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Five Types of Difficult Personalities

In a perfect world, all employees in a workplace would know how to communicate effectively and establish healthy work relationships. However, since we all have different backgrounds and experiences, workplaces are filled with all kinds of different personalities, some more difficult than others, making it impossible to get along with everyone all the time.

When employees fail to understand or accept these differences, it often results in workplace conflict. If not resolved on time, it can turn into toxic and destructive behaviour that affects overall morale and job performance.  It is important to understand the type of difficult person you’re dealing with and adjust your communication accordingly. Here are five different types of difficult personalities that can be encountered in a workplace:

  1. The Bully

Bullies repeatedly shows aggressive behaviour towards others, humiliates or threatens them. Other common traits include accusing others and passing blame, making improper jokes and insults, becoming angry quickly and not listening to anything other say. When dealing with such individuals it is important to stay calm and be polite yet assertive. Give them time to calm down and defend yourself in a friendly and controlled manner.

  1. The Gossip

This person enjoys in talking about other people, often behind their backs, and spreading rumours about others. They behave this way to deflect attention away from their bad traits or to create drama in order to entertain themselves. When dealing with this type of difficult person, remember that it is crucial to avoid sharing personal information with them. A good communication strategy can also be directly telling this person how their behaviour affects you. However, the best strategy is setting a good example for others and steering clear of gossipy conversations.

  1. The Pessimist

Pessimists spend a lot of time complaining about everything and dismissing ideas, usually without offering alternate suggestions. They are constantly negative about their job and co-workers and prone to overstating and dramatizing their problems without trying to fix them. When communicating with them, the main thing that you need to remember is not giving in to their negativity. Try to stay positive, avoid apologizing, and stick to the facts. Finally, ask for their suggestions on the issue you are dealing with.

  1. The Control Freak

The Control Freak is rigid and has no situational flexibility. This means that they insist on following the rules to the letter and that they try to micromanage every aspect of the workplace environment. They have impossibly high standards for their co-workers and are often critical of others who do not do things their way. When dealing with this type of person, make it clear that you are committed to working with them, but also set your boundaries. Try giving them clear, detailed reports and updates on projects, praise their contributions to the workplace and, most importantly, try not to take their need for controlling personally.

  1. The Slacker

Slackers are difficult to work with because they are unreliable and lack motivation, so you usually end up doing most of the work on your own. Let the slacker know the impact of their behaviour on you by giving the specific examples of their behaviour. Avoid an accusatory tone and show them that you are genuinely trying to solve the problem. Remind them of tasks and deadlines but don’t let their work become your responsibility.


Everyone wants to work in a friendly and productive environment, but sometimes, due to our personal differences, it may seem nearly impossible to achieve this goal. A difference in personalities among employees is one of the main causes of communication breakdown and conflicts that arise from it. Unresolved conflict can have a direct impact on the working environment making it even more important to master the skill of successfully navigating conflict for reaching positive resolution.

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