difficult people

How To Deal With Different Types Of Difficult People At Work

11 months ago By Mahmoud Warda

From the time you leave home till the time you’re back again, you’re forced to face different, and possibly difficult, people. It’s usually at work where you’re faced with difficult and/or complicated people who are the hardest to handle, but we found John Hoover’s book Difficult People to be useful in identifying different types of problematic co-workers and the best ways to deal with them. 

1. The Slave Driver

Someone who makes unreasonable demands on your time, resources and attention. Slave drivers are almost always people you report to, and they may expect you to accomplish enormous amounts of work in incredibly short time frames.

What you can do about the slave driver: 

No matter what the reason for the slave driver’s behavior, your approach must always be positive and helpful; you want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.


2. The Black Hole

Someone who takes everything you can give and then asks for more. The black hole personality relentlessly demands approval, time, attention and distracts you from your own work.

What you can do about the black hole

You should take an active interest in their work. If you can build up their confidence, they’ll stop looking to you for help all the time and you can also encourage them to move forward or bring them into the group.

3. The Minutiae Monster

Someone who is inefficient, unfocused and obsessed with details. Minutiae monsters are time wasters, known for being indecisive, getting tangled up in details and straying off course. 

What you can do about the minutiae monster

Give him micro rather than macro decisions to make, and don’t let him languish without the tools and help necessary to get organized. Establishing clear priorities and deadlines for him will yield more timely responses to the demands of his job.


 4. The Busybody

Someone who doesn’t respect personal and professional boundaries. He/she takes up other people’s time discussing personal issues unrelated to work or gossiping about other people at work. 

What you can do about the busybody

You can make him feel connected by engaging him in work-related conversation and activities. The key is to refuse to let him pull you into discussions of his personal life, your own, or that of the people around you.

5. The Recluse

Someone who is isolated and does not communicate with co-workers. It’s the person who hides in his office and avoids interaction with others. As long as he is doing his work, his isolation may not be an issue.

What you can do about the recluse

Try to discern the reason for the recluse’s isolation, but don’t force him to be sociable. If he’s shy, find ways to interact without making him uncomfortable.

6. The Liar

A person who deliberately breaks the rules and misleads you. Dishonesty is a tough thing to deal with in the workplace and dishonest people are among the most difficult.

What you can do about the liar

Depending on how quickly and effectively you deal with the situation and how well your solutions resonate with your boss’s ideas, your job could be at stake. The first thing to do is to weigh your options. Then take action, decisive and possibly defensive action.


7. The Outlaw

Someone who doesn’t play by the rules unless they’re his own. An outlaw has never met a rule or regulation she/he likes. In the belief that everybody should be free to come and go as they like, she/he defies convention. Sometimes they become folk heroes or unfortunate role models.

What you can do about the outlaw

Ignoring the rules is not always bad. You can learn a lesson from the outlaws working for you: questioning authority and the way things have always been done can give you some new ideas. Nurture curiosity among your team, loosen the reins a bit.

8. The Blamer-Complainer 

Someone who blames you and others for his mistakes, sometimes called whiners because of their tone of voice when blaming and complaining; they’re probably the most common type of difficult people.

 What you can do about the blamer-complainer

If the blamer-complainer works for you or is a peer, you will probably not be able to convince him to accept responsibility for failure; instead, preempt him by adopting a shared-responsibility policy. Set a fine example, accepting blame for mistakes when you make them.

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