Dealing with Difficult People

Techniques for handling difficult people with tact and skill

1-Day Seminar - US $99.00; For groups of 5 or more, 89.00

Do you know how to work with difficult people? How many of these personalities do you recognize?
• • • • • •
The Know-It-Alls They're arrogant and usually have an opinion on every issue. When they're wrong, they get defensive. The Passives These people never offer ideas or let you know where they stand. The Dictators They bully and intimidate. They're constantly demanding and brutally critical. The Gripers Is anything ever right with them? They prefer complaining to finding solutions. The "Yes" People They agree to any commitment, yet rarely deliver. You can't trust them to follow through. The "No" People They are quick to point out why something won't work. Worse, they're inflexible.

Of course you recognize them. They're the people you work with, sell to, depend on, live with. Learn to deal with them quickly and confidently at Dealing with Difficult People.

Concrete techniques for dealing with difficult people in the workplace and at home
Never again fall victim to those who love to make life miserable for the rest of us. This training gives you concrete techniques for dealing with difficult people in the workplace and at home. It provides specific strategies for getting adversaries to cooperate ... bullies to back off ... wallflowers to open up ... chronic complainers to quiet down. Knowing how to deal with difficult people at work will allow you to approach your job with more enjoyment and your coworkers with greater confidence. Cooperation, collaboration, and compromise will improve — and that makes for a more productive and efficient workplace for everyone.

How this program is structured...
It's structured for maximum learning. You'll experience a carefully designed combination of:

Informative presentation

Your trainer is skilled at sharing information in a way that's engaging. Just sit back and take it all in.

Practice exercises You'll do some of these alone, and others with groups or a partner. Don't worry — no one will be singled out or embarrassed.

Group discussion Get your questions answered. Share your point of view. These are some of the most stimulating segments of the program.

"... lots of practical info! I'm excited about developing my plan of action, and will look at my coworkers in a different, more open-minded and caring way." Denise Weaver, senior benefits specialist

Dealing with Difficult People — Seminar Overview
• • • •
Understand the difficult people in your life Know how to communicate with difficult people Be less of a target for difficult people Bring out the best in even the most difficult people

Understand the difficult people in your life
Learn how they think, what they fear, why they do what they do. Understanding these things makes dealing with difficult people less frustrating.
• • • • • • • "Mapping" difficult people to gain insight into what makes them tick The most common mistake well-intentioned people make that actually worsens conflicts What a team can do with a person who isn't a team player The single best response to sarcasm 3 ways to get people to keep their word How to deal with a person who practices one-upmanship When to go to a third party for help in dealing with a problem person

Know how to communicate with difficult people
At this seminar, you'll concentrate on here's-how-you-do-it techniques. You'll leave knowing how to use these techniques in specific situations when dealing with difficult people in the workplace.
• • • • What to do when someone — even a boss — starts yelling What to do when someone takes credit for your idea How to determine if a difficult relationship is worth salvaging, and what to do if it isn't The best way to get someone to stop holding a grudge

• • • •

Handling the person who says one thing to you but the opposite to someone else When and how to go over someone's head to a superior Dealing with touchy people who take things personally How to get your boss to quit procrastinating and make a decision

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Be less of a target for difficult people
Look at the difficult people in your life. Chances are, at least one person manages to get along with them. You can, too. Learn how to derail problem people and teach them to treat you with respect.
• • • • • How to cope with excuse-makers and blamers What to do immediately when someone threatens you 3 tactics that prevent you from being manipulated by others Hot buttons: how to keep people from pushing yours "The boss's favorite": how to cope with the person who's perfect in the boss's eyes — but doesn't really do a fair share of the work

Bring out the best in even the most difficult people
Let's face it, nobody's difficult all the time (and everybody is some of the time). Your new skills will help you reinforce positive behavior in even the most difficult people — at work and at home.
• • • • • How to handle a coworker who is too competitive How to handle someone who wants to get "too personal" What to do when people make promises you suspect they won't keep How to give an aggressive person an alternative to direct conflict The special body positions to use in dealing with specific kinds of difficult people (your body language can be even more powerful than what you say) • Special for managers: how to deal with employees who don't keep commitments ... have a negative attitude ... or are closed-minded

