Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Toxic People

Do you ever have to work with people that just drain the life out of you?  I'm not referring to patients, but to those colleagues and consultants that you have to deal with on a daily basis.  I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a lecture given by Marsha Petrie Sue, author of Toxic People and The Reactor Factor.  I think we can all benefit from an understanding of her approach to reading people and managing conflict.

So who are the players?

Steamrollers: These are the bullies.  They come off as overbearing and try to make you feel small

Zipper Lips: "Verbal Anorexic."  They think of their knowledge as power and don't share it

Back Stabbers: People that are in it for themselves, always looking for an advantage

Know-It-All: These guys LOVE the limelight and have a hard time letting other contribute

Needie-Weenie: People with this type of personality are fearful of change and have a need to be liked

Wine and Cheeser: Nothing is ever right to these people.  They do make good Devil's Advocates though. . .

And how do you deal with them?

First, reflect on whether you react or respond.  You need to take the time to mentally step back and respond.  Reacting just gets in the way of progress.

Since Steamrollers try to be overbearing, first, use their name.  A persons own name is the most recognizable word in their vocabulary.  This technique stops them in the tracks and opens their ears.

Example: "Rob, as I was saying, to fix this we could _______."

To deal with a Zipperlip, you need to change the rules they like to play by.  Call them on their habit.  Give them deadlines but be willing to wait, and wait, and wait, if they decide not to respond.

Example: "I expected you to respond by  now, we can schedule a time to meet this afternoon instead if it is better for your schedule."  This puts the ball into their court.  Resisting involvement now takes time away from them until they participate.

Back Stabbers are best dealt with in public.  Try to call them out on their behavior.

Example: "That did sound like you were serious.  Is this something we need to address?  Does everyone else feel this way"

Know-It-Alls: In this case, busy hands are happy hands.  Give them a task and they're in seventh heaven.

Example: "Rob, you're the expert in this case.  Why don't you help me understand  where you're coming from.  Also, can you help me keep track of all of the other ideas offered today?"

Needie-Weenies: In order to get buy in, you need to allow this type of personality to lead some of the change.

Example: "I'm glad that you basically agree with the curriculum updates.  What part could be most improved?"

Wine and Cheesers: These guys just love to complain.  To deal with them, call their issue and offer to help.

Example: "Are you looking for specific solutions to the call schedule mishap, or do you just want me to look into the problem with you?"

These are just a few of the many methods for dealing with the various types of personalities.  A better understanding of the players helps to make teams more effective and improves the workplace culture.

Now that you know these quick tricks, what is your type?  I personally think that I'm a know-it-all and when I don't feel appreciated, I can become a zipperlip.  You?

Also, what techniques have you found helpful in dealing with the various types?

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