From the overly confident to the overly negative, dealing with difficult personalities is a skill every team member should master.
“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men.” ~ Albert Einstein
So, you’re on a team. Your team has a mission. The only problem is: your team has people in it. Not just ANY people, people with difficult personalities. You can throw your hands up and scream every time these difficult people rub you the wrong way, or you can learn productive ways of working with them without going insane.
Dealing with Difficult Personalities within a Team? Change Your Own Behavior
Let’s face it; people will not change just because you want them to. As any psychologist will tell you, the only way to change how you feel about a situation (or another person, for that matter) is to change your own behavior in coping. Here are a few examples of difficult personalities and simple ways of dealing with them when working within a team.
The Bully is argumentative, aggressive and intimidating. To deal with The Bully, you will need to avoid arguing with him/her while maintaining control of each discussion. Sometimes, in order to maintain control without fueling The Bully’s flame, you will have to state your opinion clearly, succinctly, and directly and ignore their attempts at trapping you into an argument. In dealing with difficult personalities within a team, face the fact that you will not win in a debate with this person. No one will. It is easier not to incite workplace bullies. And workplace bullying is at an all-time high. How do I know? It’s the topic I’m most frequently asked to speak on when I’m a guest on a radio show.
Negative Nelly sees the unfavorable in every situation. To them, every idea is bad and every attempt at a solution to a problem will result in a negative outcome. Negative Nelly thrives on when he/she can say the following words: I TOLD YOU SO, or, THAT WON’T WORK. No one likes to hear those words. The best way to deal with this difficult person is to avoid discussing solutions with them. When these situations cannot be avoided, try to remain positive and realistic. Assume Negative Nelly will bring the “I told you so’s” along to every discussion and be prepared not to let them get to you. When I conduct leadership seminars and keynotes for corporations and associations, bosses tell me that one of their biggest frustrations is negativity. It’s easy to see why. If it’s not dealt with, it can become like a cancer that spreads!
The Over Achiever or Know-It-All
The Over Achiever seems to know everything. This “Know-It-All” person can spew out “facts” on any given subject. They are similar to the workplace bullies. The Over Achiever likes to stand in the spotlight and wants everyone to “know” how smart he/she is. Many times, it’s just easier not to get wrapped up in conversation with this person to avoid all the know-it-all-ness about them! But, it can be more productive to admit to yourself (and to them) that they may actually be a great source of knowledge. Ask a few questions and throw in some praise now and then–sincere praise, of course! you may see that their need to “show off” might dissipate a bit once they realize that others appreciate their knowledge base.
The Non-Team Player
The person within the team who is obviously NOT a team player will be the most difficult personality to deal with. The Non-Team Player is the most destructive person on the team. Again, these people are similar to workplace bullies but in a different, “silent” antagonistic fashion. This person does not share knowledge and does not participate well in open discussions. They always seem to be “doing things” behind everyone’s backs”. Everyone questions the motives of this person. The most effective way of dealing with The Non-Team Player is by kindly questioning them in group discussions. Don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. Force them to participate by including them as much as possible in all team activities.
Dealing with difficult personalities seems to increase exponentially in difficulty when working within a team. It is important to keep in mind that you are all on the same team working towards the same goal. And most importantly, you all NEED each other. Each individual team member’s skill sets and strengths were sought out for a reason: to complete a team. Learn to appreciate what each person has to offer and to work effectively with those who tend to make things a little difficult at times. It may not be easy at first, but in dealing with difficult personalities within a team, it will certainly help in securing your sanity!
It’s like the old cliche’ goes: It takes all kinds of personalities to make the world go ’round!
It is in how YOU deal with them that defines who YOU are (and how you feel)!
About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert, and Motivational Speaker
Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 dynamic and entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.
A Portland, Oregon-based motivational speaker, Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.