By D. A. Graham
At work and outside of work, you’re going to encounter difficult people. The better you know how to communicate with them, the smoother your time together will be. Follow the pointers below to better learn how to connect with difficult personality types.
Types of Difficult People
Silent types are people who don’t say much. They tend to offer minimal opinions and usually provide yes and no answers. Below are some tips to help draw a silent type out of his or her shell:
- Ask questions that require him or her to elaborate.
- Encourage discussion by doing your research. Mention topics of his or her interest to get conversation going.
- Wait until he or she speaks up. Be silent until they do.
Self-appointed experts act like they know everything there is to know. They may think they have all the answers and may downplay everyone else’s ideas. Below are some tips to help deal with a self-appointed expert:
- Do your homework. Compile facts before you deal with this type.
- Avoid confrontation. Try to steer the conversation to wherever is most beneficial.
- Ask questions. By seeking answers and advice, you’ll be more likely to gain favor.
Threateners bully others. They use words and actions to belittle others and to get what they want. Below are some tips to help you navigate a conversation when you encounter a threatener:
- Be formal and professional. Don’t play his or her game; instead stick to what you know and keep calm.
- Don’t respond to their threats. Instead, move on to other points.
Dealing with an Angry Type
If someone becomes angry with you, try to limit conversation until the situation calms down. When it does, ask the person questions and show your concern; try inquiring about what you can do to help or what the person thinks would make the situation better.
Don’t draw judgment of the angry person. Instead, draw facts rather than opinions. Think about why the person is angry and what factors caused the anger to arise. See if there is anything you can do to alleviate the situation.
Sometimes you will have to say “no” to difficult and angry types. When saying no:
- Try to make it as positive as possible. Say something like, “It’s really unfortunate that we can’t…”
- Sandwich the “no” around positive or neutral statements. Try to add some light to the situation.
- Give alternatives that would be acceptable, and explain why the proposed suggestion deserves a “no.”
- Try to identify with the person you are saying “no” to. Put yourself in his or her shoes, and see if you can help the person further.
Tips for Dealing with Difficult Types
- Focus on the good.
- Be a good listener. Really listen to the person, even if he or she is irritating.
- Avoid being judgmental and try to stay objective.
What are some strategies you’ve employed over the years when dealing with difficult people? How did it work out for you?