difficult people

We’re constantly being put to the test by trying circumstances, difficult people and problems not necessarily of our own making. – Terry Brooks

A workplace is a strange place; all sorts of different people are part of a team and have to manage to get along. Sometimes it’s not easy, especially if there are people in your team with difficult personalities. Here are some common difficult people and also how you can manage to get along with them:


The Narcissist

The term “narcissism” comes from the name of a figure in Greek Mythology, Narcissus. He was so handsome, he fell in love with his own reflection. We use the word “narcissist” to refer to a person who has an inflated sense of self-worth, truly believing they are more important than other people; that has an intense need for admiration and often lacks empathy for other people. A person exhibiting narcissistic behaviour might be suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Narcissists are often very charismatic, bright, and engaging when they find themselves working with people who accept them for who they are. Make an effort to praise and empower them. A narcissist’s inflated sense of self-worth often comes from shame and trauma. They actually need help from the people around them to hold onto their self-esteem.


The Slacker

A slacker is a person who avoids work or effort – that person in a team who doesn’t pull their weight. People are unlikely to pull their weight when:

  • They feel their work has little meaning or value
  • The value of their own contribution is indistinct (“If I wait long enough, someone else will volunteer to do it.”)
  • Their team doesn’t feel like a real community

The best way to deal with slackers is ensuring that you focus on the three criteria mentioned above. If each team member can see the value of their own contributions, they will be more likely to step up.


The Rager

A rager is someone who gets angry or upset easily – someone with a short temper. The majority of ragers will never commit physical acts of violence, but they can be very mentally and emotionally draining. Some of their behaviour can fall into the category of bullying. Having a short temper can be related to anxiety and stress.

Often there will be certain things that trigger a rager to lose their temper. It might be because they are pressured to get work done, feel threatened or out of control, or even when they are tired or hungry. It is important to realise that the problem lies with them and not with you.


The Naysayer

Have you ever had to defend your ideas from someone who consistently points out everything wrong with it? Terms we use to describe people like this include nitpickers, opposers, and fault-finders, or naysayers. A naysayer is defined as “one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is sceptical or cynical about something”. They always seem to see the worst in every situation, pointing out the problems and the shortcomings. Remember Jim Carrey in his movie Yes Man before he started saying “yes” to everything? Classic example.

However, naysayers can actually be very beneficial to a business. Their persistent fault-finding might help to identify some real problems that could have caused a project to fail. Try not to shoot down their criticism before you have really considered it, and don’t see them as being resistant on purpose. That being said – it is very important for the naysayer to understand that projects can’t be delayed and that they’ll have to learn how and when to express their criticism.