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1999 .Find a Seminar Near You USA A CANAD State search Prov POSTAL CODE (US. By changing our attitude toward them and changing our viewpoint about what makes them "wrong" we can find a wealth of knowledge to improve our own ability to work with people. In the business world. There is great value to be gained when we take the time to try to understand another’s viewpoint. rather than a conscious desire to be difficult. the difficult person is someone who is working from the negative side of their personality.Dealing with Difficult People What Makes People "Difficult"? Symptom: The "Know it All" Symptom: "Do It My Way or Else!" Tips for Dealing with Others Tips for Supervisors Tips for Overcoming Negative Aspects in Yourself Resources (links. we are constantly faced with trying to work with others who may challenge our ability to get things done. . articles. books. or Canada) + 60 short search Miles Back to top Bottom of Form March. UK. humor) Printer-friendly version Dealing with Difficult People What makes people "difficult"? Usually. They also don't realize how harmful their actions are to their own career success. The person is often unaware of themselves and how they affect others.

often learned in childhood when parents constantly criticize a child for not being good enough. This defense protects them for a while. blah. we will highlight others. you may ask what you think is a simple question and get a response that is something like "how DARE you question me or my judgment!" Or. No matter what anyone says or does. Symptom: They know it all. Arrogance is a defense against vulnerability and insecurity. blah. but everyone else sees that it is false. why it shouldn’t be done that way. . Many other professions share the trait. you give up trying to work with them. software developers. this person will force their . 2. they lose credibility and respect — the thing they fear most. you make a suggestion and get a ton of excuses why that is not true. . This symptom is a manifestation of Arrogance. 3. Example: As a business user of computers. 4. People refuse to deal with them People don’t believe what they say People think they really don’t know their job They may be fired eventually because of their attitude. Symptom: Do it my way.This article addresses a couple personality aspects that are common in the workplace. Eventually. that they immediately throw up a defensive shield against any possible attack. The results of arrogance and defensiveness: 1. In future articles. especially prevalent in technical people. We see it often in computer programmers. or else!! This is another well recognized trait that seems prevalent in people in management positions or positions of corporate power. In the end. We draw on our Personality Game to highlight these personality traits. doctors and attorneys. so don’t dare to question them This is a well-recognized trait. blah . The person is so afraid of being seen as unworthy or incompetent. engineers. why the person is an expert in their field.

They may be fired because of their bad decisions and poor leadership abilities. Example: In a meeting. they can be quite effective and charming. People will not tell them the truth or provide them with vital information that might help them make better decisions 3. recognize that it is useless to argue with . causing them great humiliation and complete loss of control over events. Many people operating from this negative position are fired publicly. people will FEEL as if someone punched them in the stomach when the person lets loose with their verbal abuse. People learn to ignore or discount their opinions or decisions 4. The positive side of Dominance is Leadership. This symptom is at it's worst when the person’s primary role is Warrior or King. this person will strongly make it clear that their suggestions are not wanted. Things MUST be done this person’s way or else. everyone gives up trying to work with them. stress or insecurity may bring on the attack. When this person is relaxed and working from the positive side of their personality. If they happen to also have Power mode combined with Dominance. if someone offers a suggestion. Tips for dealing with negative aspects in others: 1. This symptom is a negative aspect of Dominance: Dictatorship. this person will crush any attempts to deal rationally with the situation. those who have been subjected to their tyranny are joyous in celebrating their defeat. If you try to make a point. It may seem to come without warning or you may be able to see the stress building up. The results of domineering people: 1. Eventually. the person loses their ability to control events — the thing they fear most.ideas on everyone else. People will avoid implementing their ideas and subvert their authority (consciously or unconsciously) 5. People will avoid them or refuse to deal with them 2. As with Arrogance. When you see someone go into attack mode or excess defensiveness. In the end. There can be no open discussion or involvement. Needless to say.

