Category Archives: blog

How to deal with difficult people

Struggling with difficult people? Try this out

We all have people in our lives who we would rather not have to spend time with. Many of the professionals I work with struggle to protect themselves from the ‘noise’ that comes from domineering or interfering personalities and this technique is often a brilliant way of helping them hold their ground.

Human beings are flawed and imperfect and we can’t be best buddies with everyone. If I was going to be trapped in a lift with Boris Johnson the consequences would probably be pretty dire. If there is someone in your life who you find rude, aggressive, irritating, arrogant or just downright draining, there is a very simple way you can protect yourself from the impact they have on you.

Once you familiarise yourself with this tip, you’ll be able manage your interactions with this difficult person more easily. You’ll also find yourself less caught up in potentially defensive thoughts and behaviours which are probably hindering you in having a more positive relationship than you might have thought possible.

Step one – the shield of protection

Step one is all about you creating a safe space from which you can speak to this difficult person. All you need to do is:

  1. Close your eyes for a moment.
  2. If you could imagine a shield which would allow you to see and hear someone safely, but their words could somehow disappear or bounce off your shield as they come towards you, what would that look like?
  3. Take all the time you need to become familiar with your shield – what colour is it, is it transparent, is it moving or still? Do you have a feeling that comes with it? Is there a sound that comes with this shield? What do you notice about it that means it feels particularly safe?
  4. Now imagine speaking to the person in question from behind this shield, noticing how much safer you feel now that you’re behind it.
  5. If this person says something to you that you find rude, aggressive or hurtful, imagine their words either bouncing off your shield or somehow being destroyed so you don’t need to feel their impact
  6. Practice this in your mind at least a couple of times so that you have more confidence using it in the real world

You can get really creative with your shield of protection. I’ve had clients create transparent bubbles, rings of fire, an electric fence, a brick fortress – the possibilities are endless. Just allow your imagination create the shield that would feel safest for you.

Stage 2 – put your compassion hat on

We all have moments when we behave imperfectly. And we all have moments when we wish we hadn’t said or done certain things. A principle I strongly believe in is this: everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have at the time. By ‘resources’ I mean emotional resources – when we’re feeling happy, relaxed, creative and calm we tend to behave in a more resourceful and positive way than when we’re stressed, tired, anxious or sad.

If you were to reflect on times when you behaved in a way that didn’t feel like you, what was going on for you at that time? Were you having a bad day? Was there something worrying you? Did you simply not have the maturity or knowledge at that time that would have allowed you to act differently?

This isn’t an exercise in condoning rude or offensive behaviour. It is simply about appreciating where other human beings might be coming from if they are behaving in a negative way.

So the second part of this exercise is to put your compassion hat on and simple being open to the question of “I wonder what’s going on for this person that means they believe they have to behave in this way?” We are all fellow strugglers, even if the difficult person you have in mind appears to be an entitled, spoilt, arrogant brat. They are still walking this path of what it means to be a human being.

Practice makes perfect

Practice this a few times over the course of a couple of weeks and see how it works for you. The more you practice it, the easier it will become. For some of my clients this approach has made all the difference in managing their energy and maintaining healthy boundaries in their relationships.

I would love to hear how you get on and how it impacts on your relationships, both at work or at home.

Contact me

I frequently work with professionals who have to manage and juggle challenging relationships both at work and at home. I help them maintain better boundaries, prioritise their self-care and learn how to trust themselves more. If this is something you’re struggling with then please don’t suffer in silence and get in touch for a free, no obligation conversation to see how you can move forward.

Fear, self-doubt and rejection: an experience that unites us all

A Confidence Masterclass Last Saturday I had  a wonderful time co-running  a ‘Singing With Confidence Masterclass’ . 12 brave ladies shared the symptoms of performance nerves they experienced including sickness, sweating, dry mouths and running to the toilet. The collective relief in the room grew as we shared the ‘thing’ we felt when we performed.… Continue Reading

Feeling stuck or dissatisfied?

Why the path to fulfilment is something bigger than you My late teens were one of the happiest periods of my life. Having minimal responsibility and maximum time to have fun probably had something to do with it. More importantly, I was a member of a church community at that time. Christianity is not a… Continue Reading

Christmas Stress SOS

Battling Christmas Stress? Here’s my guide for navigating through the most wonderful time of the year Christmas is a great example of how our perception and memories shape our reality. Say the word ‘tinsel’ to two people and one will widen their eyes in festive delight, whilst the other will slowly curl into a ball… Continue Reading

3 signs of burn-out and what you can do about it

Are you on the road to burn-out? In one of my recent workshops a participant commented that she always realises that she’s burned-when it’s too late. There always seems to be a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ moment when she shouts at her partner for no reason or comes down with a cold. I… Continue Reading

What’s missing for your happiness?

The Pleasant Life ‘Happiness’ can be an elusive and slippery concept. The majority of us know we want it but we probably mean slightly different things when we talk about it. Some might talk about ‘highs’ and ‘pleasure’, whilst others talk of a deeper ‘contentment’ or fulfilment that seems to go further than fleeting emotional… Continue Reading

Why challenge equals happiness

Do you long for an ‘easier’ life? Have you deliberately positioned yourself at times so that you avoid challenge, learning or stress? For example: When you have a couple of hours free at work do you a) aimlessly fill it with boring non-urgent admin, making tea for people or clearing out your desk? Or b)… Continue Reading

Trapped in your head?

How to stop over-thinking Do you sometimes feel trapped in your own head? Do you find that your thoughts sometimes swirl around your mind, hindering your ability to make decisions or take action? Overthinking is something I often wrestle with during difficult times and comes up regularly with the clients that I work with. I… Continue Reading

Mental health at work – a working revolution

Survey shows that half of us won’t tell employers about mental health at work   When it comes to discussing our mental health at work, half of us would rather keep things under wraps, a recent survey has shown. Given that the workplace is where most of us spend the majority of our time, its… Continue Reading