When Educators clash! … And how to repair the relationship.

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Farran Street


This post is a continuation of our earlier post “The Four Most Common Personality Style of Educators” If you missed it, you can check it out here 

Working in a fast-paced environment with a whole range of differing personalities can sometimes cause non-function conflict. Functional conflict is useful and should be encouraged. Imagine your team is on a boat. Function conflict would be, people suggesting different ways to row the boat, people discussing various strategies to get the boat from point A to point B and people discussing which role is best for which person.

Non-functional conflict would be people jumping out of the boat because they feel it’s too much or it’s too uncomfortable or it is counter-productive and unworkable. Non-functional conflict is the worst type of conflict and should be avoided at all cost.

Teams are hard, sometimes people don’t realise that their communication style, is causing other people to jump off the boat!

In this post we look at how different working styles respond to conflict and what you can do to start to repair the relationship.


Case Study

Jenny has come to you asking to be moved from the Toddlers into the Babies room. You’ve had a few meetings on the topic. A few moments ago you told Jenny that you were happy to move her to the new room but not until the new-year. Jenny is furious, she wanted the change to happen immediately.

Educators respond to conflict differently, depending on the context, interest levels, and working style. Depending on Jenny’s style, you will see 1 of the 4 possible reactions to the situation.



If Jenny has the characteristics of a Driver she’ll be direct, straight to the point and she may appear unconcerned with your reaction. She could become autocratic and try to take control of the situation in a desire to get her point across. Jenny may approach you, and tell you firmly, that she’s not happy. She may ask you to reconsider or she might make a case for the change to happen immediately.



If Jenny has an expressive approach, it may begin with an emotional outburst. Often these outbursts are high energy and sometimes may appear irrational or unrelated to the issue at hand. Jenny can become verbally confrontational or combative. Jenny may appear extremely upset at your decision, she might tell you a story about all the amazing things she’s done for you, and how this decision has destroyed the relationship.



Amiable might be Jenny’s style in which case she might hide the conflict within. She may stay quite or avoid eye contact. Rather than dealing with the conflict head on, Jenny may share her frustrations with her close friends. Jenny will tell you everything fine, there is nothing to worry about. After a few days, Jenny may start ‘de-briefing’ with other Educators and you might hear on the grapevine, that she’s not happy with your decision.



If Jenny is analytical she may withdraw from the situation. This might include walking away, working slowly or avoiding certain people. Jenny may procrastinate or delay making a decision until the conflict has been resolved. Jenny will tend to avoid eye contact, she’ll say everything is ok, but the quality of her interaction may decrease. She may hand in documentation late or not at all. Eventually, Jenny may send you an email outlining her issues.


Building A Bridge

After the conflict has been resolved you can start to repair the relationship by focusing on the needs of the other person.



For Drivers, when the conflict has passed, it’s done and dusted. Drivers live in the present. One exception to the rule is when the conflict has originated from a perceived lack of competency. This can be overcome by being specific and to the point. Build trust by demonstrating past results and competency. You may like to meet with Jenny and re-iterate that you’re happy for her to move rooms. However, you don’t want it to happen yet, as she is extremely good at her job and it would be too hard for someone to come into the role half way through.



Expressive styles like to have mutual acknowledgement that the conflict has occurred and both parties have agreed to move forward. Letting them know that you’re still keen to work with them will help minimise any future fall-out from the conflict.

Be sure to acknowledge them in a personal way as you did prior to the conflict to remove any underlying tension. Rebuild the relationship by continuing to ask for their opinion and praise them for their ideas and vision. You might like to let Jenny know, you’re happy for her to move rooms but you don’t want to harm the strong relationships that she has with the children in her room. Explain that all the children in her room love the relationship they have with her and you don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that.



People with an amiable style often find it most difficult to bounce back from conflict due to the value they put on personal relationships. Amiable people like to please, they are looking for both parties to acknowledge the conflict, and they will be seeking ways to move on quickly. You might like to let Jenny know that you’re sorry for upsetting her and that you really value her as an Educator. Explain to Jenny that despite the fact she wanted to move immediately, you still think she’s amazing and has a lot offer the current room for the next few months.



Giving analytical people reassurance about the value of their work will help them overcome any lingering tensions. It can be useful to show that you understand their reasons for their actions during the conflict. Ultimately analytical people want to know that you still value their competency. If you put things in writing and allow time for considered thought, then you should be able to redeem the relationship. You can give Jenny some space. Let her return to work and wait a few days before sending her an email. In the email outline the reasons and rationale for your decisions and let her know that you’re happy to discuss it with her when she is ready. Let her know that you think she’s made the right decision to change rooms and set some goals for the next year.


Non-functional conflict is inevitable in our fast paced high-energy environments. High performing Educators should not only have the skills to recognise, de-escalate and resolve conflict but they should also have the tools to rebuild and renew the relationship.


Find out your personality style and hear how you can use styles to improve communication and reduce conflict at our live webinar on 4th Aug.

Click here to register 

Limited places available.



About the author:
Adrian Pattra is the Education Director of Farran Street Education. In this role he manages the day-to-day operational and educational outcomes. Adrian has been involved in adult education for the past 15 years, he holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master in Educational Psychology. Adrian has worked with a range of Children Service’s organisations, providing them with the tools to improve their competency and learning frameworks, while creating a culture of continuous learning.  For the past 20 years, Adrian together with his family has a small long day care service on Sydney’s lower north shore.