Previously I reviewed Dealing With Difficult People by Roy Lilley. You can read the review here. Since I can’t remember everything I read in a book I have resorted to curating at least one idea from each book I read so that I can go back to it when I need to and apply it to my life when necessary. My one idea from this book is around, how to recognize different types of difficult people. The book outlines seven types of difficult people that you may come across in your work life or outside work. Here they are:
- Hostile and aggressive people: these are outrightly abusive people who can be bullies and very intimidating. They attack people’s behavior and personal character and like to make people feel weak by devaluing them. They are prone to exploding in anger when they feel threatened and so may raise their voice at you in conversations. Some hostile people are more covert in their approach. They pretend to be friendly, but stab you in the back. They also use light sarcasm and cutting remarks to attack people. Such people like to make others look bad so they look good.
- The complainer: love to moan about almost everything, but never take action. They usually don’t have a reason to complain and when problems do arise, neither do they have the desire to overcome it. They just like to find fault. Complainers tend to see themselves as powerless, prescriptive and perfect. They believe they don’t have the power to change things, but love to talk about how things ought to be. They won’t take responsibility or be proactive enough to try and make things right, they will rather talk about it.
- The silent and unresponsive: They deal with situations they don’t like by shutting down. If you ask them what they think about the situation, they will reply you with an inaudible sound or give you an answer that is no answer. Their silence is a defensive weapon they use to protect themselves. It may also be a way to punish others by denying them access, which is passive-aggressive behaviour. The silence may also be a way of covering up personal insecurities or a spiteful refusal to cooperate. People with this type of behaviour may display body language such as, staring, frowning, or folded arms.
- The super agreeable: Someone who is always very supportive, nice, reasonable and sincere in front of you, but does not deliver as promised. They don’t want to offend, willing to be friends with everyone and love attention. But they have a negative side, they deceptively lead you on, but eventually let you down. They have a desperate need to be accepted, will tell people things that are satisfying to hear and will commit to actions they can’t deliver on.
- The negativist: This sort of person readily disagrees with any suggestions and is also the first to criticize progress especially in group or personal situations with people. They can be highly sceptical and tend to have a demotivating effect on people. Over time others will rather avoid them because of their negative and sceptical outlook.
- The know-all: Know-alls have a need to be recognised for their knowledge and capabilities, so they like to talk a lot about how smart they are, pretend they have answers to everything and show off their intellectual abilities. They appear right about everything and it can feel pointless challenging them. They can be very persuasive even when they are wrong and they like to communicate as if they are talking to a child. Know-alls like to dominate conversations and love being the centre of attention.
- The indecisive: indecisive people can come in two forms: the one who wants things done their way and no other way and the person who intentionally drags out discussions with irrelevant contributions. Indecisive people can be hidden perfectionists who will not act or decide because they are looking for a perfect solution. Indecisive people may fail to act because they can’t deal with prevailing pressure. They might not communicate very well and tend to withold information.
So there you have it, a summary of difficult people in seven typologies. Most difficult people will be a combination of more than one and everyone of us has a bit of ‘difficult person’ in us. Whether you are typically classified as a difficult person depends on the scale at which you exhibit one or more of the behaviours. Did you recognise yourself in any of the behaviours above? Hopefully not.