How to cope up with difficult people (Part 2)

Understanding Types of People

1. COMPLAINERS

Recognition

  • Sentences, connected with ands and buts, that flow without pause.
  • Continued blaming, accusations, and putting down of people and ideas
  • Find fault with everything, and insinuates that “something” should be done, or that“someone” should be doing something
  • You find yourself automatically becoming defensive with, whether or not you’ve done anything wrong
  • State problems (that may correctly exist) as convincing accusations

Understanding Their Behaviour

  • Often complainers keep their own tension levels under control by finding a person with whom their  feelings can be put into words and this made more manageable.
  • They feel that they are powerless in the management of their own lives, as if the cause of all that happens to them lie outside their grasp. At the same time they feel that if all goes well it is due to good luck or to favours from others. They feel that roadblocks and frustrations can only be removed by getting others, the truly powerful ones, first to pay heed, and then to take action.
  • Because complainers often feel put upon, they often have an image of the way things ought to be and a heavy sense of injustice that they are not that way.
  • Complainers often feel that their behaviour makes them appear blameless, innocent, and morally perfect, at least to themselves. They feel good by placing the responsibility for problems on others, and then let the other person know that they are to blame, and should fix things. Therefore they like to assure themselves that they are without responsibility.
  • After a while, they perceive that nothing is getting done, and this just makes things worse for them.

Coping With Complainers

  • Break their self-confirming cycle of passivity,  blaming others, powerlessness. Insist that a problem-solving perspective be taken  towards their complaints.
  • Listen attentively to their complaints, even if you feel guilty or impatient. Gives them an opportunity to ”let off steam”, can lessen their feeling of powerlessness will provide further information, and may even conform that a sympathetic ear is all that is required.
  • Acknowledge and verify what they’re saying by paraphrasing and checking out your perception of how they feel about it. Be prepared to use a leading question to interrupt the flow of a ‘rambling’ complainer. Pinpoint any generalities by asking for specific examples.
  • Don’t agree with or apologise for their allegations even if, at the moment, you accept them as true.
  • Avoid a sequence of accusations, defense, re-accusations. This will avoid a continuing back and  forth of useless communication, and the chances that you will slip into a defense cycle.
  • State and acknowledge the facts without comment and apology. Let the complainer speak next.
  • Try to move to a problem  solving situation by asking specific, fact finding questions, or asking the complainer to do something that is relevant to the problem. If you can, get your action plan in writing, or the test of the complaint itself. Support anything constructive that they do to overcome the problem.
  • If all these fail, ask the complainer how he or she would like  the communication to end.

2. SILENT AND UNRESPONSIVE

Recognition

  • People who go silent at those times when you need an answer or want some conversation go out of their way to avoid answering direct questions
  • When they do respond to a question, it is usually a yes, a no, or a grunt.

Understanding The Behaviour

  • Unresponsiveness is a non-committed way of handling potentially painful interpersonal situations. It can be a way to hurt or control people who want or need communication from them.
  • For these people, remaining silent is a way of evading an exposure of their own thoughts and feelings. They feel safer to keep the words unspoken and skirt a potentially difficult issue.
  • We need to be sure of our understanding of the motives of silent people, so we need to look for other nonverbal clues to provide more insight. This in itself can be quite difficult and sometimes we can be quite at a loss to understand what the silence or lack of response means.

Coping With Unresponsives

  • The major coping task is to get the unresponsive to talk, rather than try to interpret what the silence means to encourage these people to talk, you must ask “open-ended” questions, questions that can not properly be answered with a simple word or a nod. With these general questions, good eye contact, and patience, it is difficult for the silent person to remain so, but it does require considerable effort to do so.
  • Wait as calmly as you can for a response, and make sure your eye contact shows interest and friendliness. Your eyes can show that you expect an answer, but don’t make it into a “waiting contest” for the first person to speak.
  • However be careful not to “fill the space” with your conversation or a suggested answer to your own question.
  • If you still get no response, comment on what is happening such as: “I thought you would have some ideas on this topic. What seems to be the problem?”.
  • This open-ended question puts the onus on the other person, while you continue your calm and your waiting.
  • If still no response, repeat your statement and another open-ended question. Be firm about waiting until you get an answer.
  • Sometimes a leading question can help to break the tension. “You seem to have some conflict over what I have said. What seems to be the problem?”.
  • If you know ahead of time that you will be dealing with a silent person, allot a time limit with them for “arriving at an action plan”, or some appropriate objective.
  • When this silent person does open up, be attentive and watch your own impulse to make a fuss.
  • Use all possible means to demonstrate active listening, and keep the conversation flowing by asking questions about what they have said until you see a chance to bring the discussion back to you own topic.
  • When the unresponsive remains silent, don’t be overly nice, but let them know that they will not be let “off the hook”. Be firm in stating that “nothing was resolved”,   but initiate the end of the meeting yourself and indicate your intention to raise the subject again.

3. THE SUPER – AGREEABLES

Recognition

  • These people are always reasonable, sincere, and supportive to your face but never deliver a promise.
  • They seem to be responsive until you need some action.
  • They always tell you things that are satisfying to hear.
  • They leave you believing they are in agreement with your plans, only to let you down.
  • Outgoing, sociable, personal, friendly interactions.
  • They may not pay close attention to what you’re saying, but they are very attentive to you.
  • They often use humour as a way to ease a conversation, or to send serious messages.

Understanding The Behaviour

  • Super- agreeables have an extreme need for personal affirmation. They want to be liked or at least accepted by every single person all of the time. For this type of person, the catastrophe to be prevented or evaded whenever possible is open conflict, with its terrifying possibility that acceptance, approval or love will be withdrawn.
  • These people often make unrealistic commitments, which are often made in good faith, when the ‘real’ situation would suffice. They often commit themselves to actions on which they  cannot or will  not follow through.

Coping With Super-Agreeables

  • The key  ‘strategy’ here is to reassure the Super-Agreeable so that it does not appear to him or her  that there is any conflict between “facing up to the bad news” and gaining or retaining your approval.
  • Ask them to be candid with you, assuring them that their honesty’ is non threatening. Make it easier for them to speak the truth  by’ making it clear that their criticism won’t earn them your displeasure.
  • Let them know that you value them as people by telling them directly. Ask or remark about their family, hobbies, clothes but you must be sincere. This gives them a platform upon which they’ can risk straight talk about facts. Be careful of any negative nonverbal signs of your own, as Super – Agreeables are very sensitive to these things.
  • Don’t let them make unrealistic commitments. If you feel this is so, ask them how they will achieve this, and tell them of any misgivings you may have.
  • Be ready to compromise and negotiate if there is any likelihood of open conflict. As they tend to be most apprehensive in situations in which they are likely to lose the favour of others, they are partial to a win/win solution. Do this as early as you can so it helps them to relax before tension begins to boil over the possibility of a conflict.
  • If their behaviour is accompanied by humour, listen to it for hidden messages. They often use double-edged humour as a means of expression. If it works the message has been easy, if it doesn’t they can simply say “I was just joking”.

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RACHEL KHOR 

Principal Trainer, Peak Success Abundance Sdn Bhd

From Directive Communication International & American Institute of Business Psychology:

– Certification in Colored Brain Communication
– Certification in Human Drive & Motivation
– Certification in Dynamic Speaking
– Certification in Curriculum Development
– PSMB Certified Trainer
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– Certification in Hypnotherapy from London College of Clinical
Hypnosis (LCCH)
– 18 years corporate training experience

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