Common Destructive Behavior Patterns That Can Drive You NUTS, at Work, at Home, Everywhere (and what to do about them)

Dear Dr. Sylvia.

I hate to complain, but my boss is driving me totally crazy. He is smart and knows the science behind what we do, however, as a leader he is just plain awful.

For example, He is always telling us how great he is, how many awards he has won, about how much people adore him. 

Yet, when it comes to making decisions about big picture future endeavors, he shoots from the hip not based on any of the stats that are right in front of him. He does not ask for feedback, and without using these words, says “my way or the highway.”

I’m ready to leave.

Problem is, I love the products we have and I love making people healthy and happy. I left out the type of products our company manufactures since we are such a known brand. 

My guess is, that these braggart leaders who ignore the facts are a dime a dozen.

The big question is: what can I do before I give up and get out?


Still Hopeful

Dear Still Hopeful,

Think about your business leader and would you vote for her or him if you had the choice to choose?

Of course not.

Let’s look at the man you just discussed.  You just said he is annoying and always talking about how great he is, yet not willing to use data to drive decisions.

These are behaviors that can become super frustrating and make you want to run and hide, or worse, leave a company you love.

He sounds like a combination of a super achiever and a denier. That’s a combination filled with destructive possibilities.

It’s the type of person who is willing to drive the fastest race car on a winding road without guardrails.

That’s a way of behaving that could lead to an ugly crash. I see why you don’t want to continue in the speeding auto with him.

Where are all the normal, healthy people, you ask?

Yes, he was good at his prior job. However, as a leader he sucks.

 If he would only accept feedback and look the facts in the face, maybe there is a chance he would change.  

The bad news is: 

Every workplace is filled with disappointments like your boss or some version of him. 

There is the leader who never stops complaining or the hotshot newbie who is always talking about her past successes or the guy with the bad jokes who takes up so much air time at meetings.

In fact, haven’t you found that there are so many different personality characteristics that drive you nuts at one time or another? These frustrations are understandable. The big question, however, is why do some people behave in ways that hit your hot buttons, and what can be done about it?

And then there are times you have to look in your own mirror and ask, “Why do I always respond to braggarts or whiners in such a negative way?”

Here are the 13 most annoying and common patterns that show up at work, at home, everywhere. You will see your boss or direct report or maybe the woman who just joined who never shuts up about her ideas… You may see your mother-in-law who judges everything or your sister who was always attempting to make you look foolish. And, maybe, you will see a part of yourself.

The good news is: 

These patterns of behavior are real. This is good news?  Yes, once you recognize them you can do something about them. You can transform them to flip to the other side, the positive side. You can begin to change how you respond and maybe even help someone else change how they look at what is really going on past superficial reactions

The first order of business is to observe them:

  1. Super Achiever – must win at all costs
  2. Rebel – can’t accept any authority
  3. Procrastinator – won’t finish anything
  4. Clown – reduces everything to a joke
  5. Persecutor – bullies people into misery
  6. Victim – too scared to take any action
  7. Rescuer – demands to be the big hero
  8. Drama Queen/King – makes emotional scenes
  9. Martyr – does everyone else’s work
  10. Pleaser – says what folks want to hear
  11. Avoider – dodges work and responsibility
  12. Denier – won’t face problems directly
  13. Splitter – secretly sets up the conflict

There are ways to cope with people who fit these patterns. Better yet, there are ways to go beyond coping and help them transform into more productive ways of responding.

I don’t want you to think this is an instant fix. It is not. 

Changing behavior in anything beyond a superficial way requires discipline, time, and commitment. However, it is possible to make change happen once you look back at where the patterns started. And when you do, the rewards are amazing – more honest communication, better relationships, optimized teamwork, better financial results, and the deep fulfillment that comes with living a more authentic life.

Emotional intelligence is important and becoming pattern aware is the next layer of 21st Century leadership development.

I suggest you set up a strategy session with one of our Pattern Breakthrough Coaches before you give up and get out.

Here’s to your success,


P.S. You would also benefit from reading my award-winning book Don’t Bring It to Work” for more information and ways to make change happen effectively

P.S.S You may also want to consider signing up for my online program Stress Busters that goes into detail about the patterns and what to do so you can move from chaotic to calm.

Sylvia Lafair