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Dealing with “Tricky People.”

Dealing with “Tricky People.”

Some groups drift to a point where they slowly become unhealthy over time. One of the significant contributors to an unhealthy group culture is the presence of ‘tricky people” that can drain a group of its life.

‘Tricky people dynamics’ could be a result of any of the following:

  • Incessant talkers
  • Needy people – financial, emotional, psychological
  • Those looking for attention
  • Controversial people look to unsettle, shock and affect the group adversely.
  • Withdrawn people – it’s challenging to get them to contribute
  • Emotionally detached people – they don’t read a group dynamic very well
  • Unbelievers – If they are particularly skeptical they can unsettle some of the immature in a group


Most groups can cope with one or two ‘tricky people dynamics’, depending on the size, but there is a tipping point at which a group reaches the ‘Point of No Return”. If a group is heading in this direction, it is wise to establish the cause, act quickly by changing the dynamic, and as a last resort, eject / relocate one or two personalities into other environments. It would be advisable to do this in conjunction with an elder or another leader.

While navigating some of these tricky waters, establishing clear parameters to a group discussion is helpful to ensure a meeting is never hijacked by one dominant personality. Some examples would include the following phrases before or during a discussion:

  • “We’re going to spin around the circle very quickly. So if you’re a communicator, start planning a concise answer to the question.”
  • “We’re going to discuss it for the sake of time and to give everyone an opportunity; let’s keep our answers brief.
  • ” Let’s pray for that (need) when we finish our discussion (rather than diving the whole meeting)
  • I’m going to interrupt; you have some great points there – let’s hear someone else’s take on the matter.

People in any of these categories are best dealt with first behind closed doors. They need to be heard, and leaders must win their hearts. In public, a leader should treat them with dignity and respect but never allow them to remove the life from a meeting. Strong leadership in a meeting is palatable, where the person in question knows a leader’s love and commitment for them.

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