By Nancy Asmus
Less than 24 hours after Valentine’s Day, about 20 Brookhaven College students and employees shifted their attention from love to conflict while attending the “Mean People Stink!” SkillsShops workshop Feb. 15.
Beverly Neu Menassa, assistant dean of student services and counselor, led the hour-long session. She shared techniques through the use of cartoons, anecdotes and a visual presentation on how to deal with individuals who exhibit strong personalities.
The types of negative personalities, according to Neu Menassa’s presentation, are clingy, controlling, competitive, self-important, chronic complainer and victim. Neu Menassa provided tips to help students maneuver through difficult situations.
Student Linda Hamblin said she works in the fashion industry and deals with customers and clients daily. She said the session was fantastic, entertaining and organized with great points and visuals. “We’ve all seen people who like to be mean in a public setting with the intent to hurt,” Hamblin said.
According to Neu Menassa, individuals with clingy personalities are naturally drawn to stronger people and want to be taken care of and to feel loved.
Neu Menassa said running away from clingy personalities is not an effective response. “They are like Velcro and will stick,” she said. Neu Menassa said an effective way of dealing with clingy personalities in a group setting is to assign those individuals tasks so they learn how to manage something alone.
She said there is motivation behind the personalities that are more difficult to deal with. The controlling personality type may deflect insecurity by being hyper-critical and refuse to back down, while the chronic complainer might struggle with unresolved anger.
“It’s not about you, it’s about them,” Neu Menassa said. “Don’t try to change them. You can only change your responses to their behavior.”
According to Neu Menassa, setting personal boundaries and remaining objective and unemotional during any encounter is an effective method for dealing with such personalities.
Response tips to address complainers with varied opinions include replying: “that’s interesting” and “thank you.”
Student Nayeli Duarte attended the workshop for extra credit with her boyfriend Luis Ayala. Duarte said she looks forward to using Neu Menassa’s tip for redirecting any mean-spirited attacks and hurtful remarks by saying “ouch.”
Neu Menassa closed the discussion by sharing a PowerPoint presentation reinforcing that a person can stop bad behavior by not participating in it.