Realize that the person is feeling very insecure at that time. Don’t continue to push them because they will only get worse. When you catch yourself feeling defensive. This will give you time to work with the question/comment/suggestion without the pressure of being on the spot. 7. Help the person see how much their negative behavior is damaging their career potential. Try to understand what others are saying by repeating back what you think you heard. . 4. Learn to recognize when your defensive mechanisms come up. 6. Realize that you are probably not really being attacked. 2. If it does not improve within a reasonable time. wait until another time to pursue the discussion. Learn how to listen when someone asks a question or makes a suggestion. If the symptoms only seem to occur when the person is under stress. Tips for supervising people with negative aspects: 1. them. You may want to ask for more time to respond. Ask people to re-state their question/comment/suggestion. 5. you may need to find another person to work with who does not have the same problem. 3. 7. 3. then get back to them. don’t react so quickly. Keep your own sense of self-confidence and don't allow yourself to be verbally abused. 5. 6. If the difficult person is your boss. 2. send them packing. DO consider that other people have good ideas that are just as valid as yours. Tips for overcoming negative aspects in yourself: 1.2. 4. reconsider whether it's time to find a job elsewhere. Set goals for them to learn to work better with others and monitor their behavior until it improves. 3. If they are always overly defensive or always attacking others.

605 Third Avenue. 11. Suzette Haden Elgin. Ph. (March 1997) ISBN: 0471157058 • Genderspeak: Men. Don Gabor. ISBN 0-671-79505-8 . Elgin has a series of books on this subject) John Wiley & Sons.thericks. 14. Suzette Elgin has written several books on communication. coworker.D. 13. New York. NY 101580012..Learn to understand your own personality and your unique strengths and weaknesses. Women.D. (Dr. Ph.Don't give up on yourself. Take courses or workshops in listening skills and teambuilding. Suzette Haden Elgin.8.com/ — Book "Dealing with people you can't stand" • . 12. ask them to let you know when you are being a jerk and call your attention to what you are doing.If it is someone that you interact with regularly. ISBN: 0471580163 • Internet Resources The Personality Game — Overview of the system • The Game Board — Shows the positive and negative aspects of the personality traits • http://www. • The Gentle Art of Verbal SelfDefense. 1994. Published by Fireside (a division of Simon & Schuster). 9. That will help you learn to see what situations and events trigger your insecurity. Books Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations. John Wiley & Sons Inc. and the Gentle Art of Verbal SelfDefense. 1993. 10. Find someone who can help you work on this negative aspect of yourself — a good friend.The effort to improve your ability to get along with others will be rewarded as you find more career opportunities open up for you. teacher or counselor.Recognize that changing learned patterns of insecurity and defensiveness may take years of work.

Articles • • • • • • • • • • Dealing with Difficult People (Recognizing & Working with Personality Dragons) September 2003 Newsletter article http://stressdoc.Good for a lot of laughs! • http://www.peoplesuccess.net/rbc/cj/cj-11-21-95.org/chapters/swohio/swohio81/ — Slide presentation: Coping with Difficult People http://workforce. • http://spiritslaughing.com/mar99.com/news/week60/dpeople.gsfc.itstime.html — The Fun Standard.pmi.wellmedia. updated 1999 version • http://www.html — Tips for dealing with difficult people http://www. Lillian Glass.jerk.livinginternet. author of "Toxic People" and "Attracting Terrific People" http://www.gospelcom.gov/c2e.html — Tips for dealing with difficult people http://www.stressdoctor.com/ — Clean jokes.htm — The Stress Doctor: Attitude Therapy http://www.com/DifficultPeople.com/ — Spirituality and Humor — a fun place to visit. unrelated to the current topic. This page is http://www. changes daily.com/HOD2/general/stress-DIFFICUL-2.htm — The Stress Doc: "Managing Difficult Situations and Challenging People" http://www.com/fun/funstandard.html — Difficult People Humor http://www.html — How to Deal with Difficult People http://www.com/glass.ttpm.nasa.dailyfix.net/ — Jerk Net .htm Printerfriendly version • Page updated: .htm — Dr.html — Tips for dealing with difficult people http://www2.com/attitude.susankramer.com/difficult.

