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THE LIFE IMPROVEMENT : Difficult Personality Types

Tutorial by:Sumit Boura      Date: 2016-05-25 03:39:24

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Difficult Personality Types

The following are specific personality types who may need to be dealt with using a variation of the methods described. (You may also be faced with people who seem to combine more than one type and will therefore need to come up with a way of dealing with them that combines more than one strategy.)

The Tank is aggressive, confrontational, angry and often abusive.


  1. Hold your ground, don’t get angry, defend or shut Breathe slowly and deeply.
  2. Interrupt the attack; say their name over and over again, firmly and clear
  3. Quickly paraphrase or reflect their main point.
  4. Give your point of view. Preface it with “From my point of view” or “The way I see it”.
  5. Offer them the last word, but you decide where and whe

The Sniper. Makes you look foolish with sarcasm, rude comments or facial expressions.


You have to bring them out into the open. Sniping is a sneaky type of behavior and cannot be done when it is made obvious that they are sneakily sniping.

  1. Stop. Interrupt your Look at the sniper, reflect what they said or, if it was a facial expression, a quick imitation.
  2. Ask for the true meaning of what they said or ask for the relevance of it to the present situati Remain calm and professional, no sarcasm.
  3. Repeat the process if there are further snip
  4. Use the Tank strategy if necessar

You may be able to find out that there is a genuine grudge, in which case it can be brought out into the open and dealt with, preferably in private.

The Grenade. This person attacks with unfocused and irrelevant anger.


You need to take control. You cannot stop the Grenade but they can stop themselves if the circumstances are right.

  1. Get their attention, call their name loud enough to be heard and wave your hands slowly backwards and forwards in front of you.
  2. Listen for the cause of the explosion, paraphrase and empath
  3. Reduce your voice volume and intensit
  4. Offer time out to deal with it later when everyone is calmer.
  5. Improve the long-term relationship. Listen to what causes the explosion and try to solve it.


Know It All. This person has a high degree of genuine knowledge, low tolerance of others and may blame you if things go wrong.


Your goal is to open their mind to new information and ideas.


  1. Be well prepared and know your stuff.
  2. Paraphrase and reflect respectfully and frequent They have to see that you have heard and understood them before you can redirect them to your idea.
  3. Empathies with their doubts and wish
  4. Present your information or ideas indirectly and cautious Use words like “maybe” or “perhaps” or “I was just wondering”. Use “we” and “us” rather than “I” and “you”.
  5. Enlist their help. Acknowledge them as your mentor in some ar Recognize them as an expert and that you are willing to learn from them.

Think They Know It All. They pretend to know but are usually talking nonsense or just enough sense to convince others they are right. They can fool some of the people some of the time and they do it just to get attention.


If you confront them aggressively they are likely to become even louder and may convince some who do not know better. Remember that their desperate need for attention is based on their insecurity and try to have a little compassion.

  1. Give them a little attentio Paraphrase or reflect their comments or acknowledge their positive intentions. This may be enough to stop them.
  2. Ask them to be very specific about what they are sayin Do not seek to humiliate or embarrass them.
  3. Redirect the conversation back to how it really Provide evidence if possible.
  4. Give them a way out. g. by acknowledging what they have said and perhaps linking it with the facts or saying it has reminded you of the facts.
    1. Break the Long term, try gently confronting them with the negative consequences of their behavior. Also give them credit whenever you can. This may educate them into how to properly get recognition and make them more productive.

    The ‘Yes’ Person.

    They are desperate to please and say “Yes” to tasks they have not got the time to do in order to avoid confrontation, forgetting earlier commitments. They over-commit and run out of time, then become resentful. They are unreliable because of that.


    This is another person anxious to be liked and you will need a lot of patience to help them. They lack organizing skills and the ability to recognize that they have a problem.

    1. Make it safe to be honest. Making them feel bad won’t get them to keep prom Use verbal and non-verbal skills to establish an honest and caring relationship. Acknowledge the positive intent.
    2. Talk honest Listen actively without contradicting or judging. Paraphrase and clarify, then appreciate their honesty.
    3. Help them learn to pl Perhaps look back at previous failures and see what lessons can be learnt.
    4. Ensure commitment. a) Ask for word of honour. b) Ask them to summar c) Get them to write it down. d) Set an odd deadline. e) Describe the negative consequences.

    Strengthen the relationship. Praise successes, detailing what they did right and acknowledge honesty about doubts and concerns. Be careful with broken promises: tell them what they did, what the result was and how that made you feel. Tell them that was not like them and acknowledge that they have the capability to do better. Then ask what they would do differently the next time.

    The Maybe Person. They cannot make decisions, procrastinate, and hope the decision will make itself or something else will save them having to decide. They get blinded by the possible negative side of each decision. They do too little, too late.


    It is understandably easy to be angry with these people but you will only make it worse. This is another case where you have to show you care, have patience and a desire to help so the Maybe Person can trust you enough to relax and think clearly. They need a clear strategy for making decisions.

    1. Establish and maintain a comfort zon Tell them how important it is to you to have a good relationship and that you believe that relationships improve with open communication.
    2. Explore, from the Maybe Person’s point of view, all the obstacles to making the decisi
    3. Use a decision making syste If you have one you use, teach it to the person.
    4. Reassure them that the decision is a good one and stay in touch until it is implemented.
    5. Strengthen the relationship. Help them see what they have learned from a su Take time to listen to their concerns and help them learn the decision making process. Perhaps encourage them to research and find their own decision making process.

