5 Ways to Handle the "Big Personality" at Work

How to Handle Personality Clashes and Conflict in the Workplace

The “big personality” at work can be extremely beneficial to business in the right circumstances, but he/she can also present challenges to an employer and to colleagues. These tips offer advice for key ways on how to handle personality clashes in the workplace due to a work personality that can’t be contained by cubicle walls.

1. Let All Voices be Heard

Some employees are made to feel like they aren’t as valued simply because the big personality speaks up more, therefore garnering more of a response. Take the opportunity to praise your other employees, too, even if their work is more “behind the scenes.”

It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but when your big personality is also a big performer you need to make sure everyone is happy and productivity remains high.

2. Lower Your Own Voice

Lower your voice and personality accordingly. People generally emulate others’ speaking tones. Try keeping your voice low and your comments rare and this will help the colleague reduce his/her tone without even realizing it. A big personality might require a lot of redirection, but helping to instill this as part of a pattern can be extremely helpful.

3. Document Everything

If a big personality is causing genuine problems and other more traditional solutions have failed, document everything. Keeping a private journal, printing out emails, and keeping records of the issues you’ve had will be to your benefit if any of the conflicts come to a head. Keep a detailed history of the positive attributes, events, and achievements as well. You never know if you’ll need it down the road.

4. Capitalize on Their Strengths

Channel the positive energy into something work-related. If your employee is a talker, assign him/her to an upcoming public speaking project. If the employee really enjoys delving into the details, tap him/her to “head” the initiative to complete an upcoming research project.

Big personalities respond well when others recognize their talents. Capitalize on their strengths.

It is important to note that big personalities sometimes need a change of tasks or work. For example, a big personality who enjoys connecting with others might be a star in customer service or marketing, but might not fit well into group environments. Think about whether your employee might be a better fit in a different department.

5. Address Major Issues

Don’t be afraid to address major issues. For many outgoing people, they learn quickly whether their behavior is acceptable simply by gauging your initial reaction.  Perhaps they enjoy telling stories while drinking their coffee, but it helps to remind them some people work best in quiet and to respect the atmosphere for their colleagues. Many people often need this simple reminder to keep their personality in check. Same goes for the big personality piping up during meetings. You can address constant interruptions with “Thanks for your comments, but let’s hold any other questions or comments until the end.”