2. Your Guide to Stress Management. If the o tries to engage you in a discussion that will probably become an argument. However. Remember that you don't have to be close with everyone.co. Try to look for the positive aspects of others. If they’re continually abusive. and do so.authentic-breathing. Get your needs met from others who are able to meet your needs.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Steven Gans. don’t try to change the other person.uk Reduce Stress TodaySafe. or affection from someone who isn’t able to give it. MD Research shows that supportive relationships are good for our mental and physical health. rely on a flake. But what do you do if the person in question is a family member. process your feelings through journaling. powerful breathing exercises for stress reduction & managementwww. 7.mentoringandcoaching. you may consider switching jobs.com 5. cause defensi 3.) Tips: 1. Know when it’s time to distance yourself. or someone you otherwise can’t easily elimina life? The following are tips for dealing with difficult people who are in your life. M. Don’t tell your secrets to a gossip. change the subject or leave the room. Rely on people who have proven themselves to be trustworthy and This will help you and the other person by taking pressure off the relationship and removing a source of conflict. mi contact may be key. If the other person can’t be around you without antagonizing you. However. For example. you will only get into a power struggle. (If the offending party is a boss or co-worker. 6. don’t pretend the other person’s negative traits don’t exist. dealing with difficult people a ongoing negative relationships is actually detrimental to our health. this is all you have the power to change.lifes2short. Explain what needs to happ ever is to be a relationship. criticism. 2. Be sure to cultivate other more positive relationships in your life to offset the negativity of dealing with difficult people.difficulties will roll off your back much more easily.How To Become Adept at Dealing With Difficult People and Avoiding Conflict From Elizabeth Scott.com Life's 2 ShortTake the stress out of your life We'll help you with everythingwww. Do you do any of them? 4. like religion and politics. . and let it go. Try not to place blame on yourself or the other person for the negative interactions. It’s a good idea to diminish or eliminate relationships that are fi conflict. The other person w appreciated. 3. Keep your sense of humor -. Change your response to the other person. and you will likely enjoy your time together more. Remember that most relationship difficulties are due to a dynamic between two people rather than one person being unila Sponsored Links How to be a Good LeaderBuild effective leadership skills to achieve success in life and workwww. or otherwise make things worse. it's best to cut ties and let them know why.. Sign Up Now! About. This is part of accepting them for who they are. Tell your secrets to a trustworthy friend who's a good l 8. Avoid discussing divisive and personal issues. Shows like "The Office" and books like D 4. or other issues that tend to cause conflict. for example. It may just be a case of your two pers poorly. It also makes you a more difficult person to deal with. for better or for worse: Difficulty: Average Time Required: Ongoing Here's How: 1. don’t feel you need to behavior. You can use assertive communication to draw boundaries when the other person chooses to treat you in an un way. Here’s a list of things to avoid in dealing with conflict. Naked can help you see the humor in dealing with difficult people. and focus on them. especially when dealing with family.S. In dealing with difficult people. FREE Newsletter. just being polite goes a long way toward getting along and app dealing with difficult people. co-worker.

KeepMenInterested.Tim Allen Christmas with .com Resolve Workplace StressGain Control and Enjoy Your Job How To Guide.co. 2007 Suggested Reading Quiz: What's Your Conflict Resolution Style?More On Dealing With Difficult People: Unwanted AdviceDifferent Types of Unsolicite AdviceHealthy Communication TechniquesTake The Social Assessment Quiz Related Articles Conflict Resolution. resentments fester. Your Brain Takes Care of it All. trust and support.weekendwarriorsguide. Relation&. increasing intimacy. It's much healthier to address and resolve conflict. some people just don’t say anything to Related Sites their partner until they’re ready to explode.. The converse is also true: poor communication can weaken bonds.VnV Nation Interview (Par..www... and then blurt it out in an angry. Get your Free Meditation CD today!www. creating mistrust The Type A Pers Your Body25 Str and even contempt! Here are some examples of negative and even destructive attitudes and communication patterns that can exacerbate conflict in a relationship..net Women Relationship Advice7 fatal mistakes most women make to mess up every relationship.MasteringWorkplaceStre Top 10 Conflict Resolution and Communication Skills From Your Guide.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Steven Gans..uk How To Stop ConflictCommunication Secrets Of Conflict Management For Great RelationshipsEarthlingCommunication.An Open Letter to Any Wou.WellnessArticles. Sponsored Links PMR Mediation Trainers UKWorkplace Mediation public courses and conflict training for managerswww. and a much bigger argument eventually results.www.. Elizabeth Scott About. Step By Step Solutionwww.Kirsten Duns Sponsored Links Learn Meditation EasilyIncrease focus & eliminate stress.More How To's from your Guide To Stress Management Updated: November 15.centerpointe. as tensions Panic Disorders rise. This seems to be the less Headaches & Mi stressful route—avoiding an argument altogether—but usually causes more stress to both parties. How many of these sound like something you’d do? 1.com/meditation/ Stress Effects on BodyFight or Flight.com Body position for skiingUse our simple techniques to ski like a pro. hurtful way.com Cholesterol R Manage Your Ch QuizLow Choles .workplacemediation. respectful manner. MD Newsletters & RS Most Popula Conventional wisdom (and research) says that good communication can improve relationships. Avoiding Conflict Altogether: Rather than discussing building frustrations in a calm.www..

