The Most Difficult Personality Styles – How to Deal with Difficult People

Following are the most difficult behavioral styles that we will have to be prepared to effectively deal with as communicators if we want to de-escalate aggression, prevent violence and develop a relationship.

Dr. John Byrnes uses these “tags” in Beyond Conflict, his seminal work on aggression management and Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner also provide tactics and strategies on dealing with them in their book Dealing with People You Can’t Stand – How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst.

We highly recommend reading both of these books to most effectively understand these styles and the different techniques each author recommends using in dealing effectively with them.

The Most Difficult behavioral Styles and Their Characteristics

Sherman Tank – The Tank – “Roll over you”

Sniper – Sniper – “Shoot and duck behind the tree”

Exploder – Grenade – Explode when least expected

Complainers – Whiners – The “Saturday Night Live” whining skit

The “No” Person – Drive you to despair

Clam – The “Nothing” Person – Silent and can be deadly

Bulldozer – “The They Know It All”

The “Yes” Person – Leaves a trail of commitments and broken promises

The “Maybe” Person – They put off decisions until it’s too late

The “Think-They-Know-It-All” Person – Really don’t know much at all

You can learn how to handle these types of people when I speak to the Bluegrass Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America on June 16th in Louisville, Ky. Get details and reservations at


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