The (Unlucky) 13 Traits of High Maintenance People

3 – They could be self-sufficient. But they’re not. The task could be as simple as looking up an email address, retrieving a file, or looking up a bit of needed information over the web. But this person feels more engaged and important by making continual requests for service from others, including the boss.

4 – They cling to stories of personal wrongs from the past. The high maintenance individual has a difficult time moving past real or imagined wrongs of the past. The faults of others become a script that plays over and over as justification for extra support, lower work expectations, or greater entitlements now.

5 – They talk. A lot. The high maintenance person thrives on attention. They have a continual need for others to serve as their sounding boards. While discussion and brainstorming is necessary and healthy, high maintenance people feel the need to use their co-workers as ad hoc life advisors and coaches; however they have little desire or motivation to actually hear and take the advice they receive. Mostly, they crave a listening ear.

6 – They are seldom satisfied. High maintenance people will see the flaws in every situation. Even when they’ve been given extra care and attention, they will invariably find something wrong with the solution or service they’ve received, or will feel the need to ask for an additional “adjustment” in order to gratify their need to feel validated and served.

8 – They live in a state of perpetual drama. If you are around a high maintenance person for an extended period of time, you will observe frequent periods of meltdown during the course of the day. Every small inconvenience or mistake becomes a crisis. They will learn to work the internal HR system heavily at every turn.

9 – They handle money poorly. Regardless of the economy or circumstance, high maintenance people are perpetually in debt. No matter their income, their living expenditures and needs are invariably more. They expend an exceptional amount of stress and energy dealing with past due accounts and the perpetual juggling act to use this month’s income to cover last month’s bills.

10 – They place a high importance on material status. The entitlement aspect of high maintenance people leads them to be keenly focused on the belongings or the status of others as well. This trait can infect the highest people in the organization, such as the CEO who demands that every company event include the provision of free upgrades and presidential suites at no additional cost. Ironically, the focus on material possessions and status is actually the sign of insecurity and of a low self-esteem.

13 – They resent authority are often critical of others. It is extremely difficult for these individuals to respect authority or to see the bigger picture. Instead, they hold fast to their opinions of the support they need and the credit they should receive in order to fulfill their assignments. Passive aggressive behavior is paramount (undermining the boss by spreading unrest or ill will – often veiling the bad behavior in an aura of superiority or nobility).

As an employer, however, I’m not laughing—I’m recognizing that much of the impetus lies with the boss or employer to vet prospective employees for emotional maturity (what author Dan Goleman refers to as “Emotional IQ”) in making great hires. Alan Hall gives great advice on hiring as well, in his Forbes article and eBook the 7 Cs: How to Find and Hire Great Employees.

If your company is already infected, you should deal with the situation directly. In some cases, you may succeed in helping these individuals to find their better nature and make a positive change. Nothing is more rewarding than turning a negative pattern around. However, in some cases the toxicity may be so deeply embedded that the only way to deal effectively is to simply refuse to engage. You will need to be firm. You may even need to part ways.

If you describe something or someone as high-maintenance, you mean that they require a lot of time, money, or effort.

High Maintenance Men

The (Unlucky) 13 Traits of High Maintenance People

6 – They are seldom satisfied. High maintenance people will see the flaws in every situation. Even when they’ve been given extra care and attention, they will invariably find something wrong with the solution or service they’ve received, or will feel the need to ask for an additional “adjustment” in order to gratify their need to feel validated and served.

10 – They place a high importance on material status. The entitlement aspect of high maintenance people leads them to be keenly focused on the belongings or the status of others as well. This trait can infect the highest people in the organization, such as the CEO who demands that every company event include the provision of free upgrades and presidential suites at no additional cost. Ironically, the focus on material possessions and status is actually the sign of insecurity and of a low self-esteem.

As an employer, however, I’m not laughing—I’m recognizing that much of the impetus lies with the boss or employer to vet prospective employees for emotional maturity (what author Dan Goleman refers to as “Emotional IQ”) in making great hires. Alan Hall gives great advice on hiring as well, in his Forbes article and eBook the 7 Cs: How to Find and Hire Great Employees.

4 – They cling to stories of personal wrongs from the past. The high maintenance individual has a difficult time moving past real or imagined wrongs of the past. The faults of others become a script that plays over and over as justification for extra support, lower work expectations, or greater entitlements now.

3 – They could be self-sufficient. But they’re not. The task could be as simple as looking up an email address, retrieving a file, or looking up a bit of needed information over the web. But this person feels more engaged and important by making continual requests for service from others, including the boss.

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