In the workplace, difficult co-workers can make our lives miserable. Interactions with difficult people leave you feeling angry, resentful, or frustrated. Sometimes the best way to overcome these feelings is to take a step back and understand the root causes that drive difficult people to be troublesome.
Difficult people may need to place blame, manipulate those who they fear, draw attention to themselves, or break down communication with those they feel are more skillful and more powerful. They might want to intimidate others so they can get their own way, or they may simply need a handy excuse to promote their own agenda. Difficult people can also be hiding their own poor performance. Whether or not the difficult person’s actions are reasonable, this person behaves in such a way as to illicit a negative response from you because you have become the unwitting sounding board. Who are these difficult people? Here’s a brief synopsis of the ten most difficult people and how to react when you meet them.
The Tank. Is the person in front of you angry, confrontational, pushy, and aggressive? If so you are dealing with a personality I like to call the Tank. A good way to handle the Tank is to not lose your cool but also do not sit passively and withdraw. If you appear to withdraw the Tank will continue to roll on.
The Sniper. Are you working with someone who makes rude comments and is sarcastic? That’s the Sniper. Snipers are sneaky and might take cheap potshots. If you know who the Sniper is maintain your composure with the Sniper by not lashing out or overreacting to the sniping. Consider a direct approach with the Sniper. Don’t know who the Sniper is? Protect yourself by doing great work.
The Know-it-all. The Know-it-all is competent, highly assertive, and usually outspoken. Don’t let this person intimidate you and you’ll probably earn their respect. The Think-he-knows-it-all pretends to know everything and wants attention. This person is an egotist and will insist they are an “expert.” Try not to embarrass this person because usually they don’t have the specifics.
The Grenade. Another personality similar to the Tank is the Grenade. As the name suggests, this person rants, raves, and blows up with little provocation. Save your reputation as a credible member of the organization and try not join this person in blowing up.
The Yes Person. The next of the ten difficult people is the Yes person. Can it be possible for a Yes person to make the difficult list? YES! These people want to please everyone and completely avoid confrontation. These people are super agreeable, have a strong need to be liked and tend to over-commit. You’ll have to work hard not to lose your patience or get angry with this person.
The No Person. Can you also handle the No person? This guy extinguishes hope in others and can serve to de-motivate an entire team. The No personality tends to see everything negatively and is masking feelings of victimization. Your best response is to not explode at this person.
The Maybe Person. The difficult middle ground person is the Maybe person. This person is a procrastinator and will not make a decision. To deal with this personality you’ll have to be patient while affirming for the person its ok to make a decision.
The Nothing Person. Another type is the Nothing person (not to be confused with a person who knows nothing). This person is somewhat unresponsive and will not easily give feedback. This person probably can make a statement but it’s best not to rush them into doing so.
The Whiner. The last of the least wanted is the Whiner. Beneath the whining this person feels helpless or even overwhelmed and although you may be sympathetic to how they feel, don’t get caught up in trying to solve their problems. They may not want you to anyway.
It’s true that meeting a difficult person can add an unexpected dimension to your job. Once you know you are dealing with a difficult person key things to do are to take care of yourself and keep a sense of humor. Get away from the workplace at least once during the day if you need to – even if it’s just to get a breath of fresh air. Don’t talk about the office while on your break and make a commitment to maintain other non-work related outlets in your personal life.
Yolanda Smith is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.