Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.

Best Handling Difficult People Skills

Best handling difficult people skills

Handling difficult people skills

Are you an Optimist, a Critical Thinker or a Cynic?

Here is an interesting way of looking at people:

Your work colleagues can be split into three categories:

  1. Optimists
  2. Critical thinkers
  3. Cynics
  • Two of these categories, you need;
  • One, you don't!

But how do you know, who belongs to which category?

Let us investigate....

First: compare: the Optimist against the Critical thinker.

Who would you rather have to pack your parachute for you, before you jump out of an aeroplane?

  1. An OPTIMIST? or

Answer: A critical thinker!

You don't want an optimist packing the parachutes, do you?

They get excited and say things like "Oh that will do. That will probably fly!"

The optimist bundles your parachute into the bag and hands it to you and says

"This is so cool! Here is your parachute. Put it on and JUMP!"

You furrow your brow and say "NO WAY!

I'm not jumping!"

At which point, the optimist says;

"Why are you so always so negative? You should develop your faith and think positive, like me!"

The optimist, here, is wrong.

He is wrong because there are two kinds of negative:

  1. Critical thinker negative
  2. Cynical negative

"Critical - thinker - negative"

Critical thinker negative is good

  • You need critical thinkers
  • You should encourage critical thinkers
  • You should listen to the advice of a critical thinker

"Cynical-negative" is bad

  • You don't need cynics
  • You should not encourage a cynic
  • You should not listen to cynicism

The problem is...
The cynic, too, furrows his brow and says "I'm not jumping!"

So the big question is...
How do you tell whether a person is saying, "NO. I'm not jumping" from a base of intellectual critical thinker or from a base of Emotional cynic?

What is the difference between being "cynical" and being "critical"?

(Before you read on: stop here and answer the question, for yourself.....)

Our answer:
The critical thinker is the person who negates an idea with good cause, AND who will ALSO provide a practical alternative plan.

The cynic is a person who negates an idea with good reason, but DOES NOT provide a practical alternative plan.

Critics say "NO, here's why, and here is a practical alternative plan..."

Cynics say "No, and here is why...." (No alternative plan is offered).

Here are the eight points to remember from this piece:

  1. Generally, optimism is good.
  2. Optimism on its own, without being allied to critical thinking, can be bad. i.e. it is possible to be over-optimistic. (Example: In 1986, the crew of the Challenger space shuttle discovered the penalty for over-optimism).
  3. Critical thinking is good, but it must be supplemented with a degree of optimism.
  4. Cynicism is bad.
  5. Cynicism must not be confused with critical thinking. Be prepared to critique a person's plan only if you are, at least, WILLING to work out an alternative.
  6. Telling people that their plan won't work, but offering them no alternative, is of only very limited value. Saying X is wrong, leaves open the question of, "What is right?"
  7. You can't go forward on "zero plans"; you can only go forward with plans.
  8. If someone says your plan won't work, don't ask him "WHY won't it work?", rather ask him "IF this plan won't work, then what plan WILL work?"

For more information about handling difficult people skills visit the Corporate Coach Group website

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Your Comments

Further Reading in Conflict Management and Handling Difficult People

  • How to Handle the Workplace Bully
    People bully others for a number of reasons, but unless you deal with them quickly and decisively, the bullying will just carry on. Here we offer some useful advice on how to handle that workplace bully. Don't be a victim of bullying at work.
    Read Article >
  • Constructive Criticism
    Your ultimate success requires that you develop the ability to TAKE criticism in an adult manner.
    Read Article >
  • How to deal with a smelly person at work
    If you have the task of telling a colleague that they smell, these are the steps you need to take.
    Read Article >
  • Learn How to Take Criticism
    Critical feedback is important information. It tells us that what we are doing is not working and that we need to change our approach.
    Read Article >
  • How to deal with a bully at work
    Do you have a problem with a bully at work? Would you like to have the confidence to fight back? Follow these six simple steps to take control of the situation and defeat the bully.
    Read Article >