisite manipulator of the interpersonal relationship. It will make us believe that we care a lot, but in reality we are a pawn for your particular game. Each person has a specific value assigned in their strategy.

Another significant clue to detect a narcissist is precisely the contempt he shows towards simple people who "don't paint anything."

The narcissist orients his interpersonal relationships in a very operative way. Friendships are made according to the benefit that can be taken from them, and that is valid even at the level of their intimate relationships: the couple is a means to strengthen their self-esteem. Moreover, good feelings (solidarity, concern about the situation of a partner, etc.) can be simulated to impress others or achieve their ends, but they are never felt in a genuine way.

Professionals with narcissistic traits can be discovered BECAUSE:

  • They are envious.
  • They are very ambitious.
  • They react badly to criticism.
  • They are incapable of emotional solidarity (empathy).
  • They orient their interpersonal relationships so that they can take advantage of them.
  • They are unable to give esteem.

How to behave and communicate with a narcissistic boss?

Beware of the seductive arts of a narcissistic boss. It can make you believe that you are the essential person to do this or that job but it really isn't. Narcissists go through frequent depressive crises. The smallest criticism can make them contact reality, and then deep crises are triggered. In such cases they can channel their feelings of tension and irritability in the form of aggressions towards others, calling them incapable. These reactions are usually totally disproportionate in relation to the facts that motivate their reprimand. Some practical rules to deal with and communicate with this type of narcissistic bosses:

  • Do not be manipulated.
  • Stop the demands of your narcissistic boss. Make him understand his limits as a human being.
  • Avoid being part of those around you applauding because in the long run that type of managers fall out of favor and with them all who followed and cheered.
  • When the narcissistic boss asks you something impossible, try to negotiate your request in a realistic way.
  • Do not expect recognition of your work.
  • Contact the narcissistic boss trying to be cordial and not stand out.

A narcissist hardly has a solution, unless he changes in a very deep way. In any case, here are some “impossible” exercises for a narcissist:

  • Be genuinely interested in others.
  • Think of the bright subordinates and empower them.
  • Learn to accept criticism and even provoke them.
  • Mitigate resentment.

Professionals with sensitive / paranoid features

The essential characteristic of the person with hypersensitivity features or paranoid It is distrust and seeing threats everywhere. They are usually professionals introverts, voluntary and hyperresponsible, very involved in their things and little lovers of mass meetings. When they have to public speaking usually get quite nervous, especially for fear of being mocked. Same as him narcissistic, share the grudge like a defensive spring.

The most descriptive features are therefore, hypersensitivity and suspicion but also the lack of manifest emotion. This type of person is cold and distant, has no sense of humor and does not show tender or emotional attitudes. It is actually driven to this coldness as a defense against its own fragility.

Professionals with paranoid features are often discovered BECAUSE

They are distrustful

  • Suspicious, they think she conspires against him.
  • They fear being betrayed and look for "signs of threats."
  • They are reserved and avoid criticism.
  • They may have intense professional and personal jealousy.

Are hypersensitive

  • They easily feel offended and humiliated.
  • Anything "make a mountain."
  • They are in permanent tension "just in case."

Waterproof your emotions

  • They take as virtue to be very objective and little given to the emotions of tenderness (which they believe is a weakness).
  • They appear cold because deep down they are fragile. However, they can learn to be ruthless.
  • They have no sense of humor.
  • They find it difficult to participate in a group, unless they occupy a dominant position.
  • They can be selfish and distant.

Now, not everything is negative:

  • The hypersensitive person can overcome their distrustful tendency and develop the positive part of their way of being. In this case, your classmates will consider you a penetrating and trained observer.
  • Hypersensitive people who manage to overcome suspicion are endowed with a sixth sense of great value.
  • The insensitivity that these people often show is due, in the end, to a defense, because they have a fear of emotions. But when they have the courage to face them, they can even develop over-actions. When they channel their fragile emotionality towards a utopia, they can develop extraordinary levels of effort and voluntarism.

How to behave and communicate with a chief of paranoid traits?

  • Asymmetric courtesy: Be cordial even if you don't receive any cordiality from the paranoid.
  • Sincerity and no excuses: We must recognize the mistakes and apologize if necessary.
  • Respect and no jokes.

Here are some recommendations in the case of being paranoid:

  • You must learn to relativize your suspicions and not rush into your actions.
  • You must learn to live ignoring the opinion of others and preserving your self-esteem of that opinion.
  • You must assume that in a team there will always be people who will not love you.
  • It should not be influenced by a suspicion. You should always behave in a cordial and open emotional tone.

Professionals with unstable traits / borderline personality

These traits are observed especially in young professionals, because basically it is a lack of personality maturation. It basically consists of a fragile self-image that leads to not knowing what you want or who you want, with strong fluctuations from euphoria to depression.

The professional with unstable personality traits or limit is impulsive in aspects related to his work but, more frequently, in areas of his personal life. His inner life is presided over by brief passionate impulses, which run out as if they were lacking batteries, but so intense that he does not know how to renounce them and also provides him with the only thing that really interests him: extreme emotions.

They do not tolerate loneliness. They can launch unrealizable projects, excite colleagues, organize useless meetings and in the end everything is to feel surrounded by doing things.

Professionals with borderline features can be discovered BECAUSE:

  • They show emotional instability, with marked emotional lability.
  • Sometimes they have explosions of inappropriate anger.
  • Their interpersonal relationships are unstable and intense.
  • They are enamored but inconstant and usually get together.
  • They are impulsive and show risky behaviors.
  • They go through cycles of euphoria and depression, even in a few hours.
  • They do not tolerate loneliness or inaction.
  • They have many explosions of cholera.

How to behave and communicate with an unstable boss?

  • They need people to order their activity and make up for their lack of reflection.
  • At the moment when they "turn off the batteries" employees must replace them at the head of the organization and encourage them.
  • You have to stay away from your whims, avoiding being manipulated or entering your fantasies.
  • Also avoid believing all the projects you are going to propose.

The most important thing for an unstable professional is

  • Learn to commit to something.
  • Learn to get frustrated, that things cost effort and time to achieve.
  • Learn to value the reasons of others, their motivations and to what level they may be right.
  • Perceive oneself as immature, and in need of maturation. Surround yourself with good advisors, people who overcome their disorganized tendency and temper their own impulses.