sometimes people defensively stonewall. in certain situations. even if you don’t like the behavior. “You always…” and “You never…”. if a woman wants to discuss a problem with the relationship. assess the needs of both parties and come up with a solution that helps you both. 4. if a husband leaves his socks lying around. and don’t take it as a personal attack if they have a different opinion. Being Defensive: Rather than addressing a partner’s complaints with an objective eye and willingness to understand the other WhyCreate an O person’s point of view. discounting their feelings. and increases the level of conflict.Marriage and GodLet God be the source Of love in your marriagewww. and that your way of seeing things is right. This shows disrespect and. Remember to respect the person. ‘controlling’ or ‘too demanding’. (For example. but creates hard feelings and damages relationships. Making Character Attacks: Sometimes people take any negative action from a partner and blow it up into a personality flaw. or. some blow it out of proportion by making sweeping generalizations. It’s much better to listen and discuss things in a respectful manner. Don’t demand that your partner see things the same way. your focused in the wrong direction! 9. and staying stuck in your point of view.com What's Hot 2. and rehearse what they’re going to say next instead of truly listening and attempting to understand their partner.) This creates negative perceptions on both sides. and keeps your partner from wanting to see yours! Don’t underestimate the importance of really listening and empathizing with the other person! 7. Instead. roll their eyes. They see admitting any weakness on their own part as a weakening of their credibility. and even try to shame them for being ‘at fault’. defensive people steadfastly deny any wrongdoing and work hard to avoid looking at the Home?Finding P possibility that they could be contributing to a problem. 8. as in. Also. “the relationship loses”! The point of a relationship discussion should be mutual understanding and coming to an agreement or resolution that respects everyone’s needs. Stonewalling: When one partner wants to discuss troubling issues in the relationship. labeling her ‘needy’.MarriageAndGod. This keeps you from seeing their point of view. Playing the Blame Game: Some people handle conflict by criticizing and blaming the other person for the situation. If you’re making a case for how wrong the other person is. Look for a compromise or agreeing to disagree. Phil says that if people are focused on ‘winning’ the argument. but creates long-term problems when partners don’t feel listened to and unresolved conflicts and continue to grow. while at the same time letting the underlying conflict grow. 5. Being Right: It’s damaging to decide that there’s a ‘right’ way to look at things and a ‘wrong’ way to look at things. and avoid it at all costs. and remember that there’s not always a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’. . Forgetting to Listen: Some people interrupt. "Psychoanalyzing" / Mind-Reading: Instead of asking about their partner’s thoughts and feelings. try to view conflict as an opportunity to analyze the situation objectively. Avoid starting sentences with. or that a tired partner is denying sex out of passive-aggressiveness. don’t bring up past conflicts to throw the discussion off-topic and stir up more negativity. Overgeneralizing: When something happens that they don’t like. even contempt. deciding a late mate doesn’t care enough to be on time.) This creates hostility and misunderstandings. looking it as a character flaw and label him ‘inconsiderate and lazy’. and that two points of view can both be valid. 10. This stands in the way of true conflict resolution. Trying to ‘Win’ The Argument: I love it when Dr. “You always come home late!” or “You never do what I want to do!” Stop and think about whether or not this is really true. people sometimes decide that they ‘know’ what their partners are thinking and feeling based only on faulty interpretations of their actions—and always assume it’s negative! (For example. or refuse to talk or listen to their partner. Denying responsibility may seem to alleviate stress in the short run. 6. Office Humor:Wh 3. Stonewalling solves nothing.

