I was at an Employment Law seminar all day on Friday (by choice believe it or not). There is a law firm that puts this on every year and it's fabulous. Anyhow, they brought in a guest speaker, Dr. Michael Johnson, to talk about dealing with difficult people. He was absolutely hilarious. I could have listened to him for hours, but unfortunately, he only had forty-five minutes. This was focused more towards HR professionals, but like he said, the family holidays are coming up and this could be used in the same way. ;)
There are six 'types' of difficult people with characteristics that could cross types. I've listed them below with some of their characteristics and the best ways to deal with these types of people. Dr. Johnson said, "keep in mind, these types of people act on the facts of the moment, what they perceive is happening."
1. The Hostile Aggressive
- Sherman Tanks - these are the bulldozers; they come at you strong and in full force. Do not take them on in front of a group - that's what they love. Be assertive, but polite. They are interrupters - be sure to call them on it when the do it. Don't argue with them about who is right. Never tell them that you understand why they are unhappy - instead tell them you respect that they are unhappy about the situation......
- Snipers - these are the people that take pot shots at you behind your back. They feel in control when they are undercutting others. When they make their rude remarks, as them, "(insert name here), do you really mean what you said?" Chances are they will back pedal or say, can't you take a joke? Smoke them out - don't let social conversations stop you from dealing with the problem at hand.
- Exploders - these people throw adult temper tantrums. They launch fearsome attacks filled with rage that appear out of control. They make you feel both threatened and bewildered at the abrupt and horrifying change in their behavior. Maintain eye contact with them. Attempt to isolate them from others. Give them time to 'run down' and regain their composure. Don't argue or fight back.
2. The Complainer - pretty self explanatory. They manage to find fault with everything and don't see themselves as whiners, but as powerless, prescriptive and perfect. They see themselves as warning others about things, situations or other people that need fixing. As them specific, information seeking questions and what their plan is to solve the problems.
3. The Clam - They are silent and unresponsive who won't or can't interact. Maintain positive eye contact. Don't fill in their silence with your conversation. Ask them a question, smile and wait for a response.
4. The Negativist - Again, pretty self explanatory.They are very infectious. They want everybody to be as miserable as they are. Don't let them bring you down. Keep your sense of humor, your confidence and your perspective. Don't take their behavior personally - it's not directed specifically at you.
5. Know-it-all Experts - They want you to recognize that he/she knows everything there is to know about anything worth knowing. They can be condescending and see the ideas of others are irrelevant. Don't confront them - twist things around and tell them that you appreciate their advice however, you would like their help with x approach.
6. The Indecisive Staller - They consider themselves very helpful. They don't want to cause conflict. Refuses to let go of anything until it's perfect - which means never. Be sure to listen attentively and help them surface their reasons for stalling.
So all in all, remember that:
1. Difficult people act on facts of the moment, what they perceive is happening.
2. They are driven by an abnormal need to control the behavior of others.
3. They feel righteous anger toward those who do not act as they 'should'. The 'should' being how they (the difficult person) thinks others should act.
4. They value confidence and problem solving.