When it comes to dealing with difficult people at work, knowledge is power. And while small doses of cautious, confident, energetic and even negative behaviours shape our individuality, extreme behaviour can eventually be problematic.
Our Working With Difficult People course is ideal for those keen to learn how to negotiate difficult situations, address challenging behaviours, and handle tough conversations with managers, colleagues or customers. You will study the four types of difficult personalities, and learn how to understand, respond to and deal with them effectively.
You will also gain insights into your own behaviour style, how to manage your emotions, and leverage a variety of self-awareness and self-management strategies. You’ll then be able to keep everyone working together smoothly, and ultimately affect positive change in the workplace.
Outcomes that will help you with dealing with difficult people at work include:
- Learning about the characteristics of difficult people
- Exploring the four types of difficult people
- Studying the motivations of dominant-controlling behaviour
- Gaining insights into responding to a dominant-controlling person
- Examining how to manage your emotions
- Understanding what motivates people who exhibit analytical-obsessive behaviour
- Learning how to predict the causes of analytical or obsessive behaviour
- Exploring the motivations for the behaviour of expressive-impulsive people
- Studying the strategies for dealing with expressive-compulsive people
- Traits exhibited by sceptical-negative people
- Dealing effectively with sceptical-negative people
- Respond effectively to difficult people by
- Understanding human behaviours
- Learning how to reshape your view of difficult people
- Exploring how to respond and relate to difficult people
- Studying the actions to take to increase self-awareness
- Gaining insights into reactions that show self-awareness
- Examining triggers and reactions
- Understanding the signs that signal the need for self-management
- Learning about the reactions that reflect meditative techniques
- Exploring the reactions that reflect thinking techniques
- Studying how to identify your own behaviour style
- Gaining insights into behaviours that overcome negative conduct
- Understanding self-awareness and self-management techniques
- Learning about successful working relationships with difficult people
- Exploring self-management techniques
- Studying interpersonal strategies that help to work with difficult people
- Examining the ground rules that will help redirect the behaviour styles of difficult people
- Understanding how to direct difficult behaviour toward desired goals
- Learning how to choose the appropriate time and conditions for feedback
- Exploring the strategies for delivering feedback
- Studying the steps to managing conflict with a difficult person
- Gaining insights into interpersonal skills and strategies
The Four Types of Difficult People
The key to dealing with difficult people at work comes down to understanding common personality types and behaviours. The goal is not to change who you are, but help you recognise your role in difficult interactions. You can’t make people less difficult, so the challenge is dealing more effectively with their behaviour!
Once you understand why people act the way they do, you can better understand how to work with them — which is an essential trait of a good manager. A key strategy is to take a moment before reacting, consider their personality type, and then formulate an appropriate response without letting emotions get in the way. Here are the four types of personalities that are typically found in difficult people.
#1 – Dominant-controlling
These people can be outgoing, bold, assertive and fast-acting. They love a challenge but can be aggressive, demanding, impatient, power-hungry and insensitive to other’s feelings, including exhibiting bullying behaviour. And while they can be helpful when tough decisions are called for, they are often motivated by getting people to do what they want — their way. This can make them difficult to work with, because when they are challenged — even mildly — they struggle with controlling their aggression and anger.
It can be tough working with DC personalities. They continually dictate orders and make demands, which means colleagues often feel demeaned or even fearful. This can result in people having an urge to fight them or disliking themselves for giving in to them. The best way to work with DC personalities is to learn to think like them. Be direct, brief and respectful, avoid small talk, back up your position with evidence and refuse to give in to their demands.
#2 – Analytical-obsessive
These personalities are logical, methodical and detail-oriented. They aim for perfection, but their focus on doing things the ‘right’ way can often come across as nit-picky. They take pride in their high standards and are systematic in their approach to projects and problems, which are not necessarily negative qualities. However, they can be inflexible, stand in the way of innovation, and when they’re criticised, avoid the issue to minimise confrontation.
AO personalities are valuable in business, but they need to be approached with caution when you are keen to involve them in something new — whether it’s a conversation or a project. You should acknowledge their concerns without being argumentative or critical, and then address their apprehensions using logical language to explain the path forward.
Optimistic, enthusiastic, social and people-oriented, EI personalities can also be reactive, self-centred, and seen as pushy, ‘charged up’ or highly-strung. They often ignore consequences and refuse to take responsibility if things go wrong. They aim to be recognised for their work, however, concentrate solely on their own opinions and the ‘big picture’ and thus ignore inconvenient details.
EI personalities bring energy and creativity to situations but aren’t great listeners and they don’t like being controlled or confined. Try and build rapport rather than controlling them, and let them know you appreciate their ideas and energy. Then give them tasks that challenge them to organise those ideas, plan properly, and stay focussed.
#4 – Skeptical-negative
With SNs, the glass is always ‘half empty’, which can be wearying for their colleagues. They are often suspicious and pessimistic, which can promote poor morale in the workplace. Because they are always complaining, their negative attitude also impacts other people. They think nothing of bad-mouthing decisions and blaming factors other than themselves, and they take little responsibility for outcomes.
When working with consistently negative people, you should support them by listening but not buying into their negative behaviour. Instead, focus on how they might do things differently before they drift off into negativity.
The Benefits of Self-management Skills
Self-management skills can improve your workplace performance and maximise your productivity, but they can also assist you with dealing with difficult people at work. In particular, they allow you to control your feelings, thoughts and actions in order to get the most out of your colleagues — and the range of personalities that go with them! Examples of self-management skills include being personally responsible for your own:
Organisational skills can be applied to your energy, physical space, time and mental capabilities to improve functionality. If you are well organised, you are able to plan, prioritise and execute and self-manage your essential workplace responsibilities, including your leadership skills.
This is the ability to determine what you want to achieve in a clear and defined manner. In the workplace, it will help you decide what’s important, and then create an action plan around achieving goals that align with your values. It can also enhance productivity because you are able to manage both your actions and your time.
Maintaining focus, avoiding distractions and prioritising tasks can all result from possessing strong time management skills. Managing your own time is an essential part of managing yourself, however, in the workplace it can help with delegating team responsibilities appropriately, and setting and meeting goals and deadlines.
This is the ability to take initiative, anticipate and plan for potential tasks, and finish them to achieve positive outcomes or solve ongoing issues. If you are driven by a desire to succeed and not by external factors, you can enhance workplace productivity. This is connected to self-management in that it allows forward progress, and can play a part in inspiring others to do the same.
Stress management can take many forms, from maintaining an exercise regime and a healthy diet to proactively engaging in activities like meditation or mindfulness. Proactively managing stress at work before it becomes an issue that allows you to focus on your goals, progress forward and help you remain calm in challenging times. Self-managing your emotions can also help you maintain a professional workplace demeanour.
Accountability is the act of taking personal ownership of your actions and thoughts. In the workplace, this means you can positively contribute and ensure tasks are completed. If an issue arises, it also allows you to be honest with management in terms of how you dealt with challenges, and provide solutions to rectify the issue and move forward accordingly.
Learn how to address challenging behaviours, manage your own emotions, and work towards a more harmonious working environment with our Working With Difficult People course.