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Working with Difficult People

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Working with Difficult People

Prentice Hall Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The workplace can be a rogue’s gallery of liars, cheats, sadists and megalomaniacs. Can you deal with them? Here’s some help.

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Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


What is it about the human race? To paraphrase Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda, 80% of people don’t want to hear about your problems, and the other 20% are happy you’re having trouble. Those 20%, that is the backstabbers, saboteurs, sadists, know-it-alls, insulters and hotheads, are the subject of Muriel Solomon’s street-smart book. In it, the self-dubbed “strategic talking” expert categorizes many types of difficult people you might encounter at work. To make the book very applicable, she introduces each personality, explains why such individuals think as they do, how you are likely to react to their behavior, and what strategies you can use to protect yourself. Unless you work alone, getAbstract expects that you, like most team players, probably have your hands full dealing with a complete chorus of “false hounds” and “rascally knaves.” This book can help you minimize their damage. Since you can’t always get away from such people, you might as well learn how to put them in their place diplomatically. Or, if that doesn’t work, you can quote Shakespeare: “I do desire we may be better strangers.” Forsooth.


In a Personal Spat, Avoid Tit-for-Tat

When someone at work transgresses against you, reacting with hurt and anger is only natural. However, these emotions will keep you from thinking clearly, which is what you most need to do when attacked. How should you respond when someone insults or browbeats you? Keep the high ground. Do not respond in kind. You always lose when you get down in the mud with an aggressor. Instead, stay calm. Count to 10. Gather your wits. Then plan a strategic response that will let you mitigate the situation and protect yourself against future attacks.

Read the following roster to identify some of the many contentious personality types you may bump up against at work and to gain some ideas on how to deal with them so they can’t do you any lasting harm.

Hostile People

Angry people are burdened with numerous personal problems. This makes them depressed and constantly steamed. They cannot feel good unless they make you angry as well. Count on them to look hard for your weak point and to attack you there. Someone with a belligerent personality makes a very problematic supervisor. The best way to deal with an angry boss is to avoid losing...

About the Author

Muriel Solomon writes books on conflict, cooperation and related business issues. Solomon lectures often about her “strategic talking” approach to help people get the results they want at work.

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