Dealing With People You Can't Stand 2nd Ed.

How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst

Rick Kirschner, Rick Brinkman

Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 2002, 226 pages

ISBN: 0-07-137944-4

Keywords: Human Resources

Last modified: Feb. 20, 2011, 10:01 p.m.

Since this bestselling book first appeared, technology has spawned a whole new breed of annoyances. Life today is filled with even more people you can't stand!

  • People on cell phones, oblivious to your personal space
  • E-mail “buddies”, venting their frustrations online
  • Bully bosses with the power to get away with it
  • Whining coworkers whose negativity is driving you crazy

At best, such people can make life stressful and unpleasant. At worst, they can keep you from achiving important goals. The good news is that it is fully within tour power to bring out the best behavior in people who are at their worst!

Sounds impossible? It's not. Just ask the millions of people who have benefited from Brinkman and Kirschner's proven, innovative approach to dealing with difficult people. This bestselling guide will teach you:

  • How to identify the 10 most unwanted behaviors and how to deal with each of them
  • How difficult people think, what they fear, and why they act the way they do
  • How to be persuasive and use your influence
  • How to cultivate “take charge” skills that turn conflict into cooperation
  • Part 1. Getting to Know the People You Can't Stand
    1. The 10 Most Unwanted List
      Ten specific behaviors that represent people at their worst!
      • The Tank
      • The Sniper
      • The Grenade
      • The Know-It-All
      • The Think-They-Know-It-All
      • The Yes Person
      • The Maybe Person
      • The Nothing Person
      • The No Person
      • The Whiner
    1. The Lens of Understanding
      A magnifying glass on behaviors reveals the motives behind them.
      • What Determines Focus and Assertiveness?
      • Get the Task Done
      • Get the Task Right
      • Get Along with People
      • Get Appreciation from People
      • It's a Question of Balance
      • As Intent Changes, So Does Behavior
      • You Can Hear Where People Are Coming From
      • Shared Priorities, No Problems
      • What Happens When the Intent Isn't Fulfilled?
    1. The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
      How thwarted intent produces behaviors that make people difficult to deal with.
      • Threatened Intent to Get It Done
      • Threatened Intent to Get It Right
      • Threatened Intent to Get Along with Others
      • Threatened Intent to Get Appreciated by People
      • To Summarize
  • Part 2. Surviving Through Skillfull Communicatiuons
    1. From Conflict to Cooperation
      United we stand, but divided we can't stand each other. Conflict occurs when the emphasis is on differences. Reducing differences can turn conflict into cooperation.
      • Two Essential Skills: Blending and Redirecting
      • Blend Nonverbally with Body and Facial Expresions
      • Blend Vocally with Volume and Speed
    1. Listen to Understand
      When two or more people want to be heard, and no one listens, an argument is inevitable. Listen and understand first, and you unlock the doors to people's minds.
      • People Want to Be Heard and Understood
    1. Reach a Deeper Understanding
      Sometimes the most important and useful elements of communication are hidden, not just from the listener, but from the speaker as well. Identify these to get a positive outcome.
      • Identify Positive Intent
      • Identify Highly Valued Criteria
    1. Speak to Be Understood
      What you say to people can produce defensiveness or trust, increase resistance or cooperation,promote conflict or understanding. Learn these ounces of prevention!
      • Monitor Your Tone of Voice
      • State Your Positive Intent
      • Tactfully Interrupt Interruptions
      • Tell Your Truth
      • Stay Flexible
    1. Get What You Project and Expect
      People rise or fall to the level of your expectations and projections. Use these projection strategies to motivate your problem people to change themselves.
      • Pygmalion Power
      • Assume the Best, Give the Benefit of the Doubt
      • Appreciate Criticism
  • Part 3. Bringing Out the Best in People at Their Worst
    1. The Tank
      Pushy and ruthless, loud and forceful, or with the quiet intensity and surgical precision of a laser, the Tank assumes that the end justifies the means. Expect no mercy.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Command Respect
      • Action Plan
      • What If the Tank's Accusations Are True and You Are in the Wrong?
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Sniper
      This covert operator identifies your weaknesses and uses them against you, through sabotage behind your back or well-aimed putdowns in front of the crowd
      • Unfriendly Fire
      • Friendly Fire
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Bring the Sniper Out of Hiding
      • Action Plan
      • Special Situation: Friendly Fire
      • Special Situation: Third Party Sniping
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Know-It-All
      This person knows 98 percent of anything. Just ask! Know-It-Alls will tell you what they know – for hours at a time – but won't take a second to listen to your clearly inferior ideas.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Open Their Minds to New Ideas
