Most businesses are made up of a variety of people and characters. There are so many different tests we can take which determine our personality type, we should work in a team and how all of us can get the best out of each other. There are the introverts and the extroverts and of course the organised analytical types and the disorganised creative personalities. We learn how to deal with most people and work together efficiently. But what happens when you have to work with a real ‘character’? One of those people that has what can only be described as a ‘big personality’? We’ve all met them – they may be a bit loud, a bit wacky and somewhat different to the rest of us. They don’t necessarily mean any harm but they do drain your time and energy nevertheless. Here are my tips on dealing with ‘characters’ at work.

1. Don’t match their personality

Usually I would suggest that assistants match the personality type of those they work with. Communication is a lot easier if you are able to adapt your communication style. The complete opposite is true when it comes to ‘characters’ at work. Try to keep your voice at a reasonable volume, keep the tone neutral and don’t meet their excited way of communicating. Keep your thoughts to yourself and only engage with them if you are not too busy with your own workload.

2. Supporting a ‘character’ at work

If you are an assistant to a big personality it is really worthwhile documenting all of your communications. These big personalities may be highly organised and analytical but may not have the social skills to manage you. Alternatively they may be widely flamboyant and totally disorganised which means they are less likely to remember everything they have asked you to do. Either way it is best for an assistant to remain somewhere in the middle of these two personality types and make sure they have a record of everything that has been asked of them. It can be good fun working with a big personality but it can also be a bit of roller coaster ride, documenting the detail is definitely an assistant’s safety net!

3. Know your own limits

I’ve said this before with other personality types (lazy colleagues and office drama queens) the best way to deal with them is to set your own limits. Characters in the office can be annoying and it is easy to get frustrated with them, especially if you have to work closely with them or they take up a lot of your time. Setting boundaries early in the relationship will help you minimise the amount of time you spend being annoyed! They should be able to gauge how you feel about them by your initial reaction. If they are loud and you are quiet they should notice and bring it down a notch or two. If they don’t notice, you will have to say something to them or you will have to be quiet to the extreme so that they finally catch on.

4. Choose your battles

There are many opportunities to avoid a big personality type and it is worth choosing which battles you fight with them. Remember that clashing with this personality is only going to cost you time. If, for example, they are holding court in the kitchen area you can wait until they’ve left. If they wander over to your desk to ask you something you can make yourself very busy so that you avoid long conversations. A time to fight back maybe during a meeting when they are interrupting or moving away from the main points. From experience it is never a good idea to be around them when you are out socialising with your work colleagues and their is alcohol flowing. Just avoid them at all costs!

5. Don’t try to fix this person

It’s not your job to make this person fit more naturally into the workplace. If they really are harmless do be nice to them but don’t make it your mission to make them more socially aware. If they are just plain crazy then that is hard to fix! All you have to do is maintain a relationship that enables you to work together productively. If you find yourself in a battle of wills they have already won and if you find yourself becoming more annoyed with them they have disrupted your working day. Your desired outcome is to stay clear of this ‘character’!

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