Be a Social Butterfly

Different personality types and how to deal with them


How to be a social butterfly

Learning how to handle different types of people is the key to becoming more socially adept. Whether you have to deal with a moody teenager, a bullying boss, a controlling friend or a temperamental family member, sharpening your social skills will make life easier.

In an ideal world everybody would be friendly and kind to one another. But in reality, it's impossible to get along with everyone all the time. Usually, sources of conflict stem from a personality clash or a misunderstanding. If people behave in a way that is hurtful, their bad behaviour, almost without exception, is a reaction to their own fear and insecurities. So their behaviour is about their own failings, not yours.

Of course, knowing this doesn't prevent the pain of hurtful words or actions. But getting to grips with the different types of personalities you may encounter will help prepare you to deal with difficult people more effectively. This is especially helpful if you have to deal with these people frequently and don't have the option of avoiding them, such as people at work, family members, or acquaintances.

Personalities Explained

Here are some difficult personality types you might encounter and advice on how to handle them


Behaviour: Bossy and controlling; these people shout loudly to drown everyone else out

Explaining them: These types are terrified of losing control and of being challenged. They need to appear in control to disguise their real feelings of inadequacy

Deal with them: Set boundaries with a controlling person to let them know exactly when and how they are over-stepping the mark and imposing their views.

*Don't let their criticism upset you - just because they are sure they're correct doesn't mean they are! Form your own opinion; don't allow them to dominate you.

*Sometimes, a controlling person's intention is to be helpful but they express themselves badly.



Behaviour: This person is not keen to be part of the group; you might think they are snobby or aloof

Explaining them: Not everyone can be bubbly and outgoing. Shy people may find it difficult or draining to socialise. Understand that they are not trying to snub you; they are just self-conscious and sometimes lack confidence

Deal with them: Try to include them in the group. But don't take it as a personal insult if they don't participate in the way you hoped. There's nothing wrong with being a quiet, reflective person. These people can be very good listeners.



Behaviour: Prone to making rude remarks that can be upsetting

Explaining them: Often tactless behaviour is not done with ill-intent but it is more thoughtless

Deal with them: If you are upset by the remark, it's best to remove yourself from the situation to avoid an argument. Then later, when you are calm, tell them - in a non confrontational way - that you found their remark upsetting

*Humour is a good way of diffusing a tactless comment

Don't: Take it personally or add any significance to the comment.



Behaviour: A grumpy attitude and negative comments which threaten to drag everyone else down, too

Explaining them: Perhaps this person is going through a bad time. You might not be fully aware of their circumstances - so don't per-judge

Deal with them: Ask the person to whom they are emotionally closest to take grumpy aside and ask what's troubling them. Try to involve grumpy in the conversation and steer them towards a positive topic that you know they enjoy talking about. Don't tell them to cheer up or force them to be jolly.



Behaviour: Ungrateful and selfish

Explaining them: These people don't always realise the impact of their behaviour on others. Or they are often lazy and trying to push the boundaries of the behaviour they can get away with - don't let them!

Deal with them: Take selfish aside and tell them exactly what is expected and why. Don't ignore their behaviour or brush it under the carpet. Selfish needs to be tackled head-on, in a calm manner, or they will never change.



Behaviour: An attention seeker who dominates social situations

Explaining them: Being loud is often used to mask feelings of insecurity

Deal with them: Don't be intimidated by them - remember they are the ones who are masking insecurity. Do walk away, if possible, and leave them to their own devices if their loudness is becoming obnoxious or you feel drained by them. Try to get them to open up about a subject you are both interested in - you might see the true person underneath their extrovert exterior.


Passive Aggressive

Behaviour: Sarcasm, indirect hostility, ignoring you

Explaining them: These people feel resentful and aggrieved but lack the moral fibre to confront the problem

Deal with them: Remain calm and confront them in a polite way. State precisely what they are doing to upset you. Reiterate your point, in the first person, until they run out of excuses. Don't let them tell you are imagining the problem. Keep saying, 'Yes, but I feel hurt when you do that.' Make eye contact to establish a connection.


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