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Think-They-Know-It-All
      This character doesn't know much, but doesn't let that get in the way. Exaggerating, bragging, misleading, and distracting, these legends-in-their-own-minds pull you off track.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Give Their Bad Ideas the Hook
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Grenade
      When they blow their tops, they're unable to stop, and shrapnel hits everyone in range. Then the smoke clears, the dust settles, and the cycle begins building to critical mass again.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Take Control of the Situation
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Yes Person
      Quick to agree, slow to deliver, the Yes Person leaves a trail of unkept commitments and broken promises. Though they please no one, Yes People overcommit to please!
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Get Commitments You Can Count On
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Maybe Person
      When faced with a crucial decision, they keep putting it off until it's too late. But there comes a point when the decision makes itself. Then it's nobody's default but their own.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Help Them Learn to Think Decisively
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Nothing Person
      You won't know what's going on because they tell you nothing! No verbal feedback. No nonverbal feedback. They seal their mouths and stare past you as if you're not there.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Persuade the Nothing Person to Talk
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The No Person
      They say that “What goes up must come down.” And what comes down must never be allowed to get back uo again. Doleful and discouraging, they drive others to despair.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Transition to Problem Solving
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. The Whiner
      There's a plan for their lives, but they're not in it. Instead, they wallow in their woe, whine incessantly, and carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
      • You Better Adjust Your Attitude
      • Your Goal: Form a Problem-Solving Alliance
      • Action Plan
      • Great Moments in Difficult People History
    1. What If People Can't Stand You?
      By now you may have recognized that you, too, have days when you are at your worst. So what can you do about it? Find the answer in this exchange of letters
      1. What If You Are the Tank?
      2. What If You Are the Sniper?
      3. What If You Are the Know-It-All?
      4. What If You Are the Think-They-Know-It-All?
      5. What If You Are the Grenade?
      6. What If You Are the Yes Person?
      7. What If You Are the Maybe Person?
      8. What If You Are the Nothing Person?
      9. What If You Are the No Person?
      10. What If You Are the Whiner?
  • Part 4. Communication in the Digital Age
    1. Communication and the Challenge of Technology
      When you take advantage of digital communication tools like the phone and e-mail, you lose access to valuable communication cues. But where something is lost, something is gained. We show you how to use these tools to your advantage.
      • The “Numbers of Meaning”
      • Something Lost, Something Gained
    1. The Eight Ounces of Prevention in Phone Communication
      You can't see them. Here we show you how to take advantage of the fact that they can't see you either!
      1. Shape Perceptions
      2. Use Your Body for Tone Control
      3. Breathe for Your Life
      4. Chart a Course
      5. Know When to Hold'Em and When to Fold'Em
      6. Send Listening Signals!
      7. Sound Prepared, Even When You're Not
      8. You Can Close Your Eyes
    1. The Eight Ounces of Prevention in E-mail Communication
      You can't see them or hear them! Here we describe how to avoid the pitfalls and access the possibilities.
      • Use the Advantage of Time
      1. Vent It But Don't Send It
      2. Read It One More Time
      3. Read It at Another Time
      4. Get a Second Opinion
      5. Begin with Intention, End with Direction
      6. Quote Early, Quote Often
      7. Make Better Sense with Emoticons
      8. Use Jokes Carefully – Jokester Beware
      • Take the Time, Save Your Time
  • Afterword
    How to take the big step of applying the little steps in this book.
  • Appendix: How to Change Your Attitude
    Need the courage to stand your ground when you want to run, or to step forward in the face of determined opposition? Get an attitude adjustment when you need one!
    • Changing Your Reactions
    • Changing Your Perspective
    • Changing the Way You Talk to Yourself


Dealing With People You Can't Stand

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

OK ***** (5 out of 10)

Last modified: May 21, 2007, 3 a.m.

Interesting book, that describes all the generic types that we tend to get frustrated over. The interesting thing is that you usually manages to identify yourself among the annoying types described!

The authors has a lot of interesting advice, but some of it feels a bit naive, and you can trace a lot of their theories to other sources (as they don't reference anyone else, you have to do it yourself).

In short, an interesting read, but not really up to the advertised title.


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