Dealing with Difficult Personalities, Part 2: Webinar Recap 

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Difficult personalities are everywhere in life and a common environment they might be found in is this workplace. This seminar concluded the topic of dealing with difficult personalities and recommendations on handling them in the workplace. The speaker, Laura Wright, emphasized that while these individuals may be challenging to work with, it doesn’t mean they are bad people; everyone has personal histories that shape their behavior. The focus should be on managing their behavior rather than attempting to change their character.

“This is not about providing therapy, but about how to change someone’s behavior.”

The meeting started with a review on preparing one’s mindset as we discussed in the last session. Managers should approach interactions with hope and positivity, be emotionally and morally strong, and trust their gut instincts. Boundaries and personal comfort zones must be acknowledged and seeking help from HR or other colleagues can be beneficial when managing difficult individuals.
Laura outlined a step-by-step approach for successful interactions with challenging personalities:
1. Gain an understanding of where they are coming from: Seek to comprehend their perspective before addressing the issue at hand.
2. Focus on the Facts: Emotionally motivated individuals need to be redirected to focus on object information rather than emotions.
3. Define the problem: Clearly articulate the problem and ensure the individual understands the issue at hand.
4. Offer a solution collaboratively: Engage in a dialogue to find a mutually agreeable resolution, encouraging buy-in from the individual.
During these interactions, it is essential to sprinkle in positive reinforcement and appreciation while showing respect and empathy.

Following this, Laura introduced eight common types of difficult personalities and offered specific strategies for handling each:
1. Drama King/Queen: Redirect then to focus on facts, not emotions.
2. Negative Personality: Encourage them to consider alternative positive outcomes based on facts.
3. Blamer: Refuse to let them blame others and hold them accountable for their actions.
4. Problem Bringer: Guide them to solve problems independently, fostering a sense of independence.
5. Overly Sensitive Personality: Boost their ego and self-esteem, providing them with confidence.
6. Advantage Taker: Set clear boundaries and firmly say no to abusive behavior.
7. Confidently Incompetent: Help them focus on the job’s responsibilities and what constitutes success.
8. Narcissist: Compliment their intelligence, express empathy, and encourage them to consider alternative perspectives.

Lastly, Laura summarized key takeaways, emphasizing the importance of coming from a position of strength and personal values, empathetic listening, setting boundaries, and never accepting abusive behavior.

During Q&A, additional strategies were shared, such as offering clear written instructions, providing training, and demonstrating compassion and curiosity in dealing with difficult personalities. Moreover, the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the unaffected team members was highlighted, helping them navigate the challenges presented by difficult colleagues.

In conclusion, managing difficult personalities in the workplace requires patience, empathy, and firmness. By employing effective communication and understanding their underlying motivations, managers can navigate challenging interactions and create a positive work environment for all team members.
To watch the full webinar on Dealing With Difficult Personalities Part 2, visit our YouTube channel where you have access to every Lunch and Learn we’ve done so far!

About Laura Wright
Laura Wright is CEO and co-owner of CSW, Inc. based in Ludlow, Massachusetts. CSW, Inc. provides prepress solutions to the packaging industry and is known for providing high quality products, technical expertise and support. Clients include Blue Triton Brands, P&G, Boston Beer, WestRock, Packaging Corporation of America and Rand Whitney. Laura has served on the boards of the Pioneer Valley Montessori School, the Flexographic Prepress Platemakers Association, MicroTek Inc., The Flexographic Technical Association and New England Public Media. She is an active member of the Flexographic Technical Association, the Association of Diecutters and Diemakers, and Associated Industries of Massachusetts. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1988 with a B.A. in Biological Anthropology. She currently resides in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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