The Many Faces of Difficulty

The Many Faces of Difficulty


People – they are the most important asset of a business and the most difficult part of being a manager. In order to manage this part of the job it almost requires a degree in psychology to understand all the different personalities and attitudes that come with this ever important and challenging resource.

Now, I am not a psychologist, and apart from taking a few psychology courses in college, I am no expert in human psychology. But, as a manager dealing with people on a daily basis I have learned how to navigate the myriad personalities and engage people in a positive and productive manner, redirecting the negative attitudes and getting people to work in a more positive manner.

Over the next several weeks I would like to take a multi-part approach in dealing with the subject of how we deal with difficult people. This first part will look at the different personality types that we have to deal with and merely seek to identify some of the major features of each personality type.

In the second post we will look at specific strategies for dealing with each personality type and lay out very specific techniques for managing the most difficult employees we have.

In the third and final post, we will look at tools that you can put in place to head off, or prepare for your dealings with these difficult personalities and what you can do to make the most of your interactions and engage them in a way that redirects their negative energy.

We must realize that while these personalities can be challenging, people are who they are and we are not going to change them. What we can do though is redirect their negative energy and find their positive attributes and get them to engage in more positive ways.

So let’s start looking at the major personality types. I have attempted to identify a few of the more pronounced personality types, and this is by no means an exhaustive or complete list.

The Complainer – the complainer comes in two varieties one who complains about everything and everyone and offers no constructive criticism or input. The other is the complainer who is trying to improve things, and may have some legitimate complaints or suggestions, but cries wolf so often we just quit listening to them.

In both of these cases the complaining is chronic and continuous and causes people to shut down and avoid these people.

The Sour Attitude – these people believe the organization is out to get everybody, that management is against the people, and nothing they do makes any difference. They constantly focus on the negative and have a woe-is-me attitude. These people believe they are the best workers in the place, and in some cases they may be, and that all their problems are the fault of everybody else, especially management.

Responsibility Avoider – these people take no accountability for their actions and will always look to deflect responsibility for their actions on others. When you try to talk to them about issues and problems you will feel like you would be better off talking to a wall. No matter what you say to them, or facts you present to them, they will dodge, and duck, and never address the underlying issues head on.

The Spokesperson – the spokesperson believes that they are the voice for everybody’s problems in the shop. This person feels they have to come and speak for everybody even if the issue does not affect them in anyway. They talk to everybody and usually know everything little problem that is occurring on the floor. These people are often confrontational in their dealings with management and want to challenge everything done within the organization.

As we go through these different personalities, and ways to deal with them, please keep in mind that these problem personalities will exist in any organization and they are not going away. We need to find constructive ways to deal with these personalities realizing that as difficult as they can be to deal with that they also bring some positives to the organization. We need to identify the positive attributes these personalities bring and find a way to emphasis, and bring out more of the positive, while minimizing and directing the negative aspects of these personalities in a way that neutralizes them.

I really want to encourage you to interact with this post. Please leave a comment below about one of the toughest personality types you deal with and what makes it so difficult. I will respond to all posts.

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