PRSSA Kent’s “How to Handle Difficult Personalities”

By Anne Dudley

PRSSA Kent hosted Ben Brugler and Brandi Neloms at their Nov. 16 meeting on “How to Handle Different Personalities” in Franklin Hall.

Ben Brugler is the vice president at Akhia, a full-service public relations and marketing communications agency and an alumnus of Kent State’s public relations program. Brandi Neloms is also an alumna, and a marketing and sales support manager at Digital Color International.

The pair discussed their experience with handling an array of personality traits as coworkers, account service managers, team members and supervisors.

Some key takeaways:

1. “You can never over-communicate” – Ben B. Always make sure you are on the same page as your coworkers and clients. Ask for clarification and understanding in a sincere and respectful way.

2.  Deal with conflict immediatelyDisagreements will happen with coworkers, especially when people are passionate about their work and/or their stance. When work is over, be sure to leave the conflict at door.

“When you walk out of the door, make sure you’re on the same page. As coworkers you will be spending so much time together. You will have to learn to work together. Don’t leave things left unsaid.” – Ben B. In the end, you and your coworkers must be on the same team and be able to support and defend each other.

3.  Follow the Golden Rule – As easy as kindergarten. Treat others how you want to be treated.

4.  Be honest, authentic and consistent – Choose your words carefully based on your objectives in conversations. It is not always necessary to tell a colleague everything on your mind regarding a project. Also, consider the consistency of your actions. If you are known to always tell someone where you stand, be sure to always do that. Be deliberate in your approach. Do not be unpredictable or wavering in how you deal with situations or conflicts as it could mislead people.

5.  “There is no little thing” when it comes to building relationships – Ben B. Remember the little things about your colleagues and clients. Birthdays. Favorite restaurants or movies. Hobbies. Find meaningful ways to connect with people, even if they seem small.

Show an interest in people Brandi N. Maybe you’re the youngest one in the office or one of the only males or females. Make genuine attempts to get to know your coworkers. An understanding of their perspective and background may help you get along. 

6.  Manage expectations – Try to understand the pressures your clients may be under. How does your work fit into their business objectives, their plan and even their day-to-day life? What is their industry like? What kind of expertise or experience do they have?

7.  Say “I’m sorry” and “thank you”- Ben recalled Amber Naslund’s presentation at the YouToo Social Media Conference in April 2011. Working with clients requires a practitioner to build relationships and a mutual understanding of objectives and intentions. Always try to be understanding of what client goals, deadlines, supervisors, etc.

8.  “Be a sponge” – Brandi N.  Absorb everything you can for the first six months. Brandi’s analogy not only illustrates how to be respectful in a new position, but also why it is so greatly important to learn as much as you can. Consider the appropriateness of your words and actions as a new hire and the expertise and experience your colleagues may have that you do not. 

Anne Dudley is a second-year master’s student of public relations and graduate assistant in the Dean’s Office of the College of Communication and Information.

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