Difficult people and difficult conversations come in many shapes and sizes. As the leader or manager, it is your responsibility to understand the varying personalities of your team members and address any situations that may arise. Ignoring or delaying addressing a problem signals the team that the behavior is acceptable and can cause the issue to worsen over time.

The following are some various personality types and approaches to use when dealing with difficulties:

  • The YES person
    This team member is quick to volunteer their help, but often over-commits and is usually slow to deliver. The result is they please no one because the task does not get done.
    Solutions: Make it safe for the YES person to be honest, look to strengthen the relationship, and teach them task and time management skills.
  • The Know-It-All
    This person has a lot of knowledge and loves to tell you and everyone else the how, when and why. They may go on for hours if you let them and will not give you or anyone else the opportunity to share thoughts or ideas.
    Solutions: Be prepared to know your stuff and speak concisely. To make them feel less threatened, present your ideas somewhat indirectly using words like, ‘perhaps,’ ‘maybe’ or ‘I was wondering if.’ Let them know you consider them to be a source of knowledge and value their input.
  • The NO-NO
    Strongly resistant to change, the ‘NO-NO’ is the first person to give a reason why your desired approach won’t work and is usually quick to try to discourage others.
    Solutions: Do not try to convince them to be positive — you’re wasting your breath and time. Instead, use them as a resource — because they look at the negatives, they may uncover a flaw in an idea that you missed — act as if the negative feedback is meant to be helpful. Appreciate them for having high standards and speaking up or give them some time to think and come back with potential solutions to the problems they raised.
  • The Slacker
    After you have identified the issue, monitor and keep track of the pattern of behavior. When you are ready and observe the behavior, publicly ask the slacker to come with you right now to your office, turn and lead the way. Sit behind your desk, motion the slacker to take a seat and use the behavior record to begin your conversation. Stay focused on the results of the behavior, don’t get sidetracked and be very clear about the required changes and consequences if change does not occur.

If there comes a time that you need to have a difficult conversation with a member of your staff, understanding the different traits and behaviors of each person can give you foresight into how the conversation may go. Preparing for the discussion in advance will allow you to maintain a comfortable relationship and working environment after the conversation.

If you need help with any business operations, including staff challenges or office culture, PECAA’s Business Operations Advisor, Kathy Long, is here to help. As a PECAA Max member, you can receive expert advice from PECAA’s Member Business Advisors at no additional cost! Already a member? Book a meeting with Kathy here to get started. Not a PECAA Member? Contact us to learn how PECAA can help your practice thrive.


Kathy Long, Business Operations Advisor
Connect with Kathy on LinkedIn

Kathy has over 29 years’ experience in the eye care industry. Prior to joining PECAA, she developed, implemented and managed many aspects of a practice including finance, operations, insurance, credentialing and IT. She participated in the planning and execution of 13 location remodels, 11 cold start offices, and was responsible for the HR, systems and procedural integration of more than 25 practice acquisitions. Kathy now serves as PECAA’s Business Operations Advisor working with members, helping them with all aspects of their practice.

Kathy is based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, spending time with family and friends, and staying up-to-date on pit bull rescues and fostering programs such as Roofus and Kilo or Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Download Our Ultimate Checklist for Running a Successful Optometry Practice

This checklist will help audit key areas of your practice and guide you toward sustainable, long-term success and growth.

Please complete the following form to download the ultimate checklist for running a successful optometry practice