Surrounded by jerks at work? You can learn to deal with them, say authors Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner, if you follow their four simple tips.
“The secret is being flexible enough to develop the behaviors you need to reach difficult people,” says Brinkman, whose book is called Dealing With People You Can’t Stand. “It has to do with context and situation.”
The authors have come up with a list of the “10 most unwanted” personality types. Here they are, along with some suggestions for how to deal with them:
1. THE WHINER. No one ever measures up to his expectations, so he’s constantly feeling overwhelmed and helpless. His nonstop complaining will make everybody feel bad.
2. THE KNOW-IT-ALL. Don’t contradict this guy. He is always right and he will blame you if things go wrong.
3. THE THINK-THEY-KNOW-IT-ALL. These folks are good at pretending they know things so they can get attention.
4. THE NOTHING PERSON. You get nothing from this guy. No feedback of any kind, good or bad.
5. THE YES PERSON. He’ll say “yes” to anything in an attempt to avoid confrontation. He rarely thinks things through and tends to overcommit himself, then gets upset when he’s swamped.
6. THE NO PERSON. He has one word in his vocabulary – “No!” He uses it to shoot down ideas and suggestions.
7. THE MAYBE PERSON. He puts things off, waiting for a safe time to make a decision. He can be counted on to do too little, too late.
8. THE GRENADE. He’s volatile and unpredictable, exploding into a tantrum about vaguely defined things that have nothing to do with the immediate problem.
9. THE TANK. He runs right over you if you get in his way. He’s always angry and confrontational.
10. THE SNIPER. This guy loves making you look bad. He’ll roll his eyes, crack a joke, make a rude comment – all designed to make himself look better than you.
To get along with these difficult behavior styles, you have to adopt one of four possible approaches:
1. You can do nothing, but you run the risk that frustration will mount and satisfaction will remain low.
2. You can walk away from the problem person, especially if investing in the relationship isn’t worth any gains you’ll make by getting along with him.
3. If you understand why you can’t walk away, you provide yourself with a reason to deal with a problem person. For example, if you need your job for another year until you get your son through college, it serves your interests to put up with a difficult boss for that time.
4. Finally, you can change your own behavior to get a new response from that problem colleague. For example, ask his advice or thank him for his criticism. He’ll soon be eating out of your hand.