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How to Overcome Problem People

Friday, February 21, 2014

Almost every office seems to have at least one person whose bad behavior affects everyone else. Human resources executive Victoria Humphrey explains how handle difficult people in Clueless Emperors: How to Overcome Problem People and Not Be One Yourself

Guests:

Victoria Humphrey

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Comments [28]

ERB from Oregon

Wow! What a frustrating waste of time listening to this episode was. It ought to be retitled, "How to Promote Your Book on Public Radio Without Saying Anything Substantive." Your guest said almost nothing that anyone could take away and act upon (other than, of course, the instructions to get her book). I might have been interested in looking at her book if she had actually volunteered some useful information on the air, but I'm so put off by her on-air approach that now I won't.

Feb. 21 2014 10:35 PM
MJ from Huntington

I find this discussion very helpful and will purchase the book. When confronted with a difficult individual, I realize that my posture, attitude, tone of voice, tilt of shoulder, choice of language, etc are important to re-establish the equilibrium in the relationship, and I am working on these skills. What is hard to do is to suppress the emotional reaction to a verbal attack, so I can take control of the situation and utilize these skills.

Feb. 21 2014 01:22 PM
RubyNYC from Harlem

At the risk of being rude, I couldn't stand this Guest. Office etiquette is now the easy-way-out of class warfare in America. In 1 NYC office, we come face-to-face with power relations of all kinds. Asking us to mind our Ps & Qs is just a cheesy attempt to ignore that complexity. And buzz phrases like "bullies" who "roll their eyes" and "talk too loud" smacks of racism!

Feb. 21 2014 01:12 PM
Renee from Montclair, N.J.

Many of your guests have books to sell; I'm yet to hear one advising callers to read her book more!!! Secondly, callers were made to feel that every situation was of their making. According to this belief system - there are no bullies - you had it coming, there are no bad bosses - you did something wrong; and it goes on and on. There are indeed bullies, bad bosses, and difficult people. I'm not reading this book; sounds a little passive aggressive to me.

Feb. 21 2014 01:05 PM
Workplace Harassment in CT from CT

When harassed and bullied at work, do NOT bully back: Because the original bully may be or is likely to be tight in with the boss and upper management, otherwise they would not behave that way in the first place at work and KNOW THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH BULLYING another employee. If you "bully back" they will ONLY NOTE YOUR BAD BEHAVIOR, and then you will be Reprimanded with a long list of improper bullying behavior, witnessed by others, that you will NOT BE ABLE TO DEFEND. It will only make your situation much worse. You could/Will be the one who ends up being fired for bullying. Be Smarter Than That.

Feb. 21 2014 12:52 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Life is a power struggle, which is why robots should take over ASAP. They are not struggling for recognition, survival, status, or money. All they need is electricity. Welcome our robot masters and bow before them!

Feb. 21 2014 12:49 PM
MC from Manhattan

Start recording your interactions then listen to them and see if there is any "there " there

Feb. 21 2014 12:47 PM
xtiansimon from Glen Cove, NY

Interesting article:

How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management
by David A. Garvin
http://hbr.org/2013/12/how-google-sold-its-engineers-on-management/ar/1?referral=00134

"A few years into the company’s life, founders ... actually wondered whether Google needed any managers at all. In 2002 they experimented with a completely flat organization... That experiment lasted only a few months..."

Feb. 21 2014 12:46 PM
tom from astoria

I have a lot of experience with tyrannical people - but in personal matters, not business, and at some point they are so deeply stuck into their own selfishness and their world view that there is no arguing nor convincing -- "Where ignorance is bliss, tis fallow to be wise" One can only walk away.

Feb. 21 2014 12:45 PM
Ana from NJ

How to handle when your boss bullies certain people, always snaps and gets upset at the same workers regardless of how good or bad they are. He also never treats some people bad no matter what they do.

Feb. 21 2014 12:44 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Hmm...maybe I could adapt "Talking louder doesn't make you right" (from my Moderate Manifesto) to a nonpolitical situation. How about "You know, I don't think raising your voice will help resolve this issue"? Maybe even "our voices," to try to make it more diplomatic.

Feb. 21 2014 12:40 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I once worked at a company whose owner wanted to do nice things for his employees...except he decided what would be nice for us. He'd come up w/something that didn't mean anything to us, announced this wonderful thing in a meeting, & we'd just look at each other. Then he'd wonder why we didn't appreciate it. He never asked us what *we'd* like. Well-meaning, but still clueless.

