How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
Dealing with difficult people could be challenging, but there are strategies you can employ to handle their behaviors effectively.
Remember that each situation is unique, and the effectiveness of these strategies may vary. It would be best if you use different approaches based on the specific circumstances and personalities involved.
In all groups, there are people whose unpleasant behavior complicates the lives of others. We’ve all done it. Am I right?
How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
how to cope
The hostile aggression
The “Super Nice”
The know-it-alls (superiority complex)
Other Difficult Behaviors in Meetings
Introduction | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
In all groups, there are people whose unpleasant behavior makes life difficult for others. We have all experienced it. And when the time comes to work within an organization, this law of life invariably holds true.
We’ve all been to meetings or events that were disrupted or delayed by the behavior of a difficult person. In the majority of cases, it was a manifestation of a bad mood caused by bad news, lack of sleep, personal difficulties, or other temporary annoyances. This type of challenging behavior is temporary or occasional. The really problematic behavior is that of people who are difficult all the time, in all circumstances, and with everyone. In other words, their nasty attitude doesn’t go away after a good night’s rest.
How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
How to recognize a really difficult person? Robert Bramson, the author of Coping with Difficult People, advises us to ask ourselves the following four questions:
1- Did something trigger this behavior?
2- Is this person’s behavior toward me typical of his behavior toward others?
3- Should I give more importance to this behavior?
4- Will an honest and frank discussion dispel the unease?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the possibility is that you are not dealing with a fundamentally tricky person, even if their behavior is unbearable. On the other hand, if you answer no to all the questions, you are probably dealing with a really difficult person by nature.
How to Cope | Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
Coping is “reacting effectively in the presence of some difficulty,” says Petit Robert; it is to confront a conversational partner as equal to equal. It is especially important to “respond effectively” when dealing with difficult people. Difficult people have learned, often from childhood, that being disagreeable puts others in a position of weakness. They rely on this weakness to get what they want. Probably the most important thing you can take away from this fact sheet is not to let difficult people dominate you – stay on your level playing field by learning how to deal with them.
Faced with a problematic person, some opt for passive acceptance because confrontation is repugnant to them, and they prefer to act as if nothing had happened. But the lack of reaction only encourages the difficult person to start over, and his “victim” will feel persecuted. On the other hand, if you learn how to stand up to a difficult-behaving person, you may eventually come to terms with them in a meeting, activity, discussion, or work in progress. You create a climate in which both of you can function productively.
Bramson suggests classifying them into seven main types to make learning how to deal with difficult people easier. This fact sheet, therefore, focuses on the description of these types, their characteristics, and the means to be taken to deal with them in general. It then indicates how, more specifically, one can react to certain difficult behaviors that each type could display during a meeting.
The Hostile Aggression | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
They are bitters who like to bully, bully and intimidate. They believe that their “victims” are weak beings who deserve the treatment they reserve for them. Therefore, they are stimulated by the signs of weakness. There are three subtypes within this group.
The Battler needs to be right, and he will stop at nothing to win. Arrogant, he will not just attack your idea or your project; he will attack you personally.
The most important tactic against a Battler is defense. If you don’t defend yourself, he will consider you a negligible quantity – you will no longer exist in his eyes. If the Battler vociferates or cries, let the crisis pass and give him time to calm down (he will). Then take charge of the situation. You may need to cut off the Battler in order to speak, as he is not used to yielding to others. Get her attention by saying her name in a loud voice. Try to make him sit because the sitting position is incompatible with aggression. Then, confidently present your point of view using phrases like “In my opinion…”, “I disagree with you…” This way, you are not telling the Battler what it has to do; you instead express your opinion.
During a meeting, if the subject discussed does not suit him, the Battler will probably pretend to be uninterested in it. He’ll read something else, squirm in his chair, and ostentatiously show everyone that this topic is a waste of time. He can even interrupt the discussion with phrases like “What else is on the agenda?” » If this happens while you preside over the assembly, do not play his part. If you give in to the Battler, whatever topic is being discussed will be continually postponed, and you will lose the respect of the group.
Point out to the Battler that the group finds this point important (otherwise, it would not be on the agenda), and the discussion will follow its course. Remind the Battler that he can participate in the discussion and present his point of view. Once launched into a discussion, the Battler can become very argumentative. Stay in control – if you stay calm, the rest of the group will probably remain that way too. Among the arguments of the battler, try to find a valid one, express your agreement and move on to the others. If the Battler says things that are wrong, defer to the group and ask them to dispute them.
