Close Close
Popular Financial Topics Discover relevant content from across the suite of ALM legal publications From the Industry More content from ThinkAdvisor and select sponsors Investment Advisor Issue Gallery Read digital editions of Investment Advisor Magazine Tax Facts Get clear, current, and reliable answers to pressing tax questions
Luminaries Awards

Life Health > Running Your Business

How to cope with problem people (part 1)

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

Have you ever had “one of those days” in relation to an encounter with a difficult prospect, client or even staff member? You don’t have to grin and bear it with every prospect who shows up. You have the ability and perhaps the duty to tell some there is nothing you can do for them and show them the door. Here are some ideas on what to say (we’ll address other problem types next month).

The Bulldozer
These people are frequently seen as intimidating. Their goal is to get their own way at any cost. They are very focused on their obsession to win every point, even when they don’t know what they are talking about. They’ll store up facts and use them to twist others to do their bidding.

How to cope: One of the hardest things to do with Bulldozers is realize that the problem is not with you but with them. They build self-worth by aligning themselves higher than the person they are talking to. But it is important to not let them run over you.

  1. Show empathy and probe their points. It is easy to argue with them. But that would be defensive and only make them more combative as they try to save face.
  2. Ask them questions about their past problems with the subject. Ask if they have had bad experiences with brokers selling annuities. Try to isolate their comments to their experiences, avoiding their ability to generalize. If you’re able to draw them into a conversation, it may diffuse an outburst into a constructive discussion.
  3. Look them directly in the eye and respond assertively without emotion.

The Volcano
Human volcanoes erupt without provocation but seem most explosive under pressure. Like bulldozers, they are hostile-aggressive in nature but blow up out of control. Their mode of operation is to first blame a problem on someone else and then explode.

How to cope: As with Bulldozers, if you look the Volcano in the eye and show no weakness, you’ll be able to at least save yourself some grief. These people sometimes act like sharks going in for the kill if they smell weakness. This difficult behavior type may also be someone in your employ.

  1. Let them talk until they run down, much like a windup toy loses its energy.
  2. Tell them that you wish to hear what they’re upset about, but not in this way. On the telephone, say, “Hang on, I want to get a pen and paper to jot down some notes as you talk.”
  3. Get as many facts as possible about their concerns. Focus on the tangible details as a way to deflect the emotion. Try to avoid letting them tell you how they feel as this will feed a long-term rant.


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.