Sometimes it only takes one so-called “difficult” personality in an organization to ruin working life, performance deteriorates, and the morale and health of the entire team suffer. To understand this mechanism, this week I had the pleasure to speak with Roland Guinchard, psychologist, psychoanalyst, lecturer, and author of Difficult or Dangerous Personalities at Work. & nbsp;
To start, can you give us an overview of your book and explain why you chose to tackle this often taboo question?
Difficult or dangerous people, people who are having difficulty or are simply ‘confused’ and sick with comfort, you need to be able to tell the difference quickly. At work, faced with people whose behavior seems “a little” out of step, surprising, it’s important to be able to locate, identify what’s going on, and assess the level of risk for people or the organization in order to put them in place for short, medium and long term solutions.
Roland Guinchard: Business in commerce, industry and services is done with … people! Often talented, positive, friendly, and committed to the world of work. They make up a large majority. But sometimes this is not the case. So the questions begin: Why? What is it about? Is it my fault? And above all, how do we make it get better or at least not get worse? Can I change something about this situation? To what extent? Hundreds of other questions still arise … The aim of this book is to avoid false solutions that would aggravate the situation, to allow you to find individual or global management solutions, integrated into the profession in which everyone works.
You say real danger is very rare in business, what do you mean by that?
Roland Gunchard. This is what this book allows: to recognize and discern these behaviors and not confuse them with the difficult or dangerous nature of some interlocutors, clients, or individuals. Then we learn to put individual and then collective prevention, which we call “care work”. The goal in facing and solving the problem is to maintain a balanced work atmosphere that does not cause people to suffer unnecessarily or its consequences!
How would you describe a “difficult character” at work?
Attention, it is necessary to distinguish between restless and restless people, people with difficulties (actually depressed), difficult (rather “privileged”) people, dangerous people (insensible patients due to “modified nicknames”).
Roland Guinchard: A difficult person is not just the “other” who doesn’t do what we do… defined by three main criteria: He is someone whose behavior seems inappropriate… over and over again without us being able to figure out why… so much so that it becomes uncomfortable for others and for the functioning of the company. ..and sometimes for the same person! As for the so-called dangerous personalities, the question is fundamentally different, since it will be a question of psychopathology, paranoid or harmful.which will take on all the guise and disguise of normality, it is a pseudo-normality that hides something real, “twisted” and dangerous for the company or the people around it.
How is the distinction between difficult people and people with difficulties? What is the company’s responsibility towards them?
Roland Guinchard: The term “in difficulty” basically refers to people who are in a depressive state (which is not necessarily related to work, but will have consequences for the latter) or people who are going through a state of burnout. This last point is illustrated by the incredibly overinvestment in the business. The two questions are related, the common point being the apparent depression in the first case, poorly concealed under a surplus of work in the other. Faced with these situations, the company’s responsibility is to show concern (not feeling guilty) and activity (knowing how to steer, if possible with the help of a working doctor), towards proper care and a prepared return.
YML – In looking at the comments on the previous edition, I note that your book has helped many employees better understand the motivations of difficult characters. Can you say more about this?
For all humans, anxiety is basic, and always present to some degree (existential anxiety: something like fear but without knowing what it really is). For the so-called “difficult” personalities, this “unconscious fear” is more important than for the vast majority.
Roland Gunchard. Suffering from excessive anxiety will cause the person to overuse one of the three normal reactions we usually have to this anxiety. This is embodied in confronting others: speech, feelings, relationships, emotion, but also in confronting things or nature: control, mastery, knowledge, method or even in confronting change: resistance, protection, avoidance, flight. So what’s called a difficult person is someone who — feels this very strongly, without really knowing it, will be too much in the emotional relationship, too controlling, too much in the journey. But beyond this obsession with personality, which is sometimes exasperating in action, we remain with these people in the most perfect relational humanity. The only difference is in efficiency, control and excessive cowardice. This is managed on a day-to-day basis through the relationship or via work care tools.
Do you consider people to be more difficult than they were in the past? Can we see a correlation with remote work?
Honestly, I don’t think the difficult characters are more numerous or more serious. The question has always been there, without ever being named or addressed.
Roland Guinchard: On the other hand, many people today feel anxious and confused. How are they recruited more easily and retained more? In the face of their concerns, the firm’s emphasis on proposing to regularly seek balance in the professional atmosphere (see the above-mentioned seven points: speech, authority, project, etc.) is attractive to candidates and soothing to these employees. As for remote work, it does not seem to me that the root of certain difficulties arises. Simply changing the type of association and the relational situation it represents can bring out characteristics hitherto hidden by the classical organisation, in the ‘face to face’.
Managers are sometimes blamed for difficult personalities in the organization. Can you give some practical advice in such situations?
In order not to take full responsibility for the “relational panic” in his team facing difficult personalities, a manager who has had some training in these aspects of “practical professional psychology” must know above all, for example, that clarity is much better than kindness .
Roland Gunchard. By this I mean, not that you should stop all ‘niceness’, but start by putting all your administrative efforts into continually clarifying the rules and trying to maintain balance on the seven central themes which are: clarity of discourse, precision of hierarchy, interest of the project, conditions of practice, relation to local administration requirements Profession interest and maintain association with the company. We can measure that annually and quickly. DUERP “Rps” is naturally inferred from it and, in fact, action plans and necessary adjustments can be discussed and applied. Gradually, within a few months, in teams that want to measure these aspects, difficult personalities calm down and potentially dangerous personalities stop getting angry or … leave.