Succeeding With Difficult Personalities 

Written by on January 26, 2017

You know exactly who I’m talking about. The moment you read the title, someone popped into your mind. You are reading this because you want to know the secret to dealing with the drama queens, the know-it-alls, the never-on-times, the tattle-tales, the that’s-the-way-we’ve-always- done-its, the…blah, blah, blahs.

Here is the first question to begin with…What do they need from you and your organization that they aren’t getting? What is the personal win for them?  What truly drives their core need? Is their difficulty because of them or is there any chance it’s because of their circumstances with you? You can take a hundred different personality quizzes, tests, etc. to figure out what YOU are…but that only tells you half of the story. It tells you nothing about the people you deal with.

I’ve done thousands of keynote speeches, leadership trainings, team-building seminars and I can tell you this…everyone loves to hear about themselves. We love that there is someone else in the world who sees things like we do…someone who organizes their closet by color and sleeve length…or someone who can’t stand for people to be late…or someone who can’t stand to be in trouble for being three minutes late…or someone who understands the need for a to-do list…or a thousand other things that make us feel normal when someone just “gets us”.

Some people walk out of those seminars with an even stronger resolve that they are normal or “right”…and those people have missed the point entirely. The real point of all of the testing, seminars, books on leadership, etc.…is…first…to create an understanding of who they are but more importantly, to understand the needs of those we interact with on a daily basis. Knowing who you are and what you need is important…no doubt…but knowing who your team is and what they need is even more important to anyone leading any group of people.

What does it take? Do the research. There are tons of good resources for personality training out there. I’ll offer up a few chapters in our book “What Exceptional Leaders Know” – Chapter 31-38…but you don’t have to read one single thing to begin the process of having a better relationship with the difficult personalities on your team.

Here are 4 simple strategies you can begin now:

Don’t react. Pause next time you are frustrated with them. Just ask yourself, “What do they need that they aren’t getting right now?”

Don’t make up a bigger story about what’s really going on. If we don’t like someone, the moment they rub us the wrong way we tend to pile on the entire story of why they are difficult to deal with. We unconsciously add it to the situation playing out in front of us and let it serve to galvanize our story.

Quit expecting it to be different. The biggest frustration we deal with is when we have unrealistic expectations of our people. Every time you are “surprised” by someone, ask yourself this: Is this a normal pattern of behavior? If it is…no need to be frustrated unnecessarily. You knew it was coming anyway, right?

Tell them the truth. This one is a biggie. I’ve counseled way too many people dealing with difficult personalities that have never done the ONE thing that has the easiest, fastest opportunity to create change. Be honest. Just tell them how their behavior is affecting the team and the organization. Oftentimes, that honesty is all that is needed. My experience tells me most of these personalities have no self-awareness, and they appreciate anyone that is willing to be honest with them.

Yes, I said most will appreciate it. You won’t be able to change everyone. Your job isn’t to change them anyway…it’s to make them aware. Tell them the truth. Give them a chance to make the changes needed to be easier to work with. What do you have to lose other than a little bit of time and a ton of frustration?