As I mentioned in my last column, there are several types of difficult people. To deal with them effectively it is required to identify their common traits. Let us consider one of the common traits we notice every other day – a person who runs over everything because he or she has a tendency to intimidate others. We call them Adamants. These people get a sadistic pleasure knowing fully well they are wrong. You can correct someone who is ignorant but if someone knows he is incorrect yet says he is right, you have no option but to raise your hands up. Ignore the person and influence others too to ignore him. Once they can be made to feel outcast and inadequate there is a chance of introspection.
Second category we can call Loners because these people live in their own worlds. They cannot walk with others. They wish to develop their own style often opposite, contradictory and irritating. They usually do not respond to normal orderly techniques. Any kind of motivation fails to change their attitude. They often look frustrated with everything, their own life and the organization they are working for. But they have the tendency to give their feedback about every new initiative. These frustrated souls end up frustrating others because their feedback is worthless often given because they feel themselves superior and feel obliged to correct others.
Now the strategy to deal with the Loners or the Weird – First of all if you find them in your organization then don’t assign them any significant responsibility. Placing them in a position of leadership would be a mistake. Also ask their superiors to avoid giving them any job that demands a flexible person who can take their responsibility seriously. As I said earlier these people walk to the beat of a different drummer and they can never be a good team member. There are goals that have to be accomplished by a group of individuals. Such person wouldn’t fit in the group and even derail the process. A group has to follow a certain direction to accomplish a goal but a loner would try to pull the group to opposite direction. Although alone he or she will not be able to influence the outcome but certainly delay the result.
My personal experience says the Loners cannot be written off unlike The Adamants. The reason being as friends or as colleague they offer a different perspective to see things. Being loners they spend much time with their own thoughts and consequently such person is often brilliant and very creative. Now your job is to devise a strategy how his creativity and brilliance can be used to some fruitful activities. You can also try to develop his uniqueness. They are waiting to be used. Put them in the right spot and see the result. Always remember they work best when they work alone. Give them space to experiment and to flourish. Handle them carefully and they could turn out to an asset to the organization and on personal level they could be good friend.
However, dealing with them requires a lot of efforts – first you have to be very humble and forget you are his boss or you are more educated or you understand the issue far better. Never try to evaluate your leadership by their response. As these people are not good sounding boards you don’t need to bring them in your strategic meetings. Their opinion will always be off-the-wall, usually of no use. But when you have decided the plan of action call them and say, “This is the task only you can handle because it needs creativity. You don’t need anyone’s help.” Believe me, they will surprise you.
The third category is the Unpredictable. This type of person tends to be unapproachable because first you have to walk around them softly to see what kind of day they are having. They will be in a very happy mood one day and the next day exact opposite. They are like explosives. You don’t know when the heat will rise. So while dealing with them you have to be very careful. You will never be in a relaxed mood because you never know what might set him off. I feel this is either due to their upbringing or they have continuously failed in their life, despite their qualification in literal sense and otherwise also. Just close your eyes and you will find many around you, especially in the older lot.