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How to Deal with Difficult People


Early mornings are tough enough without our most annoying client calling in with the usual simple problem that they are over-reacting to. We sigh and answer the phone - all while making the facial gestures of a person eating oysters for the first time in their life. Why does that client seem to be determined to drive you insane?

Every morning the manager from the operations department stops in to tell you how your team messed up his operations this weekend. He is SO abrasive. You answer him in abrupt sentences and quite rudely push him out the door. Why does your coworker seem determined to drive you insane?

Every Tuesday morning the boss has a "mandatory" meeting to review your prior week. You hate the meeting, and your boss is an idiot (and you know the feeling is mutual.) Why does the boss seem determined to drive you insane?

Sound familiar?

People deal well with people they like, are like them and like them back. That means that unless you work at it, 75% of people don't like working with you. Are you "reading" them and listening? Maybe not. The four communication styles are always at work... ignore them at your peril.

Here are some quick tips to deal with what you may find "difficult" about each of the 4 communication styles.

Dominant Communicators

Dominant Communicators don't like chit-chat and they can only win if someone loses. Keep it to bullet points, get them in and out. They become frustrated with long stories and explanations.


Influencers need affirmation that you really like them and they require a "win-win" to get along. They thrive on personal interactions. Don't be dismissive - let them chat.

Steady Relators

Steady Relators are team players. They support you and expect the same support in return. Show them you appreciate their loyalty, and give it freely in return to build trust.

Cautious Analytics

Cautious Analytics believe in the numbers and don't like to lose. They need to win, and they don't care if you win or lose (that's your job). Avoid personal chat, stick to the data.

Occasionally each communicator can be distressed. "Not OK" people can only be "Ok" by seeing someone worse off than them, and you are the only one in the office. Want to convert these difficult people to your side? Read them, listen to them, and rescue them. If they are not OK, be less OK than them! Check your ego - be emotionally detached always. Match & mirror their body language and tonality. It is very hard - very worthwhile and very profitable!

Read them, listen to them, and rescue them. If they are not OK, be less OK than them. Check your ego. Match and mirror their body language and tonality. It is very hard, but very worthwhile in the end.