How to know when a boss is abusive or just difficult

If you've been abused before, you may be waiting for the other shoe to drop when dealing with a new boss. But difficult does not mean abusive. Understanding your personality type and others' personality types may help you better appreciate others' strengths and understand how to work with their weaknesses.

Here's a quick guide to the four personality types to help you better get along with difficult people. (Most people have a primary type and a secondary type, and opposite corners have the most difficulty in getting along because they operate the most differently.)

Task-oriented and aggressive

Get It Dones are results-focused. They have aggressive, competitive natures and are independent.


  • Objective-focused
  • Know what they want and how to get there
  • Communicates quickly
  • Gets to the point
  • Hardworking
  • Does not shy away from conflict


  • Sometimes tactless and brusque
  • Can get impatient
  • Can be an "ends justify the means" type of person

How to deal with a Get It Done:

  • Get to the point quickly in a clear and succinct manner
  • Speak in a fast pace
  • Be specific and don’t over-explain or repeat yourself
  • Make direct eye contact
  • Minimize small talk
  • Be organized and well prepared
  • Focus on results to be achieved
  • Be punctual and stick to guidelines

People-oriented and aggressive
Get Appreciateds are socializing-focused. They prefer to interact with others rather than work alone. They have a fast-paced communication style and generally work well with others.


  • Natural salesmen or story-tellers
  • Warm and enthusiastic
  • Good motivators and communicators


  • Can be competitive
  • Can tend to exaggerate
  • Can leave out facts and details
  • Sometimes would rather talk about things than do them

How to deal with a Get Appreciated:

  • Make direct eye contact
  • Speak in an energetic and fast paced manner
  • Support your ideas with the opinions of people they respect
  • Confirm any agreements made; follow up with a brief “to do” list so they remember what they agreed to do
  • Allow some socializing time in meetings
  • Talk about experiences, people, opinions, and facts
  • Ask about their “gut” feel
  • Maintain balance between fun and achieving results


People-oriented and passive
Get Alongs are relationship-focused. They readily express thoughts and feelings but are generally slower paced and security conscious. They prefer less intrusive interactions.


  • Kind-hearted people, often soft-spoken, who avoid conflict
  • Can blend into any situation well
  • Often loves art, music, and poetry


  • Can appear wishy-washy
  • Has difficulty with firm decisions
  • Highly sensitive

How to deal with a Get Along:

  • Use less intense eye contact
  • Speak in a moderate pace with a softer voice and moderate tone
  • Seek their opinions and ideas, then listen
  • Try not to counter their ideas with logical arguments
  • Allow time for them to make a decision to reduce pressure
  • Encourage them to express their concerns without getting upset with them
  • Aim for mutual agreement on work goals and completion dates

Task-oriented and passive
Get It Rights are data-focused. They have closed, personal style and an analytical approach. They take time to feel comfortable with others and reveal personal information.


  • Highly detail oriented people
  • Can have a difficult time making decisions without ALL the facts
  • Make great accountants and engineers
  • Very perceptive


  • Tend to be highly critical people
  • Can tend to be pessimistic in nature

How to deal with a Get It Right:

  • Be more formal in your speech and manner
  • Don’t speak in a loud or fast paced voice
  • Present the pros and cons of an idea along with options
  • Follow up in writing
  • Be punctual
  • Present information in an organized, planned, and comprehensive manner
  • Plans requiring risk-taking options are generally not welcomed

There are various models for this concept: DISC, color personalities, and several others including these categories: Directors, Influencers, Relaters, and Thinkers or Drivers, Expressives, Amiables, and Analyticals. Google any of these concepts for more ideas on how to work with each personality type.

Sources: Timur Tiryaki Success Academy and Understanding Communication Styles in the Workplace

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