The Sneaky | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
The Sneaky uses innuendo, snide remarks, and teasing to undermine others. It’s more challenging to spot than the Battler, but its behavior can be just as destructive. The Sneaky uses his important behavior skillfully in circumstances where the victim will be least likely to retaliate for fear of causing a scene, such as during a social gathering or reception. Like the Battler, the Sneaky has strong ideas about what others think and do.
The first thing to do in front of Sly is to force him to unmask himself. Ask questions like “Are you throwing that pike at me?” or “What did you mean by pointing your thumbs down while I was talking?” Then, if your Sneak responds by still teasing you, say something like, “Sounds like you’re kidding me?” » It is important to leave him an escape to avoid confrontation. This is why you must speak to him interrogatively and not in the affirmative. You have stood up to Sly by asking your questions and can move on to the next step. Don’t accept Sneaky criticism out of hand. Ask the rest of the group if the complaints are justified or not. If they are unjustified, you retain credibility with the Devious and the group. If they are justified, try to find and fix the real problem.
During a meeting, the Sly one willingly makes reconcilables with his neighbors, which may or may not be related to the subject discussed. Call the Sneaky by his name, repeat the last opinion or remark expressed by a member of the group, and ask him what he thinks about it. If you are used to moving around the room, walk around and casually stop behind those who are talking to each other. (Avoid showing that you are doing this on purpose.)
Milk Soup | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
It is said of an adult who throws tantrums that he is.
These outbursts are filled with anger and rage that seems barely controllable. The crisis is often triggered in the middle of a conversation that was initially friendly and calm. Usually, the Milk Soup is someone who feels threatened or has had their plans or ideas thwarted.
To deal with a Milk Soup, wait for the storm to pass. The Milk Soup often suddenly realizes where he is and what he is doing, and then he quickly shuts up. But if the crisis does not seem to want to subside, you must try to put an end to it. Try saying, “Okay! Alright, Alright! », « One minute, please! ” or Yes! Yes! Speaking loud enough for him to hear. You can also catch his attention by standing up suddenly long enough to interrupt his anger. Once the Milk Soup has calmed down, let him know you’re taking him seriously by saying things like, “I see this is very important to you, and I’d like to talk about it, but not this way. “
If a Milk Soup shows up in the middle of a meeting, the tips presented above may be helpful. The “mirror” technique also gives good results: Capture the attention of the Soup-au-lait by speaking loudly as we said before, then lowering the tone gradually. You will see that he will imitate you. It is a good idea to propose to the Soupe-au-lait a meeting to discuss the situation after the meeting.
The Curmudgeons | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
Grumpy people find fault with everything. And their whining usually implies that someone, probably you, needs to do something for them. Pay attention to what they say. Often they chain their complaints with “and” and “buts” – spouting out their thoughts one after another without stopping.
It can be challenging to recognize a real Grump. He knows how to pose problems accusingly, so it is difficult to distinguish the real issues from his grievances. Also, the people around him are on the defensive because they know the Grinch will be the first to blame them if something goes wrong. The Grinch himself feels unable to correct the situations that upset him. By unloading on others the task of solving problems, he reinforces his conviction of being without fault and reproach.
The only effective way to deal with a Grump is to help him adopt a problem-solving attitude. The first step is to listen to his grievances, then to acknowledge what he is saying by repeating it back to him, and you may have to interrupt him to do this. Use specific examples to avoid words like “never” and “always” – his two favorite words. For example, have him specify the day and time when the situations that upset him took place. Don’t agree with the Grinch; there’s a difference between acknowledging and agreeing. To agree with the Grinch would be to admit that you are partly responsible for the problems. You would confirm in his eyes that he is beyond reproach and that the responsibility lies with you.
Now quickly move on to finding a solution. Question the Grinch to determine the natural source of the problem. If some questions remain unanswered, suggest the Grinch do a little investigation. Additional information may help calm him down or, on the contrary, bring to light a real problem you can solve together. Finally, allow the Grinch to see the other side of the coin.
During a meeting, Grumpy can monopolize the discussion because he has criticism on each point on the agenda. Try to avoid this situation. As chairperson, explain to the group that time is short and that the agenda must be completed within the time allowed. Ask other members of the organization to respond to complaints. If the Grinch complains about the organization’s policy, point out that it cannot be changed during the current meeting but that you would be happy to discuss it with him later in private.
The Taciturn | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
These people react with total silence to the questions you have asked, to the controversial statements you have made, and, for that matter, to any situation that is not to their liking. When you insist on an answer, at best, they mumble a few words, “yes” or “no,” but more often, they don’t grit their teeth.
