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If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All

I’m sure you’ve heard that one before.

But is it really true? What if you really really can’t stand someone? Like beyond “he used my 20th Anniversary Simpsons coffee mug without my permission!!” or “I thought I was the only woman in the office with the navy blue Michal Kors purse… the nerve!!!”

I’m talking true and utter discontent.

0 likeability.

Mean, hurtful, aggravating, annoying, bothersome.

How can you successfully work with someone you can’t stand in the workplace? Can there be peace and harmony among divided personalities and negative feelings toward two employees? Here’s a list provided by BCC Career Services of the various difficult personalities that may arise in the workplace – and some tips on how to overcome personality conflicts:

  • The Bulldozer: The Know it All, often uses threats, sarcasm, and intimidation
  • The Bully: Loud and hostile, abusive, overwhelming
  • The Fire Hose: Dampens enthusiasm, provides negative statements, constantly complaining
  • The Waffler: Reluctant to turn down any request, wants to be liked by everyone, paralyzed by tough decisions
  • The Silent One: Silent/unresponsive, answers with a grunt, avoids situations and conversations
  • The Indecisive One: Postpones decisions, afraid or unable to lead, beats around the bush
  • The Sniper: Excludes key people, withholds information, uses hidden attacks and non-playful teasing
  • The Pitiful One: Always thinks he’s the victim, believes everyone is out to get him
  • The Control Freak: Undermines and insults others’ abilities, lacks confidence and trust, insufferable – renders subordinates ineffective
  • The Super Agreeable: Overly supportive but doesn’t deliver, doesn’t follow throw with commitments
  • The One That Shies Away: Always points to higher authority, invokes other powers, never takes responsibility

Does any of this sound familiar? Worked with anyone who fits these descriptions? (I hope you’ve worked with one or possibly a few – not all!) These personalities can be draining, irritating – or even worse – hurtful and inappropriate. Here are some tips to help address these difficult personalities – and not let individuals’ behavior shape your overall work experience:

  • Model behavior you’d like others to exude
  • Don’t escalate
  • Avoid negative people
  • Focus on the problem at hand – and focus on a solution
  • Avoid being purposefully hurtful
  • Be specific and be honest with others
  • Encourage listening
  • Confront in private – praise in public
  • Use your commutation skills!

Remember, you can always defer a situation to a human resource manager – although you should address the issue yourself first.

Am I forgetting anything — or anyone? Please share your thoughts!

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Letha E. Strothers

We might all be one of these types at one time or another. Just knowing how to spot these types and then knowing yourself is half the battle. Know what pushes your buttons (and when someone’s pushing them) and try to ignore or let it roll off your back. You can’t do anything to change that person, but you can change how you react to them.

Jeff S

My parents always taught “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” This is why I am very quiet around certain individuals today.

Dannielle Blumenthal

If you start with the entire workforce then subtract the people with an active, diagnosable personality disorder what percentage is left?

Now take that percentage and subtract those who are paralyzed by a dysfunctional work culture.

Now subtract, from those left standing, the ones who are being bullied, marginalized, etc. within their chain of command.

Also subtract those who are going through health or personal problems and cant focus on work.

When you think about how many workers are functionally incapacitated, it is amazing we get any work done at all.

Very seriously – the only way out of it that I can see is to try to be a mensch (decent human being). In the end you can’t control what others do, only how you act and react.