I saw a book this week titled “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand.” I immediately couldn’t stand the author.
I didn’t read the book, but I could tell by the title that it skirted the issue, particularly in our business. “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand” won’t cut it in our industry. It’s not strong enough. That’s why this Editorial is called “Dealing With People You Hate.”
Because of the nature of our business, we have to deal with people we hate every day. More often than not, the ones we hate the most are the ones we have to deal with the most. Maybe that’s why we hate them. I don’t necessarily mean that we hate the people. It’s that we hate to deal with the personalities of the people we encounter. We don’t have the time to develop relationships with many of those with whom we must do business. To truly hate someone, it is necessary to get to know them. However, hatred for particular attitudes, personalities or acts doesn’t take nearly so long.
So I guess this Editorial should be called “People Whose Attitudes, Personalities Or Acts We Hate.” But that would be too ambiguous and if that was the title, I would hate myself.
This Editorial identifies those we hate and gives you some pointers on how you can deal with them more effectively. I’ve divided the particulars into four broad categories. You might have more or less, but you aren’t writing the Editorial. Don’t you hate that? For me, these categories work. Hopefully, they will work for you. If not, you can hate me.
“Carson Confrontation.” Carson is the guy who approaches each conversation like a war. He doesn’t just want to argue his point, he also wants to argue yours. He wants not only to prove he’s right, he wants to prove you’re wrong…and ignorant to boot. Carson doesn’t speak, he screams. Carson believes volume will outweigh his lack of facts. Carson very seldom has facts. He picks a position that fits his mood and runs with it…usually over the person in front of him. Carson throws his arms, stands with his feet apart and moves into the space occupied by the person he’s confronting.
How do you get along with Carson? By confronting him. Do not run away from his bluster. If the facts are in your favor…argue them…loudly. Imitate his body language. Stand your ground. You might not win the battle, but you can win the war. Confrontationists expect to run over people. They developed their personality for a reason. They grudgingly respect someone who fights back. Also, the confrontationist likes to win every argument. If he knows you will argue back, he will choose another target. Just make sure you have your facts totally correct. If you’re wrong on one tiny thing, he will harp on it forever.
“Kristi Know-It-All.” Kristi has all the answers. You have none. She’s sure of it and will make you aware of it early in any discussion. Kristi will interrupt any explanation on your part and say, “I know that won’t work.” You can explain all you want, but it does no good. She’s quick to point out all of her experience, her education and her intelligence in killing your ideas with a broad stroke, never getting around to specifics. You can’t argue with her because she’s unwilling to listen. She’s the program director who tells you a record won’t work on her radio station. Period. If you’re foolish enough to ask why, she’ll tell you it’s because she knows how to program her radio station and you know nothing about it.
How do you crack this nut? By carefully doing your homework. Find out what Kristi wants and provide accurate information that will lead her to her own conclusions. Deal with her by letters and memos. Kristi read more than the average person. This is one of the reasons she thinks she knows it all. She hates confrontation. Outline, in writing, how your proposal will lead her to the decision she wants to make. Then she’ll believe you’re almost as well-read and intelligent as her. This is a double-edged sword, for she might make you a compatriot. Then you’ll have to sit through long discussions while she tries to prove how smart she is.
“Annette Agreeable.” Annette agrees with almost everything anyone says. Annette doesn’t often offer an opinion of her own. Annette hasn’t heard a record she doesn’t like. Ask her about one of yours and she’ll probably answer in the positive. She’s quick to let you pay for dinner or trips or anything else. She hugs you when you meet because you’re one of her close friends. She’s the epitome of the phrase, “It looks good for next week.” It’s easy for Annette to forget about your record or your request as soon as you’ve left her because it’s a pretty good bet that Annette hasn’t listened to a word you said. Annette also has another person to see right after you. It’s impossible to pressure Annette into a decision on the spot. You wind up feeling so positive about your proposition that you’re astounded when what you’ve proposed doesn’t happen. If you confront her on your confusion, she’ll probably just smile and, “We’ll take care of it next time.”
Annette is a tough one. Your best bet is to schedule your meeting or call with her as close to her decision time as possible. If you’re the last one giving her advice, she’s more apt to remember a little of what you said. If you’re trying to get a record played, call her often and at the last minute. If you get her just before she does the list, you’ve got a shot.
“Andy Avoid-And-Deny.” Andy is the worst. He’s quick to pick up on something you supposedly said or did and hold it against you. For no reason that you know of, Andy will refuse your calls. He will put you off forever and then when you finally get the opportunity to talk, he will deny that anything was ever wrong. He has every excuse for not taking your calls, none of which are the real reason. When you see him, he’ll act like one of your closest friends…the not take your calls again for days or weeks at a time.
How do you deal with him? You don’t. He has a small group of support people who feel the same way. They would rather talk among themselves and criticize others rather than work productively. Get someone else to pitch your case. It’s the only way. And when he finally comes around…suck up.
Then go home and hate yourself. It’s part of your job!