Spot a Whiner
Whiners remind you of holding children’s hands as you walk them across a street. They want you to help guide them through life’s challenges. Whiners complain to connect with others. They seek reassurance, guidance, and direction. Whiners complain to reach out and get empathy or validation from others in their community. They need constancy, support, and security.
Are You Negotiating with a Whiner?
Whiners complain to form relationships and receive empathy. They vent, withdraw, and want others to solve their problems. Whiners: complain about how things aren’t fair. play the victim and are powerless. always seem to have something wrong in their lives. are always upset about something or someone. never bring solutions, only problems.
Actions that Don’t Work with Whiners:
Giving reasons their reaction is irrational or unproductive. Whiners are not concerned with rational outcomes or the inconsistency of their actions. They want empathy, not logic.
Forcing them into problem solving before they vent. Whiners have to release their emotions and feel heard before they are open to solutions or a proactive approach. Trying to make Whiners feel better by complimenting them won’t help, nor will telling them to “grow up.”
Venting along with them or solving their problem. Whining with them just encourages more complaining. When you provide an opinion or offer solutions, they usually reject your advice or make excuses. On the rare occasion they accept and act on your suggestion, they will blame you if the result is bad. And, if the advice works, you now become their crutch for making their future decisions.
The best way to negotiate with Whiners is to listen, empathize, and ask for solutions.
Listen. Whiners are trying to connect and build relationships through their complaining. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Spending a few minutes actively listening and even mirroring back what you hear from Whiners goes a long way with these relational Complainers. Note a “few” is less than 5 minutes . . . you’re not their counselor.
Empathize. Simple sentences such as, “That has got to be tough,” “Wow, I’m glad I don’t have that problem,” or “I don’t know how you do it,” are sufficient. Also, it may be all the empathy Whiners need. You may hear a Whiner respond, “It really isn’t that bad,” “Thanks for listening,” or “Sorry. I just needed to vent.”
Ask for solutions. Ask Whiners for solutions and repeat as needed. Remember, chronic Whiners know that whining gets results. They may need several exposures to “Wow. What are you going to do about that?” before taking the hint that you aren’t the best place to deposit their problems.
Spot a Complicator
Negotiating with Complicators reminds you of slowing down to climb a steep upgrade. Complicators are impeding, obstructing, criticizing fault-finders who delay and hamper others. They complain to maintain their sense of stability and control. Complicators are passive-aggressive in their approach. They feel comfortable with a lot of information and details. To maintain their version of order, Complicators create systems, procedures, and processes that aren’t easy to navigate. Complicators are masters of minutiae.
Are You Negotiating with a Complicator?
Complicators complain to avoid change and maintain stability. They frustrate, complicate, and create confusion. Complicators: delay and put up roadblocks if something new is offered. nitpick and criticize others’ work. bring up past failures and mistakes. protect systems and information. use knowledge and details to confuse and complicate matters.
Actions that Don’t Work with Complicators:
Telling them to be team players. Relationship appeals or directives aren’t the best approach for people with logical sensibilities. Avoiding them or excluding them from team meetings will backfire. They complicate and criticize solutions created in their absence and become more protective of information and systems.
Trying to change their minds. Complicators spend a significant amount of time preparing their position. They are stubborn and defensive when you attempt to change their stance or thinking.
Asking them to adopt a more positive attitude. Encouraging Complicators to be more supportive of others and their ideas isn’t a good strategy. Complicators are concerned more with being right and having correct systems than improving relationships and maintaining a positive image.
The best way to negotiate with Complicators is to reduce speed, respect effort, and upgrade.
Reduce speed. Slow down. Complicators need time to reflect and notice the impending change. Leaving them out of conversations will slow you down later. With their skeptical style, prepare for questions, resistance, diversion, and debate. Be prepared to over-communicate with them and provide sufficient details and support.
Respect effort. Complicators are afraid of change or not having adequate knowledge. Complicators fear someone will discover they don’t know as much as they portray. Find a way to acknowledge the intellect that went into Complicators’ systems, methods, thought processes, or designs. Complicators need to be correct and want to be appreciated for the accuracy of the specific tasks they complete.
Upgrade. To reduce Complicators’ defensiveness, present changes or new information as a logical addition, next step, or revision. Ask Complicators to help you fine-tune, implement, and integrate the “upgrade” to make it a seamless piece of their existing processes or plans. Seeing a change as an add-on or revision is less frightening than seeing it as something new.
Spot a Prima Donna
Negotiating with Prima Donnas reminds you of approaching a curvy road where you must pay attention or risk crashing. Prima Donnas use complaints as a means to obtain visible recognition for themselves. They use an aggressive approach to satisfy their need to be admired and liked by many. Prima Donnas feel comfortable in the spotlight and often seek it to the exclusion of others. They are articulate and at ease in front of groups. Prima Donnas know how to build coalitions to promote their position, and they complain to “voice” or represent what they claim is the group’s position.
Are You Negotiating with a Prima Donna?
Prima Donnas complain to seek attention. They gossip, create drama, and stir up trouble. Prima Donnas:
always strive for the spotlight, even to the exclusion of others. are quick to take credit, even for others’ work. act superior and take no blame for mistakes. are really expressive and dramatic in their demeanor. spread gossip or negative information about others.
Actions that Don’t Work with Prima Donnas:
Describing why their reaction is too extreme and excessive. Prima Donnas are more concerned with being heard than being discreet and calm. They don’t want to tone down their response. Quite the opposite, they want attention and a platform.
