Reading about Rob Ford on the weekend brought to mind all of the difficult people I have had to deal with in my career. Not as many as some I would imagine as I’ve spent most of my life out of the business mainstream but enough to know that it isn’t pretty.
Difficult personalities come in all stripes and flavours (perhaps in Ford’s case it is all shapes and sizes.)
- The boss or customer who moves the goal posts.
- The yeller or loud talker.
- The ones whose erratic behaviour makes it difficult to predict what’s next.
- The bully.
- The stonewaller.
- The perpetual critic.
The thing that is common to all of them is control. They seek to control a situation, to control you, and in this way get what they want because you’ll be to scared or terrified not to meet their needs.
Difficult people are that way because it works for them. They find what they get what they want by being difficult. For some reason, it’s a strategy that works, even over the long term.
What continually amazes me is how people put up with difficult people for so long. Why are we so slow to invalidate them, to get them out of the way? Why do we let ourselves be led by the Rob Fords of the world?