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Communication with Difficult People

Difficult people deny logic and sometimes they do not pay attention to common sense. Well, maybe they seem to be like that to you. The point is that communicating with these people is difficult. But because of various reasons it is necessary for you to do that. In this article we are going to find out what types of difficult people exist and then to find certain tips on communicating with them.

The Tank

Such people like confrontations, conflicts, and all types of head-on collisions. They are fond of aggressive and insisting behavior.

The Tank

Strategies against “Tanks”:

  • Hold Your Ground. Do not fall back from your positions. Switch attention to your breathing, watch your anger and stay totally calm.
  • Break the Attack. The best way to do that is to repeat a person’s name again and again insistently until he or she pays attention to you. Then express your thought. Tanks are very slow, so just shoot everything you think about the situation out.
  • Offer Peace. If the conflict is not that important, tell that you agree. And then just finish the conflict.

The Sniper

“Snipers” make rude comments, use sarcasm, and they know exactly when they need to roll their eyes to express their contempt. Their goal is to make you look silly.

The Sniper

Strategies against “Snipers”:

  • Stop, Look Around, Fall Back. If it seems that your interlocutor is a “sniper”, stop arguing at once, even if you haven’t finished your phrase yet. Let this person understand that you’ve noticed his or her behavior. Scan them. And they might think about your silence to be a hidden threat. This plays for you.
  • UseHeadlightQuestions. Use two questions to expose the behavior of a “sniper”. The first one: “What do you actually want to say with these words?”. The second one: “How is your phrase connected to what I’ve just said”.
  • Use Tank Strategy If Necessary. Hold your ground, interrupt a person who’s just interrupted you, deal with their charges and prepare to attack.

Mr./ Ms. Know-It-All

“Mr./Ms. Know-It-All” rarely recognize their mistakes and have no wish to listen to their interlocutors. Such person can be interesting at first, but their ego demonstration starts irritating with time.

Strategies against “Mr./Ms. Know-It-All”:

  • Get Ready and Study Your Topic Perfectly. Dive deep into a topic of your discussion in advance. /Ms. Know-It-All’s defense system monitors your speech for mistakes carefully. They’ll notice any possible logical misconnection and use it to discredit the whole idea.
  • Fall Back Respectfully. You need to do this for them more often than for any other person. Why? Because otherwise you will have to listen to them forever.
  • Present Your Ideas Indirectly. Act fast but carefully. Use softening words like “possibly…”, “just interesting…” and “what if…”.

Know-It-All Pretender

Such people do not always trick others. Yet they can attract all attention for some time and make other people agree with their opinion, especially if their collocutors do not have critical thinking skills and knowledge of the topic. “Know-It-All Pretenders” are so confident when saying something that there may make a fake impression of their words to be true.

Strategies against “Know-It-All Pretenders”:

  • Give Them Some Attention. Use two methods. The first one: be a bit enthusiastic about their thoughts, but don’t get into a pointless talk. The second one: recognize a person’s positive intention to reveal the topic, but don’t waste your mental efforts and time to understand the information they want to give.
  • Clarify Their Message. Ask them to explain what they actually mean. Most probably, they like generalizing and using words like “always” and “everyone”, ask: “Who exactly?” and “What does this actually mean?”.
  • Give Them a Chance. Resist the temptation to humiliate a person. Turn them into your ally instead.

The Rocket Launcher

After a short period of calmness, this explosive person starts telling about things having nothing in common with the ongoing topic. He or she gives out numerous emotional phrases without even thinking about facts and logical connection between arguments.

The Rocket Launcher

Strategies against “The Rocket Launcher”:

  • Attract Their Attention. Say their name, raise your voice, and try making them be silent.
  • Use Empathy. Show your sincere care about and interest in problems of this person. Tell what he or she wants to say. The point is to calm them down and let them understand you are worried too.
  • Lower the Intensiveness. Make your voice lower.
  • Fall Back. If you still can’t provide a reasonable discussion, make a break and put your thoughts in order.

A Toady

When trying to please everyone and avoid confrontation, such people agree with everything you offer them. They say “Yes” without even thinking about it. This means their promises won’t be kept. If you point that directly, they’ll feel insulted and blame anyone but themselves.

Strategies against “A Toady”:

  • Talk Face to Face. Such people often dissimulate in public by promising the Moon and the stars. So, it is better to talk to them in private and be totally sincere. Several meetings with a “toady” might be needed to make him or her keep a promise.
  • Help Them Keep a Word. It is time to teach such person. Ask yourself about the motivation he or she might need. What should be done for them to keep a promise? Help them concentrate on certain actions, steps and processes connected to task completion.
  • Help Them Take Responsibility. If a person had let you down multiple times before, ask them directly: “What will you do exactly this time to keep your promise?” Keep an eye on their actions.

The Maybe Man/Woman

Such person postpones their answer on purpose or procrastinates, hoping that there a better choice will be offered. It is difficult to deal with them about something, so original methods might be required here.

Strategies against “The Maybe Man/Woman”:

  • Find the Comfort Zone. Do you remember the case when you were saying to a consultant that you would buy a thing later? You knew you wouldn’t do it, didn’t you? So, start a trustful dialogue with a person. He or she needs to have a wish to make a decision on their own.
  • Clarify Possibilities. Study possibilities and obstacles a person has, and reasons for his or her doubts. To do that, just pay attention to words like “probably”, “I think so”, “this might be true”, and so on. These phrases are like beacons, meaning that a person either has doubts or doesn’t want to make a decision. Act basing on this knowledge.
  • Tell Them There is No Perfect Way. After that provide arguments for your solution. Keep in contact with a person and maintain a trustful relationship.


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