assessment...Tim Allen Christmas with .com Cadell's Tantric SexCreate the Intimacy you desire Discover what your partner wantseverlastinglovecourse..com/ Women Relationship Advice7 fatal mistakes most women make to mess up every relationship.com When confronted with the behavior of difficult people. it might be helpful (although difficult!) to follow these steps: 1.Stress and Conflict-Dealing Wi.com 13 Signs of BurnoutAvoiding Stress. Sponsored Links Learn Meditation EasilyIncrease focus & eliminate stress.com/meditation/ Is Your Sex Life Toxic?You're not alone. Depression and Burnout by expert Henry Neilswww.. Try to be non-judgmental and recognize that what they are sayi ng or doing makes sense to them....KeepMenInterested..IanKerner.Share This Resource With A Friend Created: June 21. 2007 Suggested Reading Healthy Conflict Resolution: The Benefits of AssertivenessGot Conflict? Assertive Communication in 5 Simple StepsConflict Resolution Skill #1: How to Be a Good Listener Related Guide Picks Top 10 Tension-Relieving Activities25 Ways to Reduce StressTop 5 Changes for a Low-Stress Lifestyle Other Related Resources & Guide Picks How to Create Truly Supportive RelationshipsHow and Why to Cultivate a Circle of Friends6 Great Ways to Start Your Day Related Articles Should We Take This Relationship &#..www. .centerpointe.An Open Letter to Any Wou. Get your Free Meditation CD today! www.. Actively listen to the difficult person. Take this quiz and rejuvenate your love life!www.VnV Nation Interview (Par.

it is important to plan for that meeting: 1. What is its impact on you? Your work performance? . Or I would prefer that you .2. 3. Describe the behavior. State your observation. appear neutral. My request is that you . if necessary. 5. Indicate your request. 4. Repeat the steps. Be silent. Or What I want is . Planning When confronting an employee about his/her difficult behavior. I feel/am when you because . react using an “I” statement. maintain eye contact.

” The Backstabber: Confront the person you think has talked about you behind your back. but imply that they can hurt or embarrass you. “I’m not totally comfortable with that plan. but they will sense that you aren’t vulnerable to those remarks and avoid them. but open to other viewpoints as well. but be firm. Give these employees the respect they are seeking. Make them feel important so they don’t have to run you down to life themselves up. What personal pitfalls will you need to overcome? How? The following are a few of the common types of difficult behavior by co-workers with tips on how to deal with them: Praise/Put Down Specialists: “That presentation was good. Determine whether the speaker has a valid point and consider how they will be affected by the action. Be convincing in expressing your viewpoint. what do you hope to accomplish? Is that realistic? 4. what reactions might you expect? How will you handle them? 5. I’ve been told that you said I did … Did you really say that? If so. Strongly opinionated colleagues: “The best way to do this is …” Try to stay professional. however these records suggest that we should …” The Intimidator: Intimidators don’t threaten directly. “I’d appreciate your clearing up some confusion. Competitors: Be professional and gracious. Be intervening. If you do intervene. Report what you heard. the person will respond by saying you misunderstood them. rather than emotional. Usually. . “I appreciate your enthusiasm on this program. I’d like you to explain it to me …” Don’t blame or point fingers. Present a poised and calm front—prepare responses that will get your point across without directly forcing the issue.” “I’m thinking about what you said.” Try to maintain your cool and get control of the conversation by questioning the offender about his/her inappropriate remarks. but don’t be argumentative. What are your reactions to the behavior? 3. You must have put some effort into it. Be honest in taking and giving credit.2.

When we think about a confrontation. Let your frustration go Recently. my 18-month-old computer died." I am totally frustrated at not having a computer. or call in to participate in interactive teleseminar. I prefer not to show my emotions. Browse through our extensive collection of tips and solutions. It had a hardware failure that my computer technician called "irreparable. along with anger and stress management. but not sure how? We are here to help! This website offers a wealth of resources on dealing with difficult people.. At work. you can arrange a full day or half-day training session in your office.More of Strange techniques to help you keep emotions in check Work less. live more .Have a difficult boss? Or a difficult mother-in-law? Need to confront somebody.. we think about handling the situation. and we tend not to think any further than that. If you think that your co-workers and boss would benefit from what you learn here.More of After the Confrontation Strange techniques to help you keep emotions in check I'm a pretty private person. The 'Rhonda' I take to work is not the same 'Rhonda I let my friends and family see. We assume. confrontation skills..... I may be a big marshmallow in my personal. More of "Let your frustration go" More Tips & Solutions > Tips & Solutions Confrontation Skills Difficult People at Home Difficult People at Work How to Deal with Anger Stress Management Latest Tips and Solutions: After the Confrontation 'Pretending' is a valid way to begin the healing process. at the expense. and most .