It is difficult to tell a taciturn from a merely reserved person, although the latter does not generally dodge direct questions as the former does. For example, you asked a colleague to refrain from parking his car so close to yours in the company parking lot. If he’s taciturn, he won’t flinch. If it is a reserved person, it will answer you at least something.
When dealing with a Silent, what bothers you the most is not knowing what the silence or refusal to answer means. Therefore, the best tactic is to get him to talk. To do this, ask probing questions – which cannot be answered with “yes” or “no.” Questions like “What do you think? or “What do you say?” are good introductions. After the questions, invite the Taciturn to answer by giving him a friendly look, without speaking. To avoid bearing the brunt of the curation yourself, be direct and say, “I wish you had said something, Georg. Can we know why you didn’t say anything? (another essay question).
If that still doesn’t work, after inviting them back with a friendly look, begin to express your thoughts, observations, or ideas on the subject and once again end with an essay question. At this point, prepare to hear something like “Can I go now?” from a particularly refractory Taciturn. “Not right away; I still have something else to ask you” is a good answer. If you’ve come this far with a Silent and haven’t gotten anything yet, the following questions or statements may prompt them to open up.
” What’s wrong? »
“Do you look upset?” »
“Tell us what is bothering you right now as it goes through your mind. »
If your Silent decides to speak, give him your full attention.
A Silent reacts during a meeting in the same way as when he is in front of a single person. He will sit staring at the floor or wall and not say a word. (In a meeting, ignore it, but if it lasts, do something about it.) Have an aside conversation with the Silent, as we suggest above. Then, bring up one of his ideas during the meeting to give him confidence and get him to talk. Propose to the Taciturn to be part of your organization’s committee and ask him to present a report at an upcoming meeting. Another technique is to jot down something the Silent said and refer to it later in the meeting, to help him break his silence once again.
The Super Nice | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
Why is it so difficult to work with someone who is always friendly and supportive of your ideas and projects? Only when you ask him to help.
A “Super-Nice” person wants to be liked and accepted by everyone, and to achieve this, they are open, friendly, and show their best side. However, the danger here is that she agrees with you on one thing and then will agree with someone else on opposite ideas. Additionally, she will volunteer for all sorts of jobs but not complete them.
When dealing with a ‘Super Nice,’ it’s important to put them at ease so they don’t worry about disagreeing with you – let them know that you’ll always be their friend even if they do not volunteer for any activity. Tell her upfront that you appreciate her as a person and ask her questions or make comments about her family, hobbies, or clothing. Don’t let the “Super-Friendly” make unrealistic commitments. Ask him if he will need help fulfilling this or that obligation. Last but not least, when it comes to the “Super-Friendly,” pay attention to his jokes because he often says what he really thinks or feels in a joking tone.
During a meeting, the “Super Nice” can hinder the progress of the group as a whole because he accepts all kinds of responsibilities. Thank him for volunteering, but he already has much to do. Suggest that other members of the group share the load. Remember that the “Super-nice” has a great need to be accepted. Also, do not scold him in front of the group; keep him in check.
The Negatives | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
Negatives or killjoys are often very talented people. But they are convinced that a project not entrusted to them will fail. Negatives probably say, “We tried that before, and it didn’t work.” Why would it work this time? The Negative has the gift of discouraging everyone if it is a question of undertaking a project. Instead of going to a meeting and coming back with a plan of action, the Negative works to sow defeatism and helplessness. And the more you try to solve a problem or improve a situation, the more negative it becomes.
The Negative is convinced that people in power make fun of him or that they think only of their interests. He ends up believing stubbornly in his negative remarks.
When you face a Negative, don’t try to tell him that he’s wrong to be pessimistic. Instead, highlight past successes in similar situations. If you are considering a new idea or project, immediately report possible drawbacks yourself. Next, invite the Negative to participate in the discussion you are leading. If it seems impossible to get him to share your point of view, you may have to act alone and tell him your intentions.
During a meeting, it is very important to identify members of the group who allow themselves to be influenced by the Negative. Don’t let it dominate the discussion by criticizing all your plans and ideas. Instead, ask others for their opinions on any problems. Choose people in the group that you know is realistic and objective. And if something goes wrong, ask how the error can be avoided in the future rather than dwelling on it.
The Know-It-Alls (superiority complex) | Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
Know-it-alls believe they are superior to others and show it by being pompous and condescending. There are two types of know-it-alls.
The Bulldozer | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
The Bulldozer is usually someone who is very knowledgeable in his field but who is unable to work or get along with others. He is convinced that the more he knows, the better off he is. He also thinks he is the master of his destiny. Therefore, he has nothing to do with the ideas and knowledge of others.
