As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, many clients seek my help handling difficult relationships. Although the old saying "it takes two to tango" is almost always true, often I am convinced that my client is not the one with the enduring problem . Instead, he or she is having a tough time dealing with a more difficult personality . Whether it be a spouse, friend, coworker, or boss, it is clear that there are some folks who are just hard to navigate. Often these individuals have what is clinically called a personality disorder. Personality disorders are marked by a longstanding pattern of beliefs and behaviors that are inflexible, maladaptive, and cause distress to the affected individual and those around him or her.

    We all have our ways of dealing with conflict in our relationships. However, in a workplace setting, these methods often fail us. We cannot simply avoid a hostile boss. It would be inappropriate to motivate an unproductive employee with an ice cream cone. When confronted with personality quirks in the office, we need to maintain composure and act according to best practices. In a difficult dyad, it is very helpful to first define what kind of individual you are dealing with, then tailor your response to his or her limitations. Below are some common forms of personality disorders and suggestions for how to handle them.

    Narcissistic personality disorder. The term "narcissistic" is often thrown around in casual conversation. Most of us can have some narcissistic traits, but an individual with this type of personality disorder continually seeks fame, fortune, and power. They view themselves as special, and believe they deserve to socialize with other special people. They need excessive admiration and will exploit others to achieve their own goals. When confronted with a narcissist, it is helpful to recognize that although he or she appears arrogant and impervious to criticism, underneath there is a very fragile sense of self, fear of failure, anxiety, and shame. It is therefore important to constantly acknowledge any positive contributions. Whether it is a boss or a coworker, publicly and personally commend them whenever possible. When giving negative feedback, make sure you couch criticism in a "complement sandwich." In other words, try to identify and state something positive that the individual has accomplished before and after you discuss what needs improvement.

    Dependent Personality Disorder. Those suffering from this type of disorder tend to be overly clingy, need others to assume responsibility for major areas of living, and are fearful of being alone. They have a tough time making decisions, are reluctant to disagree with others, and engage in activities to receive approval and support, even when they are unpleasant. Those with dependent personalities are rarely in leadership roles, but are rather stuck in junior positions despite having certain strengths. If you are managing someone with dependent personality disorder, your job is to make he or she feel empowered. Start by introducing responsibilities just beyond their comfort zone. Acknowledge their success, or gently give one on one constructive feedback. Once your employee has had some successes, set firm boundaries. Clearly articulate expectations and your confidence in them to handle whatever emerges. Maintain a once weekly meeting or email conversation where they can consult or trouble shoot with you, but encourage independence in the interim.

    Histrionic Personality Disorder. These are individuals who need to be the center of attention, are flirtatious and seductive, and use their physical appearance to gain popularity. He or she is highly suggestible, and frequently blurs the boundaries between personal and professional relationships. The most important rule in dealing with a histrionic employee is to set firm boundaries. Clearly state that certain behaviors and dress are not appropriate for the workplace, and professionalism is required for any member of your company to succeed. Do not respond to the flirtations, no matter how alluring or seductive. Be very specific and unemotional with requests and feedback. Calmly but firmly resist any gesture to extend the relationship beyond the workplace.

    Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. This is a very different syndrome than obsessive compulsive disorder, in which individuals engage in repetitive thoughts and behaviors to eliminate an underlying anxious condition. Those with obsessive compulsive personality disorder are overly preoccupied with rules, orderliness, neatness, and a need for perfection. They are controlling, intolerant, and inflexible. Their intense rigidity leads to preoccupation with lists, details, and rules, making them inefficient and indecisive. Encourage these individuals that they do not need to be perfect in order to be successful. Reiterate that "perfection is often the enemy of the good," and that it is more realistic to learn from experience than to foresee the ideal solution. Since these individuals are commonly overly committed to work at the expense of leisure activity and relationships, encourage them to take vacations and breaks to avoid burnout and preserve their skills.

    Thankfully, most people we work with do not have full blown personality disorders, although inevitably there are a few. By targeting your coping strategies to the particular individual, you will be in a much better position to manage up or down, and succeed regardless of the difficult patterns in the relationship.

    What is the most difficult personality disorder?
    Why Borderline Personality Disorder is Considered the Most “Difficult” to Treat. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is defined by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. more
    How do you say no to a difficult person?
    10 different ways to say no
    1. Sadly, I have something else going on.
    2. I have another commitment.
    3. I wish I were able to.
    4. I'm afraid I can't.
    5. I don't have the bandwidth for that right now.
    6. I'm honored you asked me, but I simply can't.
    7. Thanks for thinking of me.
    8. I'm sorry, I'm not able to fit this in.
    more
    What is the most difficult personality disorder to treat?
    Cluster B personality disorders include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. These tend to be the least common disorders but are often the most challenging to treat. more
    How do you handle a difficult person?
    Here's 9 tips which I've found to work in dealing with such people:
    1. Be calm.
    2. Understand the person's intentions.
    3. Get some perspective from others.
    4. Let the person know where you are coming from.
    5. Build a rapport.
    6. Treat the person with respect.
    7. Focus on what can be actioned upon.
    8. Ignore.
    more
    What makes someone a difficult person?
    A difficult person is someone who often lacks empathy, compassion, or concern for others. You could simply say they're calloused. Difficult people tend to feel they are better than everyone else. This type of person seems unapproachable when you're looking to shake their hand. more
    How do you identify a difficult person?
    A difficult person is someone who often lacks empathy, compassion, or concern for others. You could simply say they're calloused. Difficult people tend to feel they are better than everyone else. This type of person seems unapproachable when you're looking to shake their hand. more
    How do you work with a difficult person?
    Follow these seven strategies for a comprehensive approach to dealing with those difficult colleagues.
    1. Don't Take It Personally. As difficult as it is, don't take your coworker's actions personally.
    2. Develop Rapport.
    3. Stand Up for Yourself.
    4. Practice Empathy.
    5. Practice Self-regulation.
    6. Hone Your Self-awareness.
    7. Get Support.
    more
    How do you work with difficult person interview question?
    How to answer "Tell me about a time you worked with difficult people"
    • Consider an instance in which you experienced a specific challenge with a coworker.
    • Speak objectively while explaining the premise of the situation.
    • Reflect on the experience and take ownership of your own actions.
    more
    How would you work with a difficult person?
    Follow these seven strategies for a comprehensive approach to dealing with those difficult colleagues.
    1. Don't Take It Personally. As difficult as it is, don't take your coworker's actions personally.
    2. Develop Rapport.
    3. Stand Up for Yourself.
    4. Practice Empathy.
    5. Practice Self-regulation.
    6. Hone Your Self-awareness.
    7. Get Support.
    more
    How do you work with difficult person?
    Follow these seven strategies for a comprehensive approach to dealing with those difficult colleagues.
    1. Don't Take It Personally. As difficult as it is, don't take your coworker's actions personally.
    2. Develop Rapport.
    3. Stand Up for Yourself.
    4. Practice Empathy.
    5. Practice Self-regulation.
    6. Hone Your Self-awareness.
    7. Get Support.
    more
    How would you handle working with a difficult person?
    Seven Strategies to Effectively Deal with Difficult People at
    1. Don't Take It Personally. As difficult as it is, don't take your coworker's actions personally.
    2. Develop Rapport.
    3. Stand Up for Yourself.
    4. Practice Empathy.
    5. Practice Self-regulation.
    6. Hone Your Self-awareness.
    7. Get Support.
    more

    Source: www.inc.com

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