Every workplace--and every department--has difficult people. In the first part of this article, you met five common difficult personality types, and learned strategies and tactics for dealing with them. In this article, Part II, you'll meet five more.
By the end of this article you'll know exactly what to do to neutralize even the most annoying of co-workers.
Meet Nellie Negative. Nellie constantly whines, complains, and
points out the downside to every situation. Complainers distrust
everyone around them, and have a knack for maligning even the best
intentions of co-workers and supervisors.
Complainers are exhausting and can dampen high spirits
faster than you can say "office party." They can also delay projects and
other work as they argue about why something shouldn't be done, or why
it shouldn't be done in a particular way.
Managing the Complainer
Most complainers possess the deadly duo of insecurity and imagination.
They believe others don't value their opinions, so they exaggerate them
loudly. When the complainer puts down an idea or person, don't argue.
Instead, stick to the facts. Reiterate positive aspects.
Meet Peter Perfect. Peter constantly strives for perfection, and
expects everyone around him to do the same. But because perfection is
generally unattainable, Peter torments himself--and others around
him--when his expectations aren't met.
Perfectionists constantly make changes in an effort to
achieve perfect results. In addition to trying the patience of those
around him, the Perfectionist can also hamper productivity.
Managing the Perfectionist
Because perfectionists tend to be indecisive, they must be given
very strict parameters. It is up to co-workers and project managers to
tell the Perfectionist how many rounds of changes will be allowed, as
well as when final rounds of changes are due. If the Perfectionist
isn't capable of walking away and calling a project finished, walk away
yourself. Remember, this is the Perfectionist's hang-up, not yours.
If the Perfectionist is your boss--or if the
Perfectionist tries to throw you under the bus--the situation can become
more serious. In that case, you may have to discuss what's going on
with that person's supervisor.
The Passive Aggressive
Meet Molly Manipulative. When Molly doesn't like a task she is asked
to do at work, or doesn't agree with a situation, she'll never speak
up. Instead, she'll get her point across by sulking, procrastinating,
or by being sullen, stubborn, or inefficient.
The Passive Aggressive quite often manipulates you into
getting what she wants through these behaviors, because if you don't
react to them she acts wounded, persecuted, and portrays you as someone
who is "out to get her."
Managing the Passive Aggressive
People who fit this profile have serious difficulty expressing their
feelings, and when confronted with their behavior they will often
sulk, give you the silent treatment, or simply walk away. The first
step in dealing with a Passive Aggressive is to ignore covert
manipulation, and not give in to it.
If you do confront the Passive Aggressive, focus on your
feelings and not on his or her character or behaviors. Because passive
aggressives feel that others are out to get them, focusing on their
character or behavior will bring out passive aggressive traits even
The Credit Grabber
Meet Thaddeus Thief. Thaddeus is an ambitious fellow who is quick to
grab credit wherever and whenever he can. He undermines the help of
others, or doesn't mention it at all.
The Credit Grabber is a particularly dangerous difficult
personality, because he creates a suspicious atmosphere at work in
which people are not willing to share their ideas, thoughts, or work.
Managing the Credit Grabber
The Credit Grabber thrives on being the center of attention, so
simply don't allow him to be. The next time he takes all the credit or
praise for a job well done, quietly call him out by mentioning how
others contributed to the success.
Don't be confrontational, attack the character of the
credit grabber, or brag. Simply state the facts, and then move on.
When the Credit Grabber realizes he's being revealed, he'll stop.
The Non-Team Player
Meet Louise Loner. Louise is quiet, removed, and seems apathetic
toward work. While Louise doesn't cause conflict, she also doesn't
contribute to the department's success.
The Non-Team Player offers no ideas, thoughts, or
solutions at meetings, and tends to complete duties assigned to her
with little, if any, enthusiasm. The Non-Team Player makes reaching
goals very difficult because, as the adage goes, you are only as strong
as your weakest link.
Managing the Non-Team Player
Never “make up” for the non-team player’s lack of performance.
Instead, point out how their apathy and lack of engagement has hurt
efforts. Try to engage the Non-Team Player by asking for her opinion
and thoughts, and giving positive feedback when she engages.
If you discover that the Non-Team Player is really just an
extremely shy individual who prefers to work alone, find valuable
things for her to do that gel with their preferred approach.
No workplace is without difficult personalities. Chances are you've recognized at least a few co-workers in Parts I and II of this article. While difficult personalities are ... well ... difficult to deal with, with the right tactics they aren't impossible.
With thoughtful strategies you can manage difficult personalities, and make work a more pleasant, productive place.