To deal with a Bulldozer, you must make him consider choices without directly questioning his skill so he doesn’t think he’s the target of a personal attack. The first step is to do research – arm yourself with hard facts before presenting your plan to the Bulldozer. Listen to him carefully, then paraphrase what he says to show that you understand the subject. Then, present the different possible solutions in the interrogative mode, introducing them with sentences like “I realize that this may not be what we will be doing in a year, but could we think about…?” »
When facing a Bulldozer, we tend to copy its attitude. If you think you are of equal skill, hesitate to engage in a one-on-one battle. Beware of your own “Bulldozer” side.
Do not attack a Bulldozer head-on during a meeting. Instead, adopt some of the techniques described above. If your Bulldozer tries to take over the meeting, acknowledge their skill, then ask others for advice. Remember that the basic principle of the organization is a democracy, which gives each member the right to voice their opinion.
The Show Off | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
Like the Bulldozer, The Show-off expects respect and admiration for his skills from others, but he’s just window dressing – he’s not an expert in his field. Often he does not realize that he is discussing things he does not know well. The Show-off is generally quite curious and knows how to gather information effectively. But it’s a quality that becomes a flaw when the information it brings you only tells half the story.
To deal with a Show-off, state the facts as they are, as clearly as possible, as you perceive them. Offer him a way out. At some point in the conversation, he will realize that you know your case very well and will “chicken down.” Don’t let him be embarrassed.
Of all the problems people described so far, the Show-off is the one that will give you minor trouble. He is easily spotted by most party members, who will treat him as an unavoidable evil. The Show-off takes offense if he is rebuffed in front of the group. If his behavior becomes difficult to bear, take him aside after the meeting and tell him things like they are.
The Undecided | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
The Undecided, those who delays, are very useful in their own way. However, as they put off their decisions, it’s only sometimes to everyone’s taste. The rub is that their procrastination can win out – most delayed decisions end up losing their meaning. For the Undecided, not making a decision becomes a compromise between being honest and not hurting someone.
When faced with an Undecided, try to help him tell you why he finds it so difficult to make a decision. What reservations does he feel about the project, and what conflicts does he perceive? Be attentive to his hesitations or his omissions, which can put you on track with specific problems. Once the issues are uncovered, help the Undecided solve them. If you are the problem, acknowledge any difficulties that may have arisen in the past, establish the facts surrounding them, and ask Him to help you. If you’re not part of the problem, allow the Undecided to see the points objectively. Help him prioritize the possible solutions. Once the decision is made, give your support.
Many meetings may pass before the Undecided participates in the group’s decision-making. It often happens that the Undecided internally, and sometimes openly, supports everything everyone says. This behavior can be very irritating. To end it, you may need to speak with the Undecided one-on-one while the party is away. Another tactic is to give the Undecided a job that will require him to make a decision. For example, ask him to coordinate the organization of a small booth. He will therefore have to decide on the booth’s dimensions, contents, and exact location.
Other Difficult Behaviors in Meetings | Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
The person who never stops talking
There are many reasons why people talk too much. The best way to deal with this problem is to wait for the person speaking to pause to breathe in, thank them for their input, bring the group back to the topic at hand, and continue the meeting. Here are other possibilities:
Ask the speaker to take notes;
Propose that everyone has the chance to express their opinion on the subject;
Set a good example yourself by not monopolizing discussion time.
The person speaking next to the subject
This person needs to be more informed or understand the subject. It is essential to act with tact. Help the person share their Ideas by reframing them more understandably. Refer to the agenda to show that she is “a little” off-topic.
Conflict of Personalities
When your group members argue, it can split the whole group. Bring out the points they agree on and draw their attention to the objective facts. Ask specific questions about the topic under discussion and encourage other group members to participate in the debate to divert the interest of the quarrelsome. If nothing helps, tell them to leave their personal rivalries out of the discussion.
In conclusion | How To Deal With Difficult People Behaviors
This fact sheet has described the types of difficult people and the attitudes to adopt to deal with their different behaviors. This kind of knowledge can be used to facilitate relationships within your organization, in your workplace, and in your family life. A good leader is one who knows how to recognize unwanted behavior and react to it effectively for the good of all involved.
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Moore, Dan E. and Hamilton, Lee. Skills for Working Together – Problem Behavior, Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1986.
Bramson, Robert M. Coping with Difficult People, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1981
Zemke, Ron. “Working with Jerks”, in Training: The Magazine of Human Resource Development, Lakewood Publications Incorporated, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 1987.