Certain people are masters at feeding their own egos. If you’ve ever been cornered by a particularly insecure or competitive personality in the professional arena, you know how miserable these types of interactions can be.
They make conversation feel like a form of torture -- but it’s possible to navigate even the most challenging exchanges with grace.
1. The braggart. This dialogue-destroyer emphasizes status and wealth. He’ll share how much money he makes, with the conversation constantly revolving around his brand new Ferrari or his Fifth Avenue apartment.
Often, the not-so-humblebrags are delivered indirectly. He’ll tell you how the insurance on his yacht has skyrocketed in the past year, or how he wishes his girlfriend would stop buying Birkin bags. Whenever you run into a braggart, acknowledge his good fortune and then change the subject.
2. The rumormonger. This person is always at the center of gossip and drama. She’ll involve herself in everybody else’s personal lives and make it her business to spread juicy rumors.
Whenever you run into a rumormonger, change the subject -- or better yet, excuse yourself. Most importantly, never share anything confidential with her. If she’s spreading other people’s personal business around, you can bet she’ll do the same thing with yours.
3. The one-upper. This person will let you know that, whatever you’ve done, he’s got a story to top it. “Oh, you just got back from scaling Mount Kilimanjaro? That’s a good beginner’s trip. Climbing Everest was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”
The one-upper likes to feel important. It can be a challenge -- but be patient and ask questions. “It’s great to meet a fellow mountain climber. What was the most challenging part of your Everest trip?”
4. The hard-hearted. This individual has no filter. She says whatever’s on her mind with no concern for others’ feelings. Typically, this person isn’t deliberately hurtful, but she lacks an ability to express herself without it being perceived as negative or rude. “You’re looking super skinny. Have a chocolate brownie. You could stand to gain a few pounds.”
Avoid the temptation to respond defensively. The best way to handle this situation is to kill her with kindness or deflect the comment with humor or flattery. “Thank you for your concern. I’m trying to lose a few pounds so I can look as good as you!”
5. The brain-picker. This person takes and never gives back. He’ll corner you and ask endless questions, always looking for free advice. “You’re a dermatologist? Will you look at this mole on my arm? Should I be concerned?” Don’t dispense your valuable knowledge for free. Respond with something like, “Call my office first thing Monday morning and my assistant will schedule an appointment for you.”
6. The rambler. We’ve all had the experience of being held hostage by a rambler at a networking event. This person talks at you instead of with you. She thinks she’s being social by speaking, but monopolizes the conversation and exhibits all the traits of a chronic non-listener -- often interrupting.
Try to introduce the rambler to someone else or excuse yourself politely. Make sure to engage and stay in control of the conversation, however, before you disengage.