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Dr. Rick Brinkman explains why people act the way they do and what you can do about it, to employees of ITV London, UK at their December Lunch & Learn.
I am proud to announce that our book Dealing with People You Can't Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirschner, McGraw-Hill 2004, 2003, 2012) is now in it's 25th language. The companion book which we affectionately call "the Cliff Notes" version: 24 Lessons for Managers: Dealing with Difficult People has also come out in Polish.
With the help of his two Cats, Neelix and Leela Dr. Rick will show you how to avoid the #1 mistake made when apologizing and a 3 step strategy to have everyone let go of the past and move forward.
Announcing the Online Class: Conscious Communication University Learn how to become a masterful communicator and handle difficult behaviors like, whining, negativity, attacks, tantrums, withdrawal and more.
Dr. Rick Brinkman gives you the secret strategy to get people out of whining and into problem solving. http://vimeo.com/73667665
Dr. Rick Brinkman and his grad assistant Neelix, explain why when people do communication training together, they reinforce each other into positive behaviors and the results are exponential. They also talk about the December training opportunity. (1 min) http://vimeo.com/79059269
I performed a webinar out of my own green screen studio for The Executive Roundtable recently. It was about the following.
Dealing with difficult people is something that everyone does on a regular basis. Leaders, in particular, may find themselves trying to manage and motivate people that they find challenging. But what makes some people more challenging than others? People often ask me what type of behavior is the most difficult to deal with. The answer isn’t that straightforward.
From my experience, here’s a list of the 10 most unwanted communicators:
- : confrontational, pointed, and angry; the ultimate in pushy and aggressive behavior.
- : rude comments, biting sarcasm, rolling of the eyes.
- : brief calm followed by unfocused ranting and raving.
- : low tolerance for correction and contradiction.
- : able to fool enough people that they are right.
The Yes person
- : eager to commit without thinking things through, which leads to resentment.
The Maybe person
- : procrastinates in the hope that a better choice will present itself.
The Nothing person
- : no verbal feedback, no nonverbal feedback. Nothing.
The No person
- : fights a never ending battle for futility; defeating ideas with a single syllable.
- : perfection is their standard, and no one and nothing measures up to it.
When people ask who the most difficult person is, I know that they’re secretly hoping I’ll tell them that the most problematic behavior is, in fact, the one exhibited by their #1 “problem” person. After all, it would validate that they are dealing with a jerk … and that they are not responsible for the problem.
But the truth is that difficulty is in the eye of the beholder: If you don’t know how to handle a behavior, it will be challenging for you. Because everyone reacts to thorny people differently, the behaviors that drive one person crazy won’t affect another person at all.
I recently spoke for a group of 75 people, 74 of whom were attending to learn how to deal with one “Tank” vice-president. A lone dissenter stood up and told her colleagues, “I don’t see what the problem is you people have with him. He’s a no-brainer to deal with.” Because she was wired differently than the rest, his behavior didn’t annoy or intimidate her.
Everyone has some skill handling certain behaviors. Other behaviors make us absolutely crazy because we’re missing the knowledge and/or attitude needed to successfully deal with the “problem” behavior. That’s where it pays to be a Conscious Communicator. By paying attention to what works — and what doesn’t — in human interaction, you can expand your communication skill set and achieve greater harmony with the people around you.
Which Behaviors Are Difficult for You?
In general, people who exhibit Get-It-Done behaviors are driven crazy by whiny or wishy-washy behaviors, because neither of these behaviors produces results. Whiners get nothing done because they are too busy wallowing in self-pity. Likewise, wishy-washy people accomplish little because they are fabulous at making commitments — and not keeping them. On the other hand, people who are friendly and desire harmony are intimidated by aggressive Tank-style behavior. People who are more expressive and emotional are driven crazy by Nothing people, who tend to be quiet and withdrawn, and vice versa.
Avoid or Play Nicely? Avoidance can be a valid strategy when dealing with people exhibiting difficult behaviors. After all, dealing with a difficult behavior takes a lot of work, so you must ask yourself if the relationship or job is worth the energy you must spend dealing with the problem person. If it’s not worth the price, it might be easier to leave the situation … or to get the other person to leave.
Unfortunately, leaving or otherwise avoiding a situation is not always possible. Perhaps you don’t want to quit your job … or your problem person is a close relative. In this scenario, you have to change your attitude, a process that starts by focusing on how you would benefit by changing your own behavior or attitude. When you successfully learn how to handle a difficult behavior, you’re doing yourself a favor — not only this time, but every time you encounter that behavior.
For people in leadership positions, learning to successfully deal with all problem behaviors is extremely beneficial. A leader’s job is to bring out the best in others, as well as to orchestrate a successful working environment, which means you can’t afford to have a difficult behavior destroying the morale or productivity of your team. Over the course of a career, you will work with all different types of people. Knowing how to deal with all of them gives you a competitive edge over colleagues who don’t practice Conscious Communication.
Though we are associated with "Difficult People our book is not about personality types. We find it more effective to think in terms of behavior and what motivates it. Why when under stress does one person whine, another attack, another withdraw, while others go passive aggressive. There are four factors that influence where people go in our Lens of Understanding human behavior.
