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You know these people from the office: the dominating Tank, the undermining Sniper, the explosive Grenade and the smarmy Know-It-All. For your sake, here's hoping you only have one or two of them running around your cubicle farm. Unfortunately, the work world is fraught with complainers, cheats, toadies and downers. To avoid becoming a downer yourself, you need coping strategies. Authors Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner describe 10 difficult, if slightly contrived, personalities and provide communications techniques for dealing with them. This is not a textbook, being slim on attributions and facts. It is, rather, a feel-good handbook of simple suggestions for using tactics and popular psychology to deal with someone you'd actually rather strangle. Given that choice, conversation is a better strategy. We hope it works for you, and suggests this light but well-intentioned book to human resources professionals, managers with problem employees and you, if you're feeling particularly homicidal about that knuckle-cracking, gum-popping slacker in the next cubby.
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on September 18, 2005
If there are, and there always are, people that you can't stand, they are going to leap out of the pages of this book. There is always that ONE boss that really got under your skin, the is always ONE family member that sends you running for your room when they arrive, there is always that ONE friend that really shouldn't be called that, there is always that ONE sales check out clerk that makes a purchase nearly unbearable. This book goes a long way to make you recognize and name these people, but, just a little too short on how to deal with these people. It is more comic reading, than heavy psychological reading. Don't expect to suddenly love the people you can't stand, or even develop adequate skills in dealing with them, but you will realize that it is OK to feel the way you do about them. Anybody would.
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on November 20, 2006
This is an excellent, well-written, humorous and very practical book on dealing with difficult personalities. It is a quick read, but it is packed with useful information for dealing with different personality types at their worst.

In this book, the authors identify ten basic personalities that fall at different points between two dimensions: aggression-passivity and whether they are primarily task-oriented or people-oriented. It is a very simple model, but it is powerful and works well in a business environment.

There are many good stories, cartoons and boxes with summaries of how to handle various types of people in difficult situations. I have field-tested the ideas and they are sound and work well in practice.

Having insight into your own style is also worth being aware of. You will no doubt see yourself in these pages and more than likely will laugh out loud. More importantly, you will also raise your awareness so that you will have more choice in difficult situations.

This book should be on all managers shelves. It is a useful tool for deciphering the behavior of people much different from yourself.
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on May 23, 2006
There are so many nut cases out there that we have to deal with;

This book describes EXACTLY what kind of person he or she is,

and their motives (equally important), and explains how to get them to listen to you. Although it pictures office situations, they

work for ANYONE (mothers-in-law, children,family members, etc.)

This book is treasure!
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on November 22, 2005
This book provides lots of useful advice for corporate communication that can be applied to personal lives as well. In particular, The Lens of Understanding is a highly valuable way to figure out people's motivations.

Instead of getting annoyed or perplexed by seemingly illogical behaviors, the authors suggest that we try to appreciate the intent of the irritating person: Are they seeking approval, attention, control, or perfection? I have found this system to be quite useful in everyday interactions.

The style of "Dealing With People You Can't Stand" is highly readable. Although the table of contents is illustrated and detailed, an index would have made the book even more accessible for researching and re-reading.

Leslie Halpern, author of Reel Romance: The Lovers' Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies and Dreams on Film: The Cinematic Struggle Between Art and Science.
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VINE VOICEon April 8, 2005
I saw an opportunity to apply a technique from this book on my 16 yr old for an event that was potentially a daily problem. It immediately worked and I have not had that problem with him since. Most of the interpersonal problems I see at home or in the work place are really kind of petty and involve
1) Misunderstanding the other person's motives
2) No effective plan to clear the air
The two Ricks offer us simple ways to address the issue. In the process, one gains insight into what the other person was thinking and how the affair got out of hand. In every case, the techniques involve confrontation, but controlled, minimally threatening, and supportive to the behavior-impaired party.

The secret to handling difficult people, as pointed out in the book, is a modification in your response to their behavior, i.e., the initial change has to be yours! In some cases, they can be totally disarmed quite easily by the right words.

