by Colleen Kettenhofen

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”
Foe Ancis

First of all, we can all possess these traits at times. The key is… how do you handle people who are these difficult personality types all the time?!

Perfectionists: Double-check your work before handing it in to them. Accuracy is everything to the perfectionist. Ask questions if you’re not certain how to do something. Know their expectations. Do the work, then let them perfect it. It gives them the feeling of “control.” What effect are they having on the rest of the team? Are they being detrimental to morale? Are they such picky perfectionists that they’re missing deadlines? Show them deadlines in writing and explain what could happen if they miss the deadline. Explain its overall effect on the big picture.

Know-it-alls: Listen first. Analyze. Then speak your mind or perform the expected task. Let them vent within reason. It will help to diffuse their anger and their emotions. In a meeting, make sure everyone has a chance to share. A key phrase that often works with these individuals is, “you know, you may be right.” Often they simply want acknowledgement. Just because you acknowledge doesn’t mean you agree. In meetings, appoint a timekeeper with a timer if necessary. Otherwise, these people can become monopolizers who run off on tangents. Sometimes you have to let these people have their way. In doing so, they often end up hanging themselves. They experience their own failures.

Insubordinate Subordinates: Document. Get at the root cause of what is causing their behavior. Often these people have been micromanaged in the past and need space. Still, hold them accountable for the results. Allow them to vent within reason. Adapt, breathe and let them “cool their jets.” Then readdress the issue. You have to choose your battles. Should you consider meeting them halfway? Lastly, move to resolve the issue quickly. If you are the manager and they don’t improve, leave a “paper trail.” If you have a Human Resources department, notify them immediately and give the proper documentation. Progressive disciplinary steps such as counseling, coaching, verbal and written “warnings” may be necessary. Do not allow them to get away with the behavior. It will be a negative reflection on you.

November 12, 2004

You are free to reprint or repost this article for use in your newsletters, association publications, or intranet provided Colleen Kettenhofen’s contact information (name, website, and email) is included with the article. Colleen Kettenhofen is a Phoenix, Arizona motivational speaker, trainer, & co-author of “The Masters of Success ,” featured on NBC’s Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For free articles, video clips, and e-newsletter, visit Colleen’s area of expertise are leadership, managing people, life balance, difficult people, presentation skills. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars.


She can be reached at contact information listed below:

Colleen Kettenhofen

(971) 212-0479


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