Feb. 21 2014 12:36 PM
Can;t use my name

Love your show Leonard.

I live in a town full of very type A personalities. A woman has moved into town and now is on our township committee. She is very political and has pushed, shoved and lied her way. This disturbs me but I enjoy my volunteer position on some commissions in town. Should I leave? She has named me by name as someone she "can not work with".

Feb. 21 2014 12:35 PM
Tom from New York

OK there is a "Clueless Emperor" in charge...but how do you help that Emperor change (or move elsewhere) without undermining one's own career? Surely a Clueless Emperor would not like to be told that he or she has no clothes.

Feb. 21 2014 12:33 PM
Mary from East Village

What about tyrannical family members? My sister in law has a very forceful personality, and when the family (12 adults, 3 kids) convenes at the beach each summer, she takes control over the thermostat and the ice machine (she's a fervent environmentalist). She's also a vegetarian, which results in everyone cooking vegetarian meals in deference to her. As someone who has married into this family, I'm not sure how to navigate this situation, and at times it has resulted in tension between my husband and me. Any suggestions?

Feb. 21 2014 12:29 PM
Amanda from Brooklyn

I'm curious as to what Victoria has to say about the power dynamic at play between servers in restaurants and their "problem" customers -- the more-common-than-you'd-think kind who make unreasonable demands, berate the server, withhold payment, etc. A restaurant customer has a uniquely direct power over the server's wage and the entire interaction is temporary (though, as a server, I can tell you it can be incredibly, unbearably stressful to be raked over the coals because someone doesn't like their fish). Why do so many people think that abusing their server is acceptable? And what strategies would she recommend to the servers? (Other than screaming and breaking things in the kitchen or drinking overmuch-- probably the most common server strategies?)

Feb. 21 2014 12:27 PM
Joe B from Seattle

Doubt I will buy this book. HR person who no doubt has made a life of kissing the ass of clueless emperors. . what bs

Feb. 21 2014 12:25 PM
Robin

How much of this is blaming the victim?

Feb. 21 2014 12:25 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Our species, like most other higher mammalian species, is political. All human relationships are political. That is, there is always going to be a power struggle at one level or another. In family political struggles, children are often the pawns and victims when divorce becomes the solution. Life is a Kampf, a struggle for power and survival.

Feb. 21 2014 12:23 PM
Sandy from New York

How do you handle these situations as they occur over electronic communication? For example, someone I know often sends bullying and aggressive emails. How to respond? If I ignore her, she accuses me of poor and irresponsible communication skills; if I respond aggressively, it fuels her fire; if I acquiesce, she gets on a power trip and it becomes difficult to set boundaries. Where's the solution?

Feb. 21 2014 12:23 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Leonard, did you get that "hot-button" list right off your comment pages??

Feb. 21 2014 12:22 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Our species, like most other higher mammalian species, is political. All human relationships are political. That is, there is always going to be a power struggle at one level or another. In family political struggles, children are often the pawns and victims when divorce becomes the solution. Life is a Kampf, a struggle for power and survival.

Feb. 21 2014 12:22 PM
Leila

What about micromanagers? Can't really collude or rebel - it just makes the problem worse.

Feb. 21 2014 12:16 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The answer is Robots. The sooner we can hand over power to robots, the better off we'll be. Hopefully, the day will come as with the end of slavery, that no human will have power over another human. We'll all answer to our microprocessor driven robot managers.

Feb. 21 2014 12:13 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The answer is Robots. The sooner we can hand over power to robots, the better off we'll be. Hopefully, the day will come as with the end of slavery, that no human will have power over another human. We'll all answer to our microprocessor driven robot managers.

Feb. 21 2014 12:12 PM
Hugh

Near the height of the Wall Street debacle, a story made the rounds of Lloyd Blankfein and his wife having a very public fit at having to wait: http://pagesix.com/2009/08/05/goldman-sachs-wives-hate-to-wait/

Feb. 21 2014 12:12 PM
sanych

I have a problem with people who misinterpret fairy tales, like "Emperor New Clothes". Typically, they are clueless about their subject.

Feb. 21 2014 12:10 PM
suzanne joblonski from New Jersey by way of Brooklyn

Curious: Does this take in account that some people have poor or lack social skills due to the disabilities that may be living with?
Suzanne Joblonski,Advocate for People With Disabilities

Feb. 21 2014 10:16 AM

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