Some of the "caricatured" examples in the Ricks' book are sick and would just require too much maintenance and/or a referral to a psychiatrist. Real crazies are not going to give up whatever wierd secondary gains they're getting from their idiotic methods. Even those, however, would be at least temporarily susceptible to the empathetic & helpful confrontational yet supportive techniques this book offers.

Since everyone usually possesses at least a few of these 10 difficult personality characteristics to some degree, it's hard not to see yourself in this book. This was appropriately humbling for me and I am finding myself to be more tolerant of others. What more can you ask of a self-help book?
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on November 27, 2011
This book uses a model of human behaviour to understand difficult people. I find it falls down because this model is lacking.

The authors describe 10 archetypes (Tank, Sniper, Grenade, Yes Person, No person, Maybe Person, Nothing Person, Whiner, Know-It-All, and Think They Know-It-All). They go on to describe how to identify these archetypes, why they are the way they are, and what you can do to change this behaviour. There is also advice on what to do when somebody perceives you as one of these archetypes. The last sections of the book (haven't read this yet) focus on improving communication skills.

The model characterizes these archetypes in terms of two parameters - weather the person is passive or agressive, and if they are task or people oriented. This creates 4 quadrants where people have a desire to be productive(passive & task oriented), acheive perfection (agressive & task oriented), get along with others (passive & people oriented), and gets attention from others (agressive & people oreiented).

Problems with this model and associated archetypes are:
1) It makes the assumption that bad behaviour stems from good (albeit extreme) intentions. I have had plenty of experience with bad behaviour from people with less altruistic goals (possible additions: the Politician & the Rattlesnake).
2) Many difficult people don't fit nicely into any of these 10 categories. I find that there are some people with extrememly agressive or passive personalities that don't fit well in a quadrant, that should have their own category (possible additions: the Sloth, and the Policeman)
3) Some people are so far gone that they may exhibit many of these negative behaviours simultaneously. I knew someone that satisfied 4 different categories at the same time - some in diametrically opposed quadrants.

In short, the advice may work as written 65% of the time.
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on June 15, 2010
I bought this book and enjoyed reading it very much. The information is well put and easy to grasp. The tips on dealing with people seem to work.

The problem that I have with this book is that it is almost a copy of a book written in 1981, thirteen years before this one was, by Dr. Robert M. Bramson. There is extra material and information in this latter book, but the similarities are so great that they are impossible to overlook. The personalities of the people are labeled similarly at times -- the Sniper, for example -- and sometimes differently -- Tanks vs Shermans -- but the bottom lines with dealing with them are very often the same. The Complainer from Bramson and the Whiner from this book are also the same, and the coping techniques are very similar to the dealing techniques.

I have the 1994 edition of this book, and nowhere is Bramson listed. If one is to search Google books, Bramson is listed in this book in the 2002 edition, though, on page XVII, in a list of about six or seven people who were added in the acknowledgments page that shows up in the 1994 edition on page XV, sans Bramson. It is as if someone either said something to them, or they thought after the fact to add Dr. Bramson's name.

Both Brinkman and Kirschner have doctorates, and this means that they wrote dozens and dozens of papers during the gross amount of years that they attended school. This means that they have vast experience with citation, references, and avoiding plagiarism. To think that they would initially omit such a deep source for this book after having such experience writing papers with Chicago, APA, and MLA format is simply not acceptable. It is even more offensive when one considers how very similar these two works are.
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on June 24, 2012
This book is ok to find out how people around us might react when under pressure. The authors assume that people are basically great to be with except under stressful situations; they then become intolerable and difficult. If the people around you have chronically unacceptable behavior, however; this book will do little to help you handle or to find out what their problem is. Are they mentally ill? If so, what illness do they have and what techniques can I use to survive their behavior? What special words or phrases can I use to deal with such people?
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on November 12, 2004
...and any book that can do that is worth something. The authors have focused their descriptions on the most common problem behaviors. The most striking thing you will see in the book is your own behavior. You will recognize a bit of yourself in this book. Problem people will be less evil to you and appear more human as you understand what is motivating the behavior. Seeing them as basically good is a wonderful way to deal with people. Read this book and see problem people for who they are and the ally they can become.
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