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Let’s start with Volatile People. These are some of the easiest “difficult” people to deal with because it’s transitory, because you get to see them at their best at least some of the time, and because you know (in your heart) they feel bad when they act stupid. These are emotional people who react poorly to stress. When things are going well, they’re generally nice folks, but when the heat goes up, they sizzle.
“I know my boss,” says Kareen. “Most of the time she’s wonderful to work for. But put her in tight shoes, an itchy suit, and hot pantyhose on a day when it’s 98 out, run her from one end of the floor to the other, then add laptop problems, a pressure-call from her boss, maybe a fight with her husband that morning … and she’s an ogre. I just stay out of her face on those days. “
What you want to do is avoid them when they are in a bad mood. Like a kid with a moody mother, study them so you’ll recognize the signs.
People who become volatile may have depression, a basic lack of resilience, a sense of inadequacy, a physical illness, chronic pain (mental or physical) or any number of things.
For instance someone who has a chronic disease like osteo-arthritis is coping with intermittent pain that can be disabling. Some days the pain will be worse, and this will shorten their attention span, ability to cope, and temper.
Someone else may be coping with a teenager on drugs, a wife threatening divorce, a sick aged parent – or all of these things. This makes them irritable, distracted, and, like a boiling pot with a lid on it, ready to blow. But not every day, not all the time, and they don't enjoy it when it happens. They "know better."
These people you can soothe and "work with" (which we go into in the next chapter), but this can't be said about someone with Paranoid Personality Disorder. If you have a boss who's paranoid you have to walk a fine line, if you choose to stay ...
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