“Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to them.” Albert Schweitzer
All of us have come in contact with varying types of difficult people. Sometimes we may have known the person for a fair period of time and at others it could be the newest colleague on your team. Either way, to deal effectively with difficult people we need to understand their personality type. This enables us to choose the optimal way to deal with them in the most effective manner. The tricky part comes when we have to deal with a difficult, unknown individual. I do personal counseling and have come across my share of such individuals. One of the most effective ways of drawing some conclusions fairly early in the conversation is asking open ended questions.
For example, I was giving a candidate feedback on a personality assessment he had taken. From the word go this person was totally against such forms of tests in the workplace. When he came in for the feedback session it was a textbook example of one who was not going to cooperate. His arms were crossed, refused to make eye contact and would answer open ended questions with answers such as “I don’t know”, “this is a useless exercise” etc. To turn this situation effectively, turn the answers such as “why do you think this is a useless exercise?” into questions, and get the other person to open up a little more. There were a lot of discrepancies in this particular candidates personality report, hence it could not be used in this session. However, after a 2 hour session we made progress, after I understood the reason he felt this way about testing.
In the book “Dealing with difficult people” by Rick Brinkman & Rick Kirschner they have identified 10 different behavior patterns of people under pressure:
The Steamroller (or Tank): Aggressive and angry. Victims can feel paralyzed, as though they’ve been flattened.
The Sniper: The Sniper’s forte is sarcasm, rude remarks, and eye rolls. Victims look and feel foolish.
The Know-It-All: Wielding great authority and knowledge, Know-it-all do have lots to offer, are generally competent, and cannot stand to be contradicted or corrected. But they will go out of their way to correct you.
The Grenade: Grenades tend to explode into uncontrolled ranting that has little, if anything, to do with what has actually happened.
The Think They Know It All: A cocksure attitude often fools people into believing their phony “facts.”
The Yes Person: Someone who wants to please others so much that he never says no.
The Maybe Person: Procrastinating, hoping to steer clear of choices that will hurt feelings, he avoids decisions, causing plenty of frustration along the way.
The Blank Wall (or Nothing Person): This person offers only a blank stare, no verbal or nonverbal signals.
The No Person: He spreads gloom, doom, and despair whenever any new ideas arise, or even when old ones are recycled. The No Person saps energy from a group in an amazingly short time.
The Whiner: Whiners feel helpless most of the time and become overwhelmed by the unfairness of it all. They want things to be perfect, but nothing seems to go right. Whiners want to share their misery.
Identify the type of person you are dealing with, after that you can determine the best way to work together with this person. The most important thing is not to get frustrated during the exploratory finding of the personality type. This is not the easiest of processes, but keeping your cool and emotional quotient under control will help you reach the most effective way of dealing with them at the earliest.