1. Organizational culture
2. Job function
3. The people around us
4. Personal programming
Organizational culture is the behaviors both good and bad, that are considered acceptable and forbidden.
When I presented seminars for IBM's leadership series and talked about the Grenade tantrum, consistently half the IBM’ers in the room would say “I can’t imagine somebody doing that at work.” While the other half of the room would say, “Oh yes they do!”
The difference was the half but couldn't imagine it were IBM’ers who were always at IBM. The half that said “Yes they do”, were IBM’ers who get sent to someone else's facility. They realized their corporate culture didn’t tolerate grenade tantrums. However, Tank (attack) and Know-it-all run free as protected species.
I performed some programs for Chevron and people told me they have a term called the “Chevron Yes”. What that means is you are pleasant and agreeable on the surface but that doesn't mean you really agree or will follow through.
A second factor is job function. I noticed professional nurses can easily get into whining because often they are on the front line knowing what needs to be done, but trumped by a Tank or Know-it-all doctor and limited by a hospital bureaucracy. The result of that equation is a feeling of being helpless. Helpless is the root of whining. (Hopeless the root of negativity.)
A third factor that influences behavior is the people around us. Whining, Negativity and Sniping are virulent and spread like the flu and before you know it everyone is doing it. Have you ever noticed how one department can have an ongoing sniping relationship with another department? The other difficult behaviors do not replicate, but they still cause problems. Put a Know-it-all on a team of people and watch everyone turn into Nothing people who won’t speak up or contribute at meetings.
Your relationship can also be a factor. If a colleague attacks you may stand up for yourself. If your boss attacks, you may be more passive.
And of course each of us individually comes wired with some tendencies to where we go in the lens when at work.
To prevent and move people into the “Cooperation Zone” of the lens requires:
1. Recognizing where people are behaviorally in the Lens of Understanding.
2. Recognizing the factors influencing behavior of job function, organizational culture and team members.
3. Knowing the strategy to transform their behavior. Communication is like a phone number. You need all digits and you need them in the correct order. There is a specific strategy to move people back into the Cooperation zone.
Forbes Features Our Book, Dealing with People You Can't Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst
I'm proud to announce the release of our book Dealing with People You Can't Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirschner, 1994, 2003, 2012 McGraw-Hill). The original came out in 1994 and has sold over 2,000,000 copies with translations in 20 languages. In the new version we added three behaviors: Meddlers, Martyrs and Judges. We also added to Whiners and No people and created a new lens of understanding. For a free color PDF download of the new Lens visit: DealingWithPeople.com.
Negativity or The No Person is one of the ten behavioral types we described in our book, Dealing With People You Can't Stand, How To Bring Out The Best In People At Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirshner, McGraw-Hill, 1994, 2003, 2011). Negativity and its first cousin Whining are particularly insidious in an organization. That's because those behaviors tend to spread like the flu through a team and before you know it, everyone is doing it. Even worse, it can become a team habit.
The difference between whining and negativity is whining is a feeling of being helpless, the victim of people, circumstances, or ironically the present circumstances not measuring up to their own high standard of perfection.
Whereas negativity is hopeless. They have given up in the face of the same thing. In fact negativity is really fossilized whining, it goes on and on and on and finally they say, “what’s the use why bother.”
When people get negative they have all the sureness and arrogance of a Know-it-all seduced by the dark side of the force. ;-)
The first thing to do is knowing what not to do. Do not bother trying to tell them it’s not so bad or offer a solution. That causes them to go deeper into their quicksand of how bad it is. This is called a polarity response. Two-year-olds and teenagers can have a polarity response as a developmental phase. And when people are negative they have polarity. (Interestingly enough when people are whiny they do not have polarity.)
So if you want to have a little fun and mess with their head then jump into their quicksand with them and playfully start splashing around saying, “You’re right, it’s hopeless, why bother, nothing will work, we might as well just end it all right now.” And they’ll respond with, “Well you’re right but all we have to do is this…” Like magic they will talk solutions to you.
Another thing you can do with negativity is harness it for the greater good. I remember a woman telling me about her husband Bob who was terribly negative, always what’s wrong, nothing ever right. She said the Cub Scouts are planning a trip to Washington DC and the organizers wondered if anything go wrong so they decided to invite her husband Bob to a planning meeting.
Sure enough Bob ripped the trip apart in generalizations but as they kept asking questions they got him to be more and more specific. Then they said, “Thanks a lot Bob, see later,” and sorted for themselves what was an exaggeration and what should be attended to. This is called giving yourself an attitude adjustment by not letting the negative person be a wet blanket as well as using them as a resource.
For more click on the "Whining/Negativity" category on the left.
And certainly the book “People You Can’t Stand…” will also be a useful resource: http://www.rickbrinkman.com/store/books/dpcs.shtml
It is also available in audio book: http://rickbrinkman.com/store/audio/dpcsAUDIO.shtml or as a download at the iTunes store or at Audible.com.