The Nothing Person. Gives no verbal feedback or non-verbal feedback - nothing. They will slow you down and not say what is wrong. They are usually very angry inside and sometimes show that by breaking pencils or slamming doors etc. (Passive aggressive.)


Despite the frustration they cause you will have to slow down yourself if you are going to get anywhere. Intense or aggressive communication will only make things worse. Your goal is to get the Nothing Person to talk.

  1. Plan enough tim Plan well ahead. If you already have a deadline it is probably the wrong time. Plan several 15 minute ‘communication opportunities’ each month.
  2. Ask open questions and expect an answer. Try a non-verbal expectant l When they say, “Nothing” you could try, “What else?” When they say, “I don’t know” you could try, “Guess.” Or, “Make something up”. Or, “If you did know, what would it be?”
  3. Lighten it up. Try a little careful humour or make an exaggerated or impossible gu That may have the effect of making them be specific.
  4. If none of that works you could try putting yourself in their shoes and thinking back over eve How might you interpret what has happened to account for the silence? Make tentative suggestions and watch for any reaction. When you notice a reaction carry on along that track and they may start talking.
  5. Show the futur Help them to see the possible consequences of their continued silence. When they do start talking that is when you really do need to be able to listen well.

The No’ Person. Is very negative, says things like “hat won’t work.” Always looking for hopelessness, futility and despair. Often appears as mild mannered and normal.


This is another person with whom you will need compassion and patience. They are capable of bringing whole departments down because of their negativity. They are actually perfectionists who can only see things not getting done properly because everything will go wrong. Your goal is to move from fault finding to problem solving.

  1. Go with the low. Trying to convince them things aren’t as bad as they think will only make them try harder to convince you.
  2. Use them as a resour They are often able to identify potential problems missed by others. Use them to build your own character. The effort of remaining positive in their presence is a real challenge to be overcome!!
  3. Give them plenty of time and offer them a later chance to come up with a soluti
  4. Try a paradoxical interventi Bring up the negatives before they do or agree with how hopeless it is and suggest that even they couldn’t solve the problem.
  5. Acknowledge their good intent. Appreciate the negative person for their high standards, and their constant objections may be expressed in a more useful
  6. The Whiner. Feels helpless and overwhelmed by an unfair world and unobtainable perfection. They see problems as much worse than they really are. They will try to make others miserable too and offering solutions makes them whine even more.


    Don’t agree, you’ll encourage them. Don’t disagree, they’ll repeat their problems. Don’t try to solve them – you can’t. Don’t ask them why they are complaining to you, they start again from the beginning

    Once again you need compassion, patience and the commitment to persist. Your goal is to form a problem solving alliance.

    1. Listen for the main points, paraphrase and reflect. Write them dow
    2. Interrupt and get specif Ask them to help you and clarify specifically what the difficulties are. Gather information about each of the main points you have written down.
    3. Shit the focus to solution Ask what they want. If they are unrealistic, help them to reality test. If they don’t know try the standard “Guess, make something up, if you did know, what would it be?” type of response.
    4. Show them the futur Give them something to look forward to, keep them informed about progress.
  1. Draw the line. If all the above has achieved nothing, bring it assertively to a close. Something like, “Since your complaints seem to have no solutions, talking about them isn’t achieving anything. If you happen to think of a possible solution or change your mind let me know.”

The Chronic Absentee. This person is frequently absent from work, of sick, at a funeral or has many other reasons/excuses.


Even when the reasons are fabricated there may be a genuine reason behind them. Of course there are those who are going to take their “statutory sick leave” come what may. Bear in mind that it is important for the company to have a clear policy for dealing with sickness absence, which stresses support whilst ensuring that people do not abuse the system.

  1. Recognize that there is a problem and try to identify the cau Is the absence on a particular day or when a particular task has to be performed?
  2. Speak assertively to the person, ask if there is a problem they would like to talk about.
  3. If they tell you and it is work related, you may be able to make a difference your If the problem concerns life outside work you may be able to offer help or you may refer them to your work counselling scheme or to an independent counsellor.
  4. If the problem appears to be groundless and continues despite your attempts to help, you may need to telephone to check on where they are when they are of If they answer you should express your concern as to how they are. You may also wish to make a personal visit for the same reasons.
  5. Finally you may have to ask that they see the company doctor to check if there is anything else that can be done to help them get better. Any attempt to get rid of them must be managed carefully and only ater all the previous steps have been take

The Person Who Makes Too Many Mistakes. The mistakes may be immediately obvious and solvable, or they may be covered up causing far greater difficulties.


There may be many reasons why individuals constantly make mistakes: feeling nervous that they may not be able to do it right often causes mistakes, as do lack of training, poor training, or lack of ability to absorb the training. They may have too much to do or be allowing themselves to be easily distracted.

  1. Recognize the difference between those who do not care and those who are trying but still making mistak
  2. Ask if there are any problem Paraphrase, reflect, and start and finish with something positive.
  3. If this is a sign of excessive stress, you will need to take steps to alleviate whatever is causing the str
  4. Consider training needs and possibly coachin Will you coach them or appoint someone else to do so?

If this is also a “Yes Person”, see above.

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