Their offenses vary yet you know you can’t stand them – and nether can your colleagues. They are, among other characteristics, snippy, whiny, irritatingly silent and excessively confrontational. Calling them difficult is an understatement.
But what happens when the person others can’t stand is you?
Recognizing that you may be the problem – even if it’s just a behavioral rut – is a pivotal point in one’s career.
“If it’s everyone but you, it is you! That’s called feedback,” says Dr. Rick Kirschner, the Oregon motivational coach and co-author of “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring out the Best in People at their Worst” (McGraw Hill 2012).
Heed to the feedback. “The cost of ignoring it is the trail of bad reactions you leave in your wake, and the damaging influence those bad reactions have on things you care about,” Kirschner explains.
Kirschner and co-author Rick Brinkman, an Oregon naturopathic physician and communications trainer, note that all behavior reflects an intent. They identified four workplace intents: get the task done, get the task right, get along with people and get appreciation from people. When people’s intents are not met, their behavior begins to change, Brinkman explains. That is when they fall into one of the following 10 workplace personality archetypes:
1) The Tank is confrontational and angry, the ultimate in pushy and aggressive behavior. 2) The Sniper wants to make you look foolish whether through rude comments, biting sarcasm or a well-timed roll of the eyes.
3) The Grenade explodes into unfocused ranting about things that have nothing to do with the present circumstances.
4) The Know-It-All has a low tolerance for correction and contradiction. If something goes wrong, they’re quick to blame.
5) The Think-They-Know-It-All fool some of the people enough of the time, and enough of the people all of the time – all for the sake of getting some attention.
6) The Yes Person strives to please people and avoid confrontation. These people say “yes” without thinking things through. When they don’t deliver, they become resentful to those questioning them.
7) The Maybe Person procrastinates in the hope that a better choice will present itself. These individuals wait until it’s too little, too late and the decision makes itself.
8) The Nothing Person offers no verbal feedback or nonverbal feedback. Nothing.
9) The No Person defeats big ideas with a single syllable. Disguised as a mild-mannered normal person, the no person fights a never-ending battle for futility, hopelessness and despair.
10) The Whiner feels helpless and overwhelmed by an unfair world. Their standard is perfection, and no one and nothing measures up to it, and they love to share their pain.
“The issues arise when their intent is not met,” Brinkman explains.
For instance, the thwarted intent to “get it done” leads individuals with controlling behaviors such as the Tank, Snipper and Know-It-All to grow frustrated with those who appear to waste time, go off on tangents or just talk too much. Those who want to “get it right” start to see those around them as haphazard and careless; they’re annoyed by colleagues who use unclear words. The Whiner, No Person and Nothing Person start to get more pessimistic and perfectionist.
Individuals who want to “get along” grow uncertain about how others feel about them, and they misinterpret comments and facial expressions. The Nothing Person, the Yes Person and the Maybe Person start to behave inappropriately to gain approval and avoid disapproval. Lastly, people who want to “get appreciated” seek negative attention when they feel a lack to appreciation and positive feedback. The Grenades, Snippers and Think-They-Know-It-All react throw different types of tantrums.
Brinkman says most people can recognize that they have an issue when they are the ones who annoy others.
To turn yourself around, Kirschner and Brinkman suggest taking the following steps.
1. First, identify what pushes your buttons and triggers your bad behavior. What actually happens? Not your opinion about what happens, but what behaviors trigger you? Is it a look? Something that’s said or not said?
2. Once you know your trigger, ask yourself what happens? What behavior is it that you want to change in yourself? Be specific.
3. Now, what behavior do you want instead? The more specific you are about the behavior you want, the easier it will be to engage it when that button gets pushed next time!
4. Brickman says that a final step in the process is to think about and practice what you want to happen in the future. “Mentally rehearse what you want to do until it becomes a part of your pattern,” he says.
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