And it seems to me that every time I open a newspaper or watch the news.. 19 copies of each original document are made.. But on average today... I cheated on my husband and my children. 2008 more info . It started around 2001 and wasn't just for a few busy weeks either...More of UNCOMMON SENSE FOR ANGER Wednesday.. it went on for a couple of years. with my job.I once had an affair.More of A false sense of security UNCOMMON SENSE FOR ANGER Anger can be a self-destructive emotion when it's out of proportion to the situation and/or when it is inappropriately expressed. February 13th. Hardly a paperless society!.More of Work less. live more A false sense of security Remember when computers were introduced into the workplace? We were told we would have a paperless society... spending a significant.

when to say it. Tips to avoid crying.. practiced and mastered. things to say. screaming and blanking out Prepare yourself to say what you should say (and take the professional path. not the emotional one) How to give feedback in stressful situations Learn to keep your cool at the same time as confronting someone! Sign up to learn powerful strategies and techniques for dealing with those confrontations you've been avoiding! Reduce your stress. confidence and composure! If you are like most people when a situation requires you to say something. We'll discuss how to handle the confrontation. no more holding back from saying what you want to say. increase your effectiveness and repair the relationships damaged by the conflict. all the while being in complete control of yourself Keep your confidence high! Don't let them bully you into submission Keep your emotions in check.. you either lash out in anger. Confrontation Skills can be learned. how to say it. Learn professional confrontation skills that will allow you to maintain control."? Those days are over..Web Teleseminars Dealing With Difficult People Confrontation Skills How teleseminars work Confrontation Skills Length of the teleseminar: 1 hour Control. Do you ever walk away and say "I wish I had said . how to say them. Price of the workshop includes: 1. Live Q&A session following presentation . all while maintaining your composure and defusing anger for both of you. or say the wrong thing. Here's What You'll Learn: • • • • • • What to say. Executive Overview Document (emailed prior to session) 2. Confidence & Composure in the most highly charged situations! Learning to confront someone can be done easily and quickly! No more panic.

CSP – Canada’s Workplace Efficiency Expert! Date: Wednesday. Learn what to say and how to say it. upset or just plain rude and how to calm tense situations (improve your reputation as the professional and reduce your stress) Understand what motivates the attitudes and behaviours of difficult people (knowledge is power for future interactions) Techniques for giving feedback to difficult people to help correct or even improve their behaviour (make it easy for you) Learn to face life confidently. 1-800 access Your Presenter: Rhonda Scharf. this unique audio conference will show you ways to stop falling victim to those difficult people who love to make life miserable for the rest of us! Here's What You'll Learn: • • • • • 5 strategies for improving communication with difficult people (so you can end your frustration!) How to defuse people who are angry. Learn how to deal with conflict. 30 days unrestricted email coaching 5.00 CDN per dial in site (no limit attendance) Dealing With Difficult People Length of the teleseminar: 1 hour Dealing with difficult people on a daily basis can turn a dream job into a nightmare! As pressures in the workplace increase.3. problems and manipulation rather then spend your life being a victim! Price of the workshop includes: 1. MP3 download of session 4. Whether you have to handle a customer who shouts at you for doing your job or a team member who takes credit for your ideas. 2008 Time: 2pm EST Cost: Only $87. knowing you're up to any challenge (stop getting kicked around and increase your self-esteem) Sign up to learn powerful strategies and techniques for handling the difficult people in your work life. many office professionals are finding there are more difficult people to deal with on the job as well as in our personal lives. strategies for maintaining your composure while defusing angry people and what to do to improve your working relationship with people who challenge you to the limits of your patience. Executive Overview sent prior to session . February 13th.

so please don't pass around the call-in information :-) 4. Live Q&A during session 3. Toll Free access phone line Your Presenter: Rhonda Scharf.if you've been looking to offer inexpensive. MP3 download of session 4. You can call directly from any telephone. you can stop Rhonda at any time to ask. then put the date in your daytimer to remind yourself 2. March 13th. but I promise that it is simple! . It costs you only the $87 registration fee. but if you have access to a speakerphone. you can use that and your co-workers can join into the teleseminar without extra charge. The fee is per dial in telephone. this is your opportunity! How