Archive for October, 2013

You Can Make it Difficult to be Difficult

lightbulbWhy do bullies bully? Because it works. Why do controlling people manipulate others? Because they get what they want that way. It is easy to be difficult. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Bullying is rife in our society and we wring our hands about it, but we often make it far too easy for controllers and manipulators to succeed.

When my son was in primary school, I heard many local teachers and administrators express concern about bullying. They often ended their remarks with, “but what can we do about it?” There seems to be a pervasive belief that adults cannot change this behavior and that children need extensive education to desist from it.

It was an eye-opener for me, then, when I sent my boy to a summer day camp at a private school. Here were hundreds of boys, playing sports together all day, competing with each other and behaving toward each other in a very civilized manner. This fascinated me. I knew some of these boys were cruel to each other in their regular classes, but at the camp, no one got put upon. My son verified that everyone was kind and polite. No one was teased. No one was called a name.

As I observed this phenomenon, I saw that boys were coached to behave, catechized in good sportsmanship and rewarded for their good behavior. The impulse to bully, tease or be unkind was addressed immediately. The impulse to share, be honest, or help was rewarded just as immediately with a badge.

The boys loved their badges and pinned them all over their hats. My son could tell me how he had earned each one. Those badges are still around after 15 years. I have a very fond memory of hearing my very competitive child tell me about the badge he had won that day.  He received it when he had stopped in the middle of a tussle over a piece of sports equipment, realized the other boy wanted it just as much as he did, and handed it over to that boy.

This was important learning that the camp directors and counselors had been encouraging consistently all along.  I have discovered that we can apply these principles to bullying in the office, in the home, even when the bully employs us or pays our bills. There are ways we can subtly exert power, avoid being controlled and encourage civility.

Toxic People Play by Different Rules

Toxic people don’t play by your rules of give and take. You can make sense of their behavior when you recognize it is competitive not collaborative. Its purpose is to get the upper hand.

Here are some clues that you are dealing with a toxic person.

• You feel confused after your interactions with this person.
• Conflicts are never resolved. The toxic often declare a discussion closed while you are still struggling with it. No compromise is reached, or worse; you find yourself apologizing after their outburst.
• You feel depressed or depleted after spending time with this person.
• When you are feeling good, or enjoying success, the toxic may attempt to deflate you with a subtle put down or an argument.
• If you are feeling bad, the toxic person is likely to have a crisis that is more urgent than your problem and demands your attention.
• Difficult people demand your attention; interrupting your wedding or your mother’s funeral with their routine problems.
• They become inappropriately angry. A toxic coworker may turn red and look daggers at you as you express an inoffensive opinion.

Toxic people live in a different reality than you do. If you assume they are being rational, you will try and try to understand them or explain yourself so they’ll understand you. But the toxic person doesn’t want to come to any understanding except that you are at fault when they feel bad.

Once you know who is toxic you protect yourself from their poison. If you are involved with a toxic, difficult person, check out my upcoming class: Emotional Freedom from Difficult People. Learn easy, safe techniques for feeling better fast and being less susceptible.

You may want to sit out this dance.

birds (2)

As I design my upcoming online course Emotional Freedom from Difficult People, and attempt to write about my personal experience on a daily basis, I am faced with the most basic question: Why do I concern myself with difficult people?

Why deal with difficult people at all? Why not just avoid them? But how many of us can leave a job, right now, because the boss has no empathy? Not all of us are willing to sever ties with a parent who doesn’t respect our boundaries or drop a class in our degree program because the instructor is a tyrant.

Wherever I go, I find people who want to engage in battles of will. I am far from alone in this experience. I am morally opposed to the notion that I must submit to these people or make them submit to me.

Those of us, who desire to see a more collaborative spirit prevail, must act on the desire. Abusive control and bullying is rife in our society. It is widespread because it gets the results the tyrant wants. When will it stop? It will stop when it no longer works.

I have discovered ways that most of us, much of the time, can step out of the dance of victim and tyrant and make bullying generally less profitable.

Are You Here to Share Your Gifts…or to Suffer a Petty Tyrant?

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photo pin cc

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photo pin cc

I’m pretty sure that God did not put us on this planet at this time in our evolution so that we could look over our shoulders, compulsively check every task, distrust our own judgment and hide our talents under a bushel of second guessing the petty tyrants in our lives. But that’s what happens if we work for, date or marry a controlling person.

My friend Dina is the most confident person I know. When I want to evince confidence, I think of Dina. A few years ago Dina worked for a woman who turned out to be confusing and explosive. She gave directions and later denied having given them; accusing Dina of being confused. Dina was confused alright. As this behavior escalated Dina resorted to recording conversations and double and triple checking her work.

When Dina found a new job, she verified instructions and double checked her work. It really slowed her down and sapped her energy. She had been insidiously conditioned to distrust herself. Eventually Dina remembered that she was the most efficient person in the Lower Peninsula and reclaimed her gifts and skills. Soon she had a new problem. Her fellow employees suggested she should slow down.

Many of us can tell a story like Dina’s. That’s why I am offering Emotional Freedom from Difficult People, an online class starting in November.

I would change the petty tyrant for you if I could, but I can’t. I can teach you to manage your thoughts and feelings so that you feel okay. You can get rid of that facial twitch and sleep all night. You can interrupt the unconscious patterns that make a person difficult. And, you can interrupt your own patterns that keep you in lock-step with such people.

