Coping With Difficult People by Robert M. Bramson, Phd

If you’re looking for a book to help you understand different types of difficult people, how they act, and why they act that way this is the book for you.  What I loved most about it was the focus on understanding the behavior and  the information on how to cope with people in your life who act this way.  This book does not focus on how to change other people’s behavior because that’s not possible.  The only thing we can change is our own actions and how we feel about a certain situation.  In this book, Bramson proposes we can accomplish this by learning coping behaviors. The main focus is on dealing with people in a work setting, but the methods are easily adaptable to personal life as well.

The book addresses 8 “types” of difficult people: Hostile-Aggressives, Complainers, Silent and Unresponsive people, Super-Agreeables, Negativists, Know-it-Alls, and Indecisive Stallers.  For each category of difficult person, Bramson discusses what the behavior looks like, why people do it (I love how he includes scientific information like reinforcement and not just emotional reasons)  and then explains step-by-step methods for coping using real life examples from his consulting career. The idea behind the coping methods is that they “interfere with the “successful” functioning of the difficult behavior.”

After going through the different “types” individually the author includes chapters that give a basic formula for developing an action plan that you can use when preparing to deal with a difficult person, information on different thinking styles and how they affect the behaviors of difficult people and the person trying to cope, and ways to manage the defensive behavior that will ultimately arise both in the difficult person and the person applying these coping methods.

What I found most valuable was the focus on coping.  The author stresses that a lot of times you are not going to end up with an ideal situation, but you will end up with one that alleviates a lot of the stress and mental anguish that goes along with not dealing with difficult people. He demonstrates through examples and explanations that since you can’t change a difficult person, you have the options of suffering or coping, and coping is just better for everyone involved.  I knew Bramson was hitting home and giving me applicable information when I started to see how my own actions in past situations actually fed into the difficult behavior and made it worse.  I was then able to think about what the outcome would have been if I had instead applied the coping methods detailed in this book.  I can say that I have confidence that with some practice my future interactions with difficult people will be much more successful and less stressful.

 

 

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