January 18, 2007

The Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper...

What kind of difficult person are you? I mean, how do you deal with the difficult people in your life? Be careful answering. How can you answer without complaining, whining, or sniping?

This article is about all the self-help books about dealing with difficult people. I'll bet the difficult people themselves are buying a lot of them, don't you? I'm thinking that what makes them so difficult is that they think so many other people are difficult.

Anyway:
Several authors think it is useful to characterize infuriating people into types and prescribe ways to deal with them, as Robert M. Bramson did in 1981 in “Coping With Difficult People,” one of the first popular books on the topic. Its overarching lesson is to find a way to communicate with these people because they are not going away. Dr. Bramson lists seven difficult behavior types: Hostile-Aggressives, Complainers, Silent and Unresponsives, Super-Agreeables, Know-It-All Experts, Negativists and Indecisives.
Categorizers...

16 comments:

Simon said...

Haha. In their illustration, "agreeable" looks like John Roberts and "aggressive" bears a faint resemblance to Nino. ;)

bill said...

Then there's the crazy people living below you.

Pogo said...

There is indeed an industry about this. I have even given talks myself on the subject. I have perhaps 30 or 40 books on the topic at home. Some are useful, others not so much.

I would suggest that a good portion of this phenomenon is related to a significant loss of civility, an absence for decorum, and a rise in immature behaviors by adults. I see it everywhere, not just at work. Everyone wants to be the girl with the most cake.

A treatise I could offer, but it simply revolves around this idea: people raised in chaos become "difficult" adults. And by 'raised in chaos' I mean "not by mature parents" or not by parents at all but by committee (i.e. daycare).

Just my humble guess.

(And yes, at times, I admit that I am am The Complainer, the Whiner or the Sniper, sometimes all of them at once. But I hope this is not very often.)

Fritz said...

The wife tells her husband that she feels insecure, worries that he doesn't love her anymore. He tells her it is not true but they constantly fight about it. Who is being difficult?

Anonymous said...

The best way to deal with difficult people is by moderating comments!

vbspurs said...

Haha. In their illustration, "agreeable" looks like John Roberts and "aggressive" bears a faint resemblance to Nino. ;)

LOL! True.

Although when you click to enlarge, it shows you less of the pic, than what is shown (which is already cut-off to the bottom right, grrr).

Then there's the crazy people living below you.

In our case, since my parents and I live in a condo, it's the summer renters who come every year, 3 doors down (the owners are nice, but they rent their flat to the most AMAZINGLY rude groups of people).

We've had aristocratic junkies found in a stupour outside their door; a model who threw a party every night and walked to the lift to greet her guests -- naked; a man who bred Afghan dogs and the dogs threw themselves against the door, full-on, whenever he was gone (it sounded like the Blitz, with the shelling and mortars falling, dad said).

Oh! And one particularly nasty Frenchman, who used to pin poison pen notes anonymously, similar to the one shown in the site, Bill, taunting us about France having beaten England in the Euro Cup. I mean, he didn't think we'd know it was he...?

The wife tells her husband that she feels insecure, worries that he doesn't love her anymore.

They say that marriage entered for mutual love has 4 stages, which are not tied to years.

Honeymoon -- you love your partner's bad breath, and could forgive them anything.

Irritation -- you constantly bicker and carp about the other's minor habits.

Complacency -- you notice each other's faults and weaknesses, tempered with a knowledge of their strengths.

Grace -- you respect each other enough to compromise about the other's failings.

And apparently, divorce happens not in the Irritation phase, but in the Complacency phase, when you begin to think, this is the way I will spend the rest of my life.

Hmmm.

Anyway, I'm not a complainer or difficult and I hate those who are.

What I have with my loved ones, is a quick temper. Quick to anger (I throw a computer mouse on the walls), just as quick to forget.

But I don't wear rollers.

Cheers,
Victoria

Sloanasaurus said...

I always called these types grumpy people. They exist in every corporate and government management structure and detract from the nation's GDP. All you need is one of them to thwart a good idea. I remember hearing a speech by Michael Eisner where he discussed the impact of these people. He argued that if you have a great idea with a 90% chance of success in convincing your superior, by the time you get up the management chain, your chance of success is seriously diminished (i.e. 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% = 50%.

Of course more of these grumpy people exist in government structures, which is why government sucks at investing money and creating assets.

stoqboy said...

I read the article with the intention of determining which category I might fit into, in answer to you question. I've recently become a sniper at work because my boss is a know-it-all. I ask questions that force him to be specific, then I snipe at his bad assumptions or facts. Essentially I'm trying to make him look stupid. At home I have a tendency toward silent and unresponsive when my family members are being negative. I like to think I'm only difficult in response to other difficult personalities, but I suppose that would make me "superior" (a know-it-all according to the article).

Christy said...

I am the girl with all the cake. I don't see the problem. I just cast difficult people out of my light into the darkness. Don't you?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Well, listen, I'm sick of being in your shadow, lady. So why don't you stop shoving so much cake down your craw, eh?

michilines said...

pogo, you are Pavlovian in your response. Of course you have given talks, of course you prattle on about civility.

I am am am am am am am Althouse.

Just kidding. Or not?

Paco Wové said...

The Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper...

Sounds like the various categories of blog commenters.

kettle said...

Are there really difficult people out there?

Ignoring minor annoyances and being blunt about the rest has always worked really well for me. It's all about the way you present your opinions and point of view.

I thought this article was pretty silly.

kettle said...

@sloanasaurus
'He argued that if you have a great idea with a 90% chance of success in convincing your superior, by the time you get up the management chain, your chance of success is seriously diminished (i.e. 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% = 50%.'

I agree in theory, but the two things you mention have no direct connection, at least not according to your description. In the case of your 90% idea (we'll disregard for the moment the inherent difficulties in reaching such a hard percentage) your problem is not the difficult people, it is the number of gatekeepers or levels in the bureaucracy. I'd also add that it is highly unlikely that your probability of success is the same for every manager; rather it will probably differ substantially for each one.

Forty_Two said...

Self help books help their authors make money. Readers don't seem to be helped much.

Pogo said...

michilines said..."pogo, you are Pavlovian in your response."

I would estimate, by the sheer incomprehensibility of your post, that the blood alcohol content was 0.12 or higher.

That, or your internet connection deletes every third word.