Everyone is irritable or indecisive at times.
But some people are so difficult that they make others' lives and
work a strain. Dealing with difficult people is easier when you
learn to recognize some common personality types. Then you can
develop coping skills for dealing with each without trying to
There are seven behavior types with whom most
people have difficulty.
- Bullies are hostile and angry,
throwing tantrums to get their way.
- Gripers complain about things they
don't like, but rarely try to change their situation.
- Silent types don't say much: you
can beg, yell, or talk to them, but they don't say more
than "yes" or "no". Very nice people
seem to agree with you, but won't do what they say they
- Just say no types respond to new
ideas with "That won't work." I know better
types think they know everything. They're condescending
and full of themselves.
- Stallers put things off until
someone else takes over, or until the decision is made
because of the delay.
How to Cope
These behaviors are annoying and upsetting.
They keep everyone but the difficult person off balance. This can
be true even though they may not be trying to control others.
Coping balances the power between people. It helps everyone get
things done without stalling at the roadblocks difficult people
set up. When someone practices difficult behaviors around you,
try these techniques:
For bullies, stand up for yourself. Use phrases
like "I believe" or "I feel." Don't try to
fight them. Instead make your point firmly.
For gripers, know you've heard their concern.
Directly ask, "What is it that you want?"
For silent types, ask questions that must be
answered by more than "yes" or "no." If you
get no response, let the silent type know your plans. Very nice
people have a strong need to be liked; show them that you do.
Then dig to find out what's really happening.
Don't argue with just say no types. Instead,
suggest what won't work before they do. For I know better types,
have all the facts before you meet. Raise possible problems, and
be ready to follow through.
Listen to stallers; find out what the real
reason for the delay is. Help them, and ask them for help.
Worth the Effort
You can't always avoid difficult people.
Learning to cope with them is worth the effort. You'll get more
done and be less frustrated if you do.
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