This is not assertiveness training. I do not give you a script. I teach you skills that enable you to determine the mental and emotional climate you live in – no matter where you are or with whom!

Difficult People are Actually Quite Predictable

Angry hissing catI have determined to offer a weekly class called Emotional Freedom from Difficult People. My business coach challenged me to blog about it every day. “Do people want to hear about this every day?” I wondered.

They do if they are dealing with difficult people, and way too many of us are. No one dares speak of the difficult people who have a positive knack for landing in management positions in the most socially responsible organizations. But we have all gone through periods of early morning wakefulness, confusion about interactions with the boss, or dreading a certain co worker.

Difficult people creep into our personal lives too. Which of us has not dated Bluebeard’s brother at some point? Some of us were raised by a Screaming Mimi or Seething Sam, or we dated Prince Charming only to have him magically turn into a frog when we kissed him.

So what do you need to know to keep your sanity and serenity with these folks? Difficult people are actually quite predictable when you understand what makes them — make you tic. There are tools and techniques that will help.

You need to know what you are up against and why this person’s behavior confuses you. You can learn, pretty easily, to stop the energy drain from difficult people and even to benefit from their controlling dynamics. You cannot change them, but you can influence their behavior, get them out of your head and give yourself some space to be at peace.

Check out Emotional Freedom from Difficult People and consider taking the series or dropping in for individual sessions of this online class that starts November 7.

New Class in November: Emotional Freedom from Difficult People


I consulted with my PR and Marketing coach last week and told her of my dream to offer a class each week, teaching people to use intuitive tools and techniques to deal with the difficult people in their lives.  She asked a question that I think all great innovators ask:  “Why not just do it right now?”

Why indeed?  There’s a bit of prep time to outline curriculum, but I know the material I want to offer.  There’s a bit of infrastructure needed to offer classes.  I need the software to meet online or by phone.  What I need most, is you, and others like you who want to know how to find Emotional Freedom from Difficult People.

I will offer this weekly workshop, beginning November 7, from 7-8:30 p.m. ET, for six weeks (not counting 11/28.)  It will be held online so you can join in from anywhere you like (you can wear your pajamas.)  If you are interested you can take the whole six sessions.  If you are busy, you can pick one or a few.

This is an experiential class.  You will practice the mental and emotional tools and techniques to manage how you think and feel.  That means you will build skills and not just information.  It also means that you will probably feel terrific after class.

  • November 7  Dynamics of Difficult Relationships – Understanding what you are up against, why being rational won’t work, learn about helpful resources.  
  • November 14  Why Your Problems aren’t What You Think – Most of the problem with difficult people has an unconscious source.  How to find it, drag it into the light of day, and work with it.
  • November 21  Benefitting from Bullies – Don’t let the difficult deplete your energy.  You can be energized by difficult interactions if you master one physical state.
  • December 5 Maintaining Your Space and Your Balance – You can wash that controlling person right out of your hair with simple mental tools.
  • December 12 Serenity – your power lies in being centered, serene and unruffled.  But how do you do that? Come find out.
  • December 19 Communicating with the Unconscious – Difficult people are often not so much bad as unconscious.  Learn how to reach them on that level and create freedom from their control.

$27 per individual session $150 for all six.  Email me at and I will send an invoice for the classes you wish to attend.  You will receive an invitation prior to each class which will enable you to access the session.

Mrs. High and Mighty Enlightens You About the Enlightened Response to Unenlightened Interaction

Those who would put you down, often give you the exact information you need to rise above them!

Analyzing verbal abuse, I find that helpful ideas and instructions are frequently built right into the tirade. If we don’t get too caught up in the unfair or unkind things that are said, these bits of useful communication stand out starkly against the nasty noise. They are often the only sensible part of what is said.

I once reported to a manager who expressed his temper violently; throwing a wastebasket or kicking the copier. When my co worker objected to his management style, he said “Tell someone who gives a d—!”

Good idea.

My coworker was wise enough to hear the useful information. He immediately told someone who gave a d— and encouraged the rest of us to do the same. That manager was gone within a week.

I had a friend who refused to even consider liking, much less reading my blog because she didn’t like the name “Enlightened.” She urged me to change the name, saying it was the worst of New Age nonsense. When I asked her how she would feel if I critiqued her business without knowing about it, she said, “You’re too sensitive. I’m trying to help you. Why do you take my comments seriously?”

Why indeed?

hindu-kaliSomeone I once knew, whom I shall refer to as Old Yeller, was prone to tantrums, directed at me, with yelling, name calling, and foul language. He indicted me as Mrs. High and Mighty. “Mrs. High and Mighty doesn’t like toothpaste on the wall.  Mrs. High and Mighty doesn’t like my clothes on the dining room table!”

“Mrs. High and Mighty” is the perfect persona to adopt when someone tries to cow me with tantrums. I’m seeing Mrs. H & M as the goddess Kali – you know, the one who wears a necklace of skulls and props her foot on a severed head – or perhaps the goddess Enuphalredae, who is often depicted paying a high powered divorce attorney.

Mrs. H & M doesn’t permit anyone to yell at her unless a truck is bearing down on her or the house is on fire!

Good idea.

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