Some employees bring tough personalities to work – and make the day more difficult than anyone could expect.
Whether it’s an employee, colleague or your boss, a difficult person – or someone with a very different approach to work – can stop you and others in your tracks. Or one difficult personality might just slow progress. Another might manage to bring the team to its knees.
What can you and other managers do?
“Effective communication is always important, but even more important when dealing with difficult people.”
To work with people with tough personalities, you want to know the types and how to communicate effectively with each. Thornton offers guidance:
Who they are: They tend to dominate conversations and control situations – or at least try to do both. They’re often know-it-alls and, at the same time, close-minded.
How to deal: Here are a few strategies for dealing with Agressors when they act up:
- Call them out. For instance, when they’re rude, say, “You’re yelling. Do you mean to do that?”
- Meet them where they are physically. If they’re standing, stand up. Look them in the eye.
Who they are: They complain, whine and blame others for what bothers them. They’re pessimists and love a self-absorbed pity party.
How to deal: A few tactics for dealing with Victims:
- Call them out – and put a number on it. For instance, “Do you realize you’ve complained about four separate things in the last minute?”
- Change the focus to solutions now, issue-avoidance for the future. They’d rather rehash the past, and you want to get them to move on.
Who they are: Employees with this tough personality have high standards for themselves and everyone around them – whether it’s necessary or not.
They don’t recognize the difference between good and good enough – and might waste time and resources on things that don’t deserve them.
How to deal: To help Perfectionists get out of their own way and stop them from interfering with others:
- Set goals and deadlines together early – whether you share the work responsibilities or delegate it.
- Talk about consequences. For instance, “If we miss this deadline, we’ll disappoint the customer and likely lose the next contract.”
Who they are: People with this tough personality wait until the last minute for everything, throwing themselves and others into a panic. Even if it’s good work, it’s too stressful.
How to deal: To work better with Procrastinators:
- Break work into bite-size pieces with shorter deadlines.
- Praise good work, early starts and deadlines met.
Who they are: They help everyone to their detriment. They’re people-pleasers who overcommit and miss deadlines.
How to deal: To rescue Rescuers:
- Regularly remind them what’s on their plate and when it’s due.
- Help them identify time constraints. Say, “If you took on this task, how much time do you think it’ll take? When will you do it?”