Dealing with difficult people

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When was the last time you had to deal with difficult people?
Everyday life is full of human relationship conflicts. No matter where we go, we will always have to interact with difficult people. The interaction with them might be be simplified learning how to deal with these situations.

After doing some research, I found out there are 8 types of difficult people. Each type has a different personality. I will discuss below their behaviors, the reasons why they behave like that and I will suggest how to deal with them.

1. The Sherman Tank
Behavior: They want to do everything their way or no way. They are aggressive, angry and hostile and they devalue people that don’t have the same characteristics.
Reason: They assume, making other people seeming weak, will let them be perceived as strong.
How to deal with them:
– Be ready to be friendly.
– Give them time to run down. Don’t argue with what they are saying.
– Get their attention by calling them by name or standing up before to state your opinion.

2. The Sniper
Behavior: They are as hostile as the Sherman Tank but they prefer a more covered approach. They show friendship out front, but behind they attack with criticism and verbal missiles. Any comment back to them might be seen as an attack done against them.
Reason: As for the Sherman Tank, they believe that making others look bad will make them look good.
How to deal with them:
– Set regular problem-solving meetings to prevent sniping.
– Don’t focus on their point of view, but involve everybody in the discussion.
– If you are experiencing a sniping situation having as target a third person, insist to stop that in front of you.

3. The Complainer
Behavior: They like complaining about everything but don’t take any action to change anything. They think everything is wrong in all situations. Their constant complains can cause other people to be defensive.
Reason: They feel powerless and complaining is their way to confirm they are not responsible for things going wrong.
How to deal with them:
– Listen. Listen carefully to their complaints also if you feel impatient.
– Don’t agree or apologize for their allegations. Don’t play the game of ‘Yes, but’.
– Try to move to a problem-solving mode, asking for suggestion and putting them back in control. Then reward and praise them.

4. The Silent
Behavior: They react to disagreement simply by shutting down.
Reason: They use silence to avoid revealing themselves so that they cannot be reprimanded.
How to deal with them:
– Ask open-ended questions to know their opinions and get them open up.
– Wait as long as you can before commenting. Do not fill the silence with your conversation.
– When they open up, listen carefully any comments.

5. The Supernice
Behavior: They are very social, kind, reasonable, supportive and sincere. They commit themselves to any actions also if they are not able to deliver what they promise.
Reason: They like attention, they want everybody to like them and they are afraid of rejection.
How to deal with them:
– Help them to be more realistic finding out issues that might preventing them form taking action.
– Encourage them to be honest about their limits.
– Listen to their humor. It might hide relevant messages.

6. The Negativist
Behavior: They shoot on whatever is being said at the moment and they tend to disagree in all situations. They use words like always and never.
Reason: They think that if they are not in control, any activity will not be successful.
How to deal with them:
– Involve them in the process. Do not offer solutions until the problems have been fully discussed.
– Make optimistic but realistic statements about similar problems that have been solved successfully in the past.
– Don’t argue about their pessimism. When they say something negative, ask them what is the worst thing that can happen.

7. The Know-All
Behavior: They are totally sure they are right and there is no point to argue about that, as they will not change their mind. They like the power of knowledge so they work well as expert.
Reason: They like being the center of attention and they have a need to be recognized for their intellectual abilities.
How to deal with them:
– Study all the needed material and prepare yourself well before discussing with them.
– To disagree use questioning rather then statements.
– Approach them when they are alone.

8. The Indecisive
Behavior: They can never make a decision so they are not able to give answers. They prefer avoid dealing with the issues. They are usually not good at communicating their opinions or needs and when they do, this happens with short sentences that are usually ignored by other people. They work well in roles that don’t involve communication.
Reason: They are afraid of making wrong decision and of rejection. They feel their opinion doesn’t matter and they prefer someone else to deal with problems.
How to deal with them:
– Invite them to explain what issues are preventing to take the decision. Listen for hesitation or indirect words that could give an idea of the problem. Then help them to take the decision.
– Give them support after the decision is taken.
– If they have sign of anger or they withdraw from the conversation, try to remove them from the decision making process.

These were the 8 types of difficult people. Dealing with them is just about learning to use the talent they have. Generally, it usually helps:
– To forgive. At the end, we are all good people.
– Not to take it personally.
– Be in the other person shoes to understand what might have hurt their feelings.
– To wait before answering, so that you don’t involve emotions in the answers (for example in email communications).
– Not to respond and not to react to negative messages to stop the negative loop.

How did it work for you?