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How to spot and handle different personality types

#HRLADYSHIP Travel Heather Gupta • May 25, 2017
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The word” managing”, according to the dictionary definition, is “having executive control or authority”. So if this authority exists, managing people should be a simple task, right?

Actually no. Whether we are in charge or not, managing other people is one of the most difficult things we all do, and one of the areas which needs the most focus and occasional intervention.

Here are 10 of the trickiest types of people to manage:

The Drama Queen

drama queen

This type of royalty (whether prince or princess) specializes in creating daily drama. Drama, and its closely associated bestie chaos, keep the Drama Queen in a perpetual adrenalin high, ensuring that their brain’s pleasure centre is constantly rewarded. Always the star in their own personal drama, the Drama Queen relies on hearsay, gossip and speculation to fuel the flames of a usually non existent fire. To manage this type of person, you’ll need avoid stoking that fire. Simply refuse to indulge the Drama Queen and they’ll soon find a new target.

The Energy Vampire

the energy vampire

The clue is in the name. Energy vampires have a tendency to drain the emotional energy out of everyone they come across. These energy bloodsuckers are harder to recognize than other types, as the energy drain can be insidious. If you find yourself feeling exhausted after conversations with one particular person then you may be dealing with an Energy Vampire. They feed off the energy of other people, without giving anything back, and eventually make you feel pretty worthless. Try to minimize your contact with people you find very draining or if you can’t do that, keep them focused on the task at hand.

The Blame Gamer

blame game

Blame gaming is incredibly destructive behaviour. Instead of finding ways to improve a situation, the blame gamer will persist in finding fault in others and magnifying any blunders until they become huge issues. They will also refuse to take any responsibility or recognise their own contribution to any situation, preferring to duck and weave, using a variety of tactics to re blame other people and divert attention. The way to handle these types is to keep asking questions until they are exposed, and the truth is uncovered.

The Control Freak

control freak

The control freak genuinely believes that he or she is taking over because “no one else can do it right”. Their controlling behaviour actually stems from a high level of personal anxiety, which they try to manage by controlling each and every detail, even if it isn’t strictly within the realms of their responsibility. The Control Freak can be an exhausting boss, constantly asking for updates and putting limiting checks and balances in place. Control freaks may also want to change the behaviour of others, rather than admit they are wrong. If you’re managing a control freak, start by recognizing their anxiety and stress levels and try to have an honest conversation about why they are trying to control everything.

The Victim


Similar to the Energy Vampire, this one will drain the life out of you. Someone who constantly portrays themselves as a victim, to elicit a sympathetic response, will require enormous reserves of energy to handle. Playing the victim is incredibly selfish behaviour, and pandering to it only feeds the problem. The way to deal with a someone with a victim mentality is simply to ignore their attempts to get you to respond. If you don’t stroke them, they’ll eventually stop.

The Mouse


Most offices, especially those in the media industry, are dominated by loud and often aggressive types. He who shouts the loudest is likely to get his way. The introverted Mouse stands out like a sore thumb in this scenario, which only adds to their woes. The mouse will be unlikely to be able to make much eye contact and will definitely need a softly softly approach to get them to even voice an opinion. Incidentially, the mouse is also likely to be the one who will drink the most at the office party. The transformation from introvert to drunken loudmouth can be shocking to witness.

The Narcissist

the narcissist

A narcissistic personality disorder is defined as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration”. These people, though relatively rare, genuinely believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. Most narcissists actually have a very fragile sense of self worth, and will explode at the slightest criticism. It’s pretty easy to spot a narcissist –they enjoy talking about their own achievements, and will show little interest in others. They’re also obsessed with status and you’ll hear them namedropping a lot. The narcissist will always blame someone else for their mistakes. If you’re working for a truly narcissistic (as opposed to just vain or opinionated) boss then be prepared for a rough ride.

The passive aggressive

the passive aggressive

Passive aggressive types express deeply hidden anger using clever words. On the surface, it appears that butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. Look closely at what they are saying and their true feelings are apparent. A passive aggressive colleague will generally avoid face to face confrontation, preferring instead to use notes or e mail to communicate, and proving very slippery to pin down. Trying to get them to admit to their mistakes or failings is generally like trying to pin jelly to the wall. Like the blame gamer, this one needs to be called out.

The people pleaser

the people pleaser

While it is admirable to be seen as a helpful colleague, people pleasers take things to the next level. If you’re choosing to keep people happy over making the right decision, then you’re unlikely to be of much use to anyone. People pleasers can also get very irritating – no-one likes a teacher’s pet, and that kind of sickly sweetness just gets under everyone’s skin. If you’re a people pleaser yourself, think about being a bit more assertive and occasionally saying “no”. If you’re managing a people pleaser, be a little tough and get them to focus on doing the right thing.

The bully


Every office has their fair share of bullies and dealing with them is never pleasant. Their antagonistic behaviour is pretty easy to spot, but it’s amazing how many organisations ignore them, particularly if they’re strong performers. If you’re working for a bully then stand up for yourself and report them to HR or senior management. If you spot bullying tendencies in someone you manage, nip it straight in the bud by telling them that the company won’t tolerate such behaviour.

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