Putting them on the spot. Prima Donnas seek the spotlight, but they don’t want to be on the spot, answering detailed questions. They have difficulty giving logical accounts and will deflect, leave, or shut down entirely in response to aggressive behavior or questioning from others.
Asking them to be rational. Asking Prima Donnas to follow the existing systems or to validate their opinions before acting or voicing disapproval doesn’t work. Logical reasoning isn’t the best approach with this relationship-driven personality type.
The best way to negotiate with Prima Donnas is to remember to acknowledge, avoid getting lost in the drama, and publicize.
Acknowledge. Let them know that you observe their behavior. Describe the personal and business consequences that may result from their current actions.
Avoid getting lost in the drama. Don’t play their games or get caught up in the madness. Prima Donnas are in their element when they are stirring up trouble. They are comfortable with a world that revolves around them and their opinions. Stay grounded. Insist on a problem-solving approach and have them take responsibility.
Publicize. Make others aware of the Prima Donna’s new role or intended outcomes. Publicizing can be embarrassing if Prima Donnas don’t do as they promised.
Spot a Controller
Negotiating with Controllers reminds you of yielding to a big truck coming off of a freeway ramp. Like the truck, a Controller won’t stop and will run right over you if you’re not careful. Controllers are aggressive, condescending, superior, challenging, impatient, intimidating, and demeaning. They are articulate, think well on their feet, and may use profanity or threatening words. Controllers are arrogant. They feel comfortable voicing frustration or “leading the attack” on you if you aren’t accomplishing their desired outcome. They complain aggressively to accomplish results.
Are You Negotiating with a Controller?
A Controller uses aggressive complaining in an attempt to reach an outcome, control situations, and control people. Controllers: bulldoze, bully, or intimidate others. want to be in charge, even if not the leader. are avoided by others for fear of confrontation. interrogate and use questions to show dominance. enjoy making others squirm and feel uncomfortable.
Actions that Don’t Work with Controllers:
Making multiple excuses or finger pointing. Controllers think people have the power to make things happen. If you avoid responsibility or don’t admit to your mistakes, it aggravates a Controller.
Giving a detailed account of what went wrong. Controllers don’t want an exhaustive explanation of how the problem occurred. Controllers want a short understanding of the issue followed by a proposed solution, or preferably, two or three solutions that they can choose from and then direct the action.
Engaging in an aggressive counter defense. Don’t try to match Controllers in voice or body demeanor. Most Controllers are comfortable in verbal combat. They welcome the opportunity to engage and will probably win.
The best way to negotiate with Controllers is to stand, deliver, and let them decide.
Stand. Because of their confrontational style, your first impulse may be to avoid or hide from Controllers. Don’t. Be ready to stand your ground. Be assertive and confident but not aggressive when you respond.
Deliver. Deliver solutions. Let Controllers know that you hear the problems or challenges and that a plan is in place to fix the situation.
Let them decide. Give Controllers the opportunity to make a decision from a short selection of options acceptable to you.
Spot a Toxic
When you’re negotiating with a Toxic personality, it is like being too close to an electric fence or poisonous material: it can be hazardous to your health. Toxic behavior is attributed to those self-absorbed people who concentrate on preserving or furthering their self-interests. They use complaining to control their environment and support their own interests. They blend into society and adapt to different social situations. Toxics like pulling strings, creating confusion, and then using the disorder or misperception to further their agendas. Toxics use this misrepresentation to deceive others. They are comfortable in chaos and often create turmoil. Toxics don’t think of others unless it is how to use them to get ahead.
Are You Negotiating with a Toxic?
Toxics are dangerous individuals who complain and use misinformation to manipulate and poison the environment to further their self-absorbed agendas. Toxics: are deceitful, deceptive, and charming. twist information and present it in a fraudulent manner. manipulate and enjoy turmoil, drama, and chaos. exploit and corrupt work teams. are passive-aggressive and have no empathy for others.
Actions that Don’t Work with Toxics:
Describing why their reaction is unproductive or causing problems with coworkers. Toxics care about one thing: themselves. They don’t care what other people think or the trouble they cause others. Toxics think only about another’s opinion when that person can improve their status or diminish a threat to them.
Questioning or coaching them so that they can understand the fault in their approach. Toxics don’t find fault in their actions. Most have strategized the best tactics to move them ahead. They won’t own a problem.
Appealing to their ethics or sense of doing right. Toxics aren’t troubled by society’s moral values when they choose their actions. Their lack of concern for others enables them to act and achieve results, often without conscience or regret.
The best way to negotiate with Toxics is to protect yourself, watch, and steer clear.
Protect yourself. Recognize that you aren’t crazy. Remind yourself that you are a rational person who makes good decisions and has been able to get along with coworkers, bosses, and everyone else until you met this Toxic person. Set up an appointment with a counselor or executive coach. You need an expert to validate your feelings, alleviate concerns about your sanity, and offer specific suggestions about how to handle the Toxic situation.
Watch. Watch how others interact with the Toxic person and who gets successful results. You may need to go to human resources (HR) and/or create your own file to document the Toxic’s behavior. Keep these notes at home. Determine whom in your circle of confidants you can trust in discussing this situation or use a professional, such as an attorney, an HR professional, or an executive coach.
Steer clear. Use stealth when determining your options and best course of action. If Toxics think that you are plotting against them, they may attempt to retaliate and harm your professional reputation. Keep in mind that Toxics are masters of deception. Their drive can make them look like superstars to an organization’s leadership.