How to handle difficult people An individualised approach


How to handle difficult people An individualised approach
How to handle
difficult people
An individualised approach
to every troublesome colleague
How to handle
difficult people
An individualised approach
to every troublesome colleague
Table of contents
An individualised approach to
every troublesome colleague
The autocratic dictator
The fault-finder
The backstabber
The soothing delayer
The critical advice giver
The tightlip
Adresses Eurofins Medinet
How to handle difficult people
An individualised approach to every
troublesome colleague
resist change or shirk their responsibilities.
I offer tips to managers and directors on how
to handle such employees.’
In Bron’s opinion, ‘Deliberately annoying
behaviour is found most commonly in
businesses and institutions with long-term
The fellow-employee who always believes he
service relations. This is where people with
(or she) knows better, or the sighing and
privileges and instructions for use thrive.
groaning senior dragging himself along towards
Difficult people are also frequently found in
his pension - annoying fellow-employees assume
education environments. Lecturers have had to
many shapes and can thoroughly ruin a happy
change so often that some of them simply no
longer want to.’ Large hierarchical differences
Management consultant Jaap Bron has been
also lead to annoying behaviour. ‘Take hospitals,
running workshops on dealing with tiresome
for example. Many doctors adopt an arrogant
people in the workplace for many years. ‘In
my seminars I discuss people who knowingly
Of course, this makes it difficult for a team
undermine the positive flow’, he says. ‘They
leader to get everybody to cooperate.’
Research done by psychologist René Diekstra
According to Bron, supervisors themselves are
reveals that about half of the Netherlands’
to a large extent responsible for the behaviour of
working population experiences stress due
office pests. ‘They don’t speak to people about
to dysfunctional relations with colleagues or
their behaviour. They would rather be liked.
In this way, they actually reinforce the bad
behaviour’, he argues. ‘Actually, they should
Why do employees often wilfully undermine the
call them to account for their behaviour.
atmosphere within a team? Bron distinguishes
Confront them with it and tell them what sort
three motives. First of all, they crave the spot-
of behaviour you are expecting.’
light. And they get it, too - everyone knows the
troublesome characters in the workplace.
Bron has divided the greatest pains in the neck
A second reason is that they insist on getting
into six categories. And has also devised a plan
their way, which they also often do get. And then
for supervisors to bring them to heel.
there are those who simply enjoy getting under
the others’ skin. Getting their colleagues to fear
them is what they are after. Emotionally, this
makes them feel stronger.
colleague type
The au or
The autocratic dictator
The fault-finder
The backstabber
The soothing delayer
The critical advice giver
The tightlip
The autocratic dictator
The approach
This annoying colleague is noisily and abundantly
The autocratic
present. He always maintains that he is right
dictator wants to
and keeps pointing this out. His weapon of
choice is the rapid attack to terrorise his
manoeuvre his colleagues
into the position of emotional underdogs. This,
of course, is what you must prevent him from
colleagues mentally. Criticism always starts with
doing. Don’t shrink and cower; enter his office
the words ‘I think’ and lacks any further foundation.
walking tall.
In his view, nothing is ever right.
Consider sitting down on his desk. By almost
provoking him, you unsettle him. He is not
accustomed to people sticking to their guns
and not displaying their emotions. By not
acting in the way he is used to, you will
change the nature of the conversation.
colleague type
The fault - finder
The autocratic dictator
The fault-finder
The backstabber
The soothing delayer
The critical advice giver
The tightlip
The fault-finder
The approach
Fault-finders come in two types. The first constantly
A colleague who splits
asks for details. They delay processes and refuse to
every hair in sight is best
go by gut feeling. The second type is the naysayer.
Typical utterances: ‘That will never work’ and ‘I’ve
heard that a million times before’.
left to his own devices. Pay
no attention. You tackle the negativist by
enthusiastically joining in his laments. Outdo
him at his own game, and he will change for the
better with a reaction such as ‘it really won’t turn
The naysayer radiates a thousand years of misery
and regards his motivated colleagues as overeager
out all that badly’. Then you’ve got him where you
want him. Having a large box of tissues ready also
helps sometimes.
colleague type
The backstabber
The autocratic dictator
The fault-finder
The backstabber
The soothing delayer
The critical advice giver
The tightlip
The backstabber
The approach
This type avoids direct confrontation, but uses
An backstabber has to be caught in the act.
third parties to spread the message that he thinks
If you hear through colleagues that someone is
you’re an oaf. He is pleasant and positive face to
face, but negative behind your back. This is not
blackening you, get on to it straight away.
Stick to the facts. Say something like: ‘You said
this and that at the time, but now I hear you see
quite the same as idle gossip. The backstabber is
it differently.’ See to it that there is no negative
actively engaging in dividing and ruling.
talk within a team about someone who is not
present. If this does happen,
This colleague is verbally quite competent. He
fetch that person promptly.
often uses words that can be interpreted in more
than one way. If you confront him, he will say he
didn’t mean it like that.
colleague type
The soothing
The autocratic dictator
The fault-finder
The backstabber
The soothing delayer
The critical advice giver
The tightlip
The soothing delayer
The approach
This is the type who always says ‘Will do!’ or
Make concrete and
‘I’ll see to it’. But after the meeting, he thinks:
specific agreements.
‘I’ll think about it’. This is a pretend worker. He
does not want any change, but does not show it.
This colleague will hide
behind veiled language.
Therefore, do not accept ‘sure,
His tactics are to pull the wool over management’s
no problem’. Ask very specifically what he will
eyes. He simply wants to stick around without any
deliver, when and in what form. Subject this
change until he retires. His approach is not ‘I still
troublesome person to rigorous checking.
can until then’ but ‘I still have to until then’. If he
is confronted with his failure to fulfil agreements,
he has a vast array of vague excuses such as ‘no
time’ or ‘other priorities’.
colleague type
The critical
advice giver
The autocratic dictator
The fault-finder
The backstabber
The soothing delayer
The critical advice giver
The tightlip
The critical advice giver
The approach
Critical advice givers are convinced they know
Repeat what the critical advice giver says, but
everything about everything. Sometimes they do,
do not enter into a discussion. For example: ‘O,
but it comes across as very disparaging. They take
great pride in their knowledge.
IT nerds as well as legal eagles are quite prone to
so you think the summary should come first.’ It
should then become clear to him that he should
belt up. You should isolate the behaviour and
certainly not have a discussion.
this. Typical utterances: ‘I can’t believe you don’t
understand that.’ ‘If you can’t understand that, it
says more about you than about me’. Clever dicks
do not consider the interests of the team; they want
to put themselves in the spotlight. They want to
draw you into an argument you are bound to lose.
They enjoy cutting you down to size.
colleague type
The autocratic dictator
The fault-finder
The backstabber
The soothing delayer
The critical advice giver
The tightlip
The tightlip
The approach
The tightlip prefers to say nothing. If he has to say
Do not put closed
something, he keeps it monosyllabic. Favourite
questions to a silent
person, but inescapable
phrases: Yes; OK; well, it’s possible. The silent
open ones. For example,
person thinks: If I don’t say anything, I need not
do not ask him what he thinks
do anything.
of the meeting, but which part of the meeting he
He does not want to be involved in any changes; he
found the most important. If necessary, provoke
wants to quietly keep doing his own thing. In this
him a little by excessive verbosity and touching
way he dodges his responsibility.
him physically.
Another method is to keep silent yourself. If he
refuses to answer, do not say anything yourself
either. Keep looking at him until he responds.
The golden rule is: The first to open his mouth
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