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How To Handle Difficult Personalities At Work

How To Handle Difficult Personalities At Work

Learning how to handle diffficult personalities at work is a key skill of any solutions oriented leader!

Managing difficult personalities can be a draining experience, whether it’s in the workplace, within your social circles, or even within your own family. The key to dealing with these individuals is to first identify the toxic behaviors they exhibit and then address them effectively. This section will provide you with an understanding of how to spot difficult personalities and tactics for managing them constructively.

Recognizing the Signs of Difficult Personalities

To manage difficult personalities, you must first be able to identify the behaviors that signal potential problems. Some common signs include:

  • Consistent negativity or pessimism
  • An inability to compromise or adapt to change
  • A tendency to dominate conversations or impose their views on others
  • Passive-aggressive behaviors or manipulation tactics

By being aware of these red flags, you’ll be better equipped to respond effectively when confronted with difficult individuals.

Establishing Boundaries

One of the most important aspects of managing difficult personalities is setting clear boundaries. This may involve:

  • Communicating your expectations and limits
  • Stating the consequences for violating those boundaries
  • Asserting yourself when someone crosses the line

Remember, it’s essential to remain consistent and firm with these boundaries to maintain a healthy, balanced relationship.

You’ve probably heard that phrase before “Teams Go Where You Go!” And, you probably know how true it is. Take your professional team. Whether it’s tiny or its large, I’m willing to bet that your team encompasses many different personality types.

And frankly, some of those personality types may be easier to get along with than others.

Some people just rub you the wrong way. That can lead to workplace friction, but as the team leader, it’s your job to manage all personality types effectively.

How to Handle Difficult Personalities at Work

4 Difficult Personality Styles

Perpetual Victims

These are the folks who never take responsibility for anything; bad things just seem to happen to them. That can be frustrating, and the best way to handle it is to emphasize accountability. Be extremely clear in articulating what you expect from them, including the quality of their work, the timeline for delivery, and the metrics you’ll use to evaluate their efficacy.


 Nobody likes a naysayer, but these team members can actually play an invaluable role. The trick is to work with them to use their negativity in pursuit of positive result. Challenge these employees not just to complain but to recommend some specific ways in which things could be done better or to help identify real problems that other team members haven’t picked up on.


Narcissists and egomaniacs can grate, but the key here is to remember that these employees tend to be extremely goal oriented. So, you can maybe help them by working with them on team-based goals. Help them set some benchmarks for collaboration and for working with others. Alternatively, if your egomaniac is actually really talented, maybe try to give them some solo projects to handle.


Do you have an employee who always seems to disappear when there’s work to be done? That can bring down the morale of the entire team, and the only way to address it is to sit down with that employee and have a blunt conversation about your expectations. Again, accountability is key!

Transform Your Team

Becoming a transformational team leader means working closely with your employees to improve their behaviors—and that includes effectively managing these tough-to-deal-with personality types.

Let’s talk about this one-on-one; reach out to me today to talk about executive coaching! Contact me at or call 888-267-6098.

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