In our roles as a security professional we will at times come across individuals with high conflict personalities, especially if you are working in a team leader / management type role. To be successful it is essential that we learn to deal with each of these personalities in a professional, tactful and respectful manner.
High net worth circles can provide you with these challenges on an almost daily basis; this may be from personal assistants, house/estate managers or other heads of department within your Principals organisation with whom you may have to work. If you work for a Principal who is a big name with great wealth and status it can give a greater sense of importance to the senior staff that fill key positions.
Individuals may feel under more pressure and strain the higher the stakes and will be a lot more protective of their jobs and with the information they receive and pass out. Important information can be like currency with some heads of department, some would rather hold onto the helpful information that they receive rather than passing it on and working as a team. You can sometimes get the sense that if helpful information is given to you, that the person will at some point want something in return.
Remember when dealing with individuals of this type that you give them the respect that their position deserves and talk to them correctly in the same manner you would expect in return, they are not the Principal, they do however work for the Principal and all parts should be working as one.
People with high conflict personalities tend to exhibit all-or-nothing thought processes, appear impulsive and can be demeaning and demanding of the people they interact and work with if they feel they have a higher status. There can be a complete lack of logical reasoning which makes a high conflict personality extremely difficult to deal with, we must learn to remain calm and in control when faced with these situations.
The best way to handle a high conflict personality in practice, and remain professional in doing so, is to fully understand who you are dealing with and find a way to make it work until your goal is achieved whatever that maybe. This will take trial and error if you are new to an organisation and don’t yet know the personalities but as long as you are professional and courteous to your peers you should be able to navigate these tricky waters fairly easily.
High conflict personalities tend to share similar characteristics and there are so many different types of high conflict people that you are likely to encounter, both within your professional and personal lives. These personalities can be bred based on an underlying fear of abandonment or insecurities in comparison to others around them. Some characteristics include all-or-nothing thinking, impulsiveness, a total lack of responsibility for their actions, and distorted perspectives and expectations.
Good advice which I have read and have always found useful when dealing with someone who has these character traits is to stop yourself from attempting to “diagnose” or going up against the person with the high conflict personality; instead recognize when you are dealing with someone exhibiting these characteristics and work around as it is this which will always lead to the better solution. You cannot change a high conflict personality, so you must have a calm and well-practiced approach to working alongside them. If you cannot control them, you must control yourself. Control your body language, the tone of your voice, remain calm and firm; threatening a high conflict person is unproductive.
If the high conflict personality has an issue that is affecting you and you feel it is escalating where it is hindering you in your role providing a security function you could confront the person, hit the problem head on and try to eliminate it before further escalation. A high conflict person is generally more than happy to tell you what their issue is with you so by getting it out in the open it can sometimes be a good thing, this way you can both put the issues to bed and once again start operating as a team.
Other people will always sense the high conflict personality in action, if you remain calm and professional throughout it will only highlight the weakness of the other person. As a security professional you should be looking to avoid conflict wherever possible and provide solutions to the problems with which you are faced.
If you receive an email from someone with a high conflict personality whom you may be having issues with, sit on the email, do not immediately send a nasty reply. Best advice is that you hold onto the reply for 24 hours before deciding whether or not it is appropriate to send out. Also a good tip is to remember to not put the recipients email address in until you are sure you want to send the message to avoid sending inadvertently.
Dealing with high conflict personalities is and always be tricky, but if you remain calm and in control you can get the job done professionally and become better in each future dealing which can only help when looking to get the job done!
By: Shaun West