We all know them, their eyes bulging, voice blustering and blasting away commands.
It’s not that they have anything personal against you; they just have an intense drive to get things done.
In their view what has to happen is not happening, so they assert control through aggression.

Dr Rick Brinkjman and Dr Rick Krisher labelled this profile “the Tank” in their best seller “dealing with people you can’t stand”.

“When you’re under attack by the Tank, you’ve been targeted as part of the problem.”

Being a Tank does not make a person a bad person.
The Tank is task-orientated fast-paced person under a lot of stress.
They show their love by getting things done.
They get frustrated when things don’t get done fast.
Once frustrated they start looking for the source of the blockage and try to remove or fix it. There is nothing subtle about how they do it.
The next day is a new day and all is forgiven.

So how do you handle them?

The first step is to watch your emotions – these will become your greatest weakness when dealing with a task orientated person.

Typical unsuccessful responses to a Tank attack are;

  • Whilst you may win this battle, you won’t win the war.
    The tank will most likely escalate, building alliances and blow you out of the water.
  • Unfortunately the tank does not have any interest in excuses, they just want results. Defending will most likely make them attack more.
  • You must avoid at all costs being seen as wimpy.
    Fear is a signal to the tank that it is your entire fault and you deserve the pounding they are giving you.

Your goal is to command respect

The tank wants the problem solved quickly.
You need to show that you can take control and solve the problem.


  1. Hold your ground.
    Don’t even change your position. If you are sitting, leaning, standing, or in between, don’t change. Instead turn and look the tank in the eyes and take a slow deep breath. Wait for the blasting to stop.
    Ask if this there is anything else. Let the tank run out of ammunition.
    This sends a message that you’re focussed on your job and the tank is the distraction.
  2. Interrupt the attack.
    Whether they are yelling or not, the best way to get a person’s attention is to say their name, over and over, clearly and firmly until they stop attacking.
    Even if they say don’t interrupt me. It may take five of six tries.
  3. Quickly backtrack to their main point.
    Tanks want the situation over and done with as quickly as you do.
    Let them know that you understand what they have said.
    “I understand that you think the project should be already finished”
  4. Aim for the bottom line and FIRE off your solution!
    “From my point of view the time I am investing in it will save time and money in the future.”
  5. Peace with honour.
    Without a peaceful solution, the Tank will take your solution as a challenge and keep attacking. You must redirect to a peaceful solution.
    Offer them the last word – but you decide where and when.
    Examples could be:
    “When I am though with making my presentation, I’ll be more than happy to hear your feedback”,
    “When you are ready to talk to me with respect, I’ll be ready to discuss this matter.”

    You most likely will get a parting shot from them, but they will move on. Don’t be surprised if they become your ally in the future.

Looking for more ways to improve your ability to manage others?

Daryl Keeley offers a suite of leadership workshops designed to improve your ability to lead and inspire your team. These workshops are practical fun events run as small groups allowing attendees to gain maximum benefit.

Attendees gain a better understanding of their own leadership style and ways to improve their ability to manage others.

Businesses owners report that their attendees have an increased sense of the value of their team and are better at extracting higher performance from them.

Contact Daryl on 1300 083 488 for more information.