We encounter many types of people in life, including at work as well as in our social networks. Some we cannot live without, and others we would like to live without. Here are the most common types of people and what to do with each. Many people are a hybrid of two or more.
Drainers – those who deplete your emotional tank
How do you spot a drainer? You are exhausted just thinking about your upcoming meeting with them. Drainers are not necessarily bad people; they are just very needy and can drain your emotional tank faster than you can refill it.
What to do with Drainers? You cannot and should not avoid Drainers – just limit your time with them.
Sustainers – those who replenish your emotional tank
Sustainers are truly a gift from God. After even a short time with them, you feel encouraged and confident. Whether it is by their humor, encouragement, or enjoying a hobby together, Sustainers add value to your life and overall health. We all need at least one or two Sustainers in our lives or the Drainers will drain us dry!
What to do with Sustainers? Don’t become a Drainer to them!
Trainers – those who add wisdom and counsel to your life
Mentor. Coach. Friend. Teacher. There should be people in our lives we can count on for wise advice. Proverbs 1:5 says it well – wise people seek counsel. A Sustainer and Trainer can be found in the same person, but not always. Trainers don’t need to be encouraging as much as they need to be wise and knowledgeable.
What to do with a Trainer? Listen to them or they will stop being a Trainer in your life!
Criticizers – those who consistently find what is wrong with you
Criticizers are heat seeking missiles and you are the target! The difference between a person who provides you with truthful feedback and a criticizer is often the volume. In most conversations, Criticizers lead with finding what is wrong with you, your leadership, the weather, room temperature, a sore foot, etc. You get the point. And yes, criticizers often carry the Drainer virus!
What do you with a Criticizer? Limit exposure if possible. If it’s not possible (because they are a spouse, boss, etc.), try to talk to them about it.
Users – those who just use others for their own purposes
Users are utilitarian in that you are a means to their ends. They are not “in relationship” with you, but rather want something from you. Money. Promotion. Access. Tasks. Their interaction with you is based upon what they need from you, otherwise you seldom hear from them. They are often shrewd and manipulative, having honed this craft from their early days and family experiences.
What to do with a User? Be on guard and don’t expect anything from them regarding relationship.
While we would all like to see ourselves as Sustainers and Trainers, it is likely that in some contexts, we are seen differently. It’s not easy or fun to have someone think of us as Drainers, Criticizers or Users. But we can aspire to lead well by looking at ourselves with a more accurate perspective, seeking feedback from others, and disciplining ourselves to live in such a way that we have a positive influence on those around us.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of organizational assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems Design from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from The Union Institute.