How to Cope with Negative People

negative people, coping with negative people

By and large, CEOs and business owners are positive by nature. They have to be. A belief in their own abilities and in the positive traits of those around them is key to succeeding in their professional endeavors.

Inevitably, however, business leaders will encounter negative individuals on the way, people who feel pessimistic about their own futures and (intentionally or not) tend to introduce a toxic element in the workplace. There’s a reason why the saying, “Misery loves company,” has resonated throughout the ages.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be feel trapped by negative people or obliged to deal with them on a regular basis. Here are strategies and action steps you can take to minimize the influence of negativity in your professional life:

Know how to recognize signs of negativity. Some signs are too clear-cut to miss, such as chronic complaining or refusing to take responsibility for one’s actions. Other damaging qualities are more subtle but no less insidious. Work on broadening your understanding of how negative people tick and the warning signs of their damaging attitudes.

“The causes of bizarre, destructive or irrational behavior can be many,” observes business owner Liam Massaubi. “Learn to identify toxic people and avoid at all costs even if it is a short-term loss for business.”

Alter your responses to negative people. There’s not much you can do about what’s shaped a negative person’s outlook. What you can control is your own response when encountering such people, including:

Set boundaries. Only in rare circumstances should you feel obligated to remain in conversation with a toxic individual. Most of the time, keep your interactions short and then be on your way.

Avoid arguments. Just as the 2016 election cycle demonstrated, some topics are simply too poisonous to discuss with others. “A negative person likely has very staunch views and isn’t going to change that just because of what you said,” notes life coach Celestine Chua. If you choose to engage in such a conversation, “give constructive comments, and if the person rebuts with no signs of backing down, don’t engage further.”

Take responsibility for your attitude. Ultimately, it’s how you react to a negative person that informs the outcome of the encounter. Some people have the uncanny ability to detect the good in everyone they meet. This is a useful trait for business leaders to develop in themselves.

Practice empathy. In some cases, you can mitigate the effects of a negative person by attempting to understand why they behave as they do. If a person who’s normally upbeat by nature becomes ill-tempered and difficult to deal with, look for possible underlying causes, i.e., problems in their job or personal life. If you can get a sense of what’s bothering them, you might be able to lighten the mood or even offer some support or assistance. This can dramatically change a bad situation to a positive one.

Get rid of chronically negative employees. Your company’s workplace culture is a key element in attracting and retaining top talent. Recognizing that even one chronically negative employee can poison the well, act quickly to change that individual’s behavior—or be willing to let him go. “In the hunt for talent, businesses can’t afford to lose valued workers because the work environment is dysfunctional, fear-based or insufficiently appreciative of their contributions.”

Most importantly, practice being consistently positive in your own outlook. There’s no law that states CEOs must be brusque, ill-mannered or otherwise act in a negative manner. A friendly, optimistic attitude is infectious (in the best possible sense) and also makes for a longer, healthier and more satisfying life.

Having a network of forward-looking colleagues also helps influence business leaders in a positive way. You’ll find just such an upbeat network when you join a TAB Board.

 

The Key to Selling to Different C-Level Personalities

selling to different c-level personalities

According to conventional wisdom, effective selling is all about forging relationships between a business and its customers. But relationships can only be established when you identify the customer’s personality type—particularly among those inhabiting C-level offices. Sales prospects at this high level can’t be approached in the same manner as the purchasing manager in a warehouse.

To be successful, a sales team—or, as can happen in B2B and other transactions, the company’s owner—must be able to interact with individuals possessing dramatically different attitudes and behaviors.

Generally speaking, salespeople will encounter four distinct personality types among C-level executives. Each displays certain traits and characteristics and requires that the sale team be proficient in adaptive selling in order to close the deal.

Here are the four types of C-level personalities. Do you find yourself among these? What are the best ways to work with these varying individuals?

#1. The Driver (or Assertive Type)

We’re all familiar with this personality type—forceful, hard-charging business leaders who are deeply focused on a company’s long-range goals and the state of its bottom line. Unafraid of challenges, they’re quick to take action and do so in a decisive, no-regrets manner.

Look for self-assured body language, a tendency to speak in declarative sentences and a strongly competitive nature. Business expert Jeffrey Hayzlett offers a somewhat exaggerated description of the Driver’s office as “filled with things they’ve killed or captured, things they’ve done, such as good deeds or certificates earned, and examples of anything they’ve accomplished or overcome in their careers.”

The best sales approach with Drivers is to be direct and professional. Be ready to buttress your sales pitch with hard facts. It’s also wise to offer them multiple proposal choices because, as Hayzlett notes, “their other alternative is to say no—and trust me, they’ll say no 95 percent of the time.” Given more than one option, they revel in the power to choose.

#2. The Expressive Type

These are creative individuals with outsized personalities who enjoy bonding with the sales representative. Making high-level decisions doesn’t come naturally to them. Facts are important, but so are more intangible elements like the relevance of their individual perspectives and a concern for the welfare of employees.

With Expressives, it’s often most effective to stress a strong provider-client relationship. Share some of your own experiences (as they relate to the specific sales situation) and describe the benefits to them and their business as a result of the sale. Be patient as they work their way towards a buying decision.

#3. The Analytical Type

Often found in positions like CFOs and CIOs, the Analytical type much prefers working with statistical and qualitative data. Before arriving at a decision, they will undertake in-depth research, verifying every sales claim you make on behalf of your product or service.

With Analyticals, a salesperson digresses from the matter under discussion at his or her peril. Be prepared for an onslaught of questions, which can be intimidating but will also demonstrate the depth of your knowledge. They will also take time arriving at a decision, so your patience (and readiness to provide more facts and figures upon request) will factor heavily in whether or not you close the deal.

#4. The Amiable Type

These individuals value being part of a team and pride themselves on their ability to get along with just about everyone. They like innovative solutions, particularly those that embody a business’ core values. Building relationships based on trust and rapport is also important.

With Amiables, it’s best to emphasize your own most likable qualities. Ask questions relating to their C-level experiences. Emphasize the collaborative nature of the sales transaction, while also focusing on how your solution involves little risk on their part. Try to avoid offering them too many options to choose from. Generally speaking, they want you to provide the most balanced, intelligent solution for them to accept.

The more you know about the prospect’s personality type, the better you can adapt your sales pitch and presentation. This approach offers a greater chance of success than any “one-size-fits-all” sales strategy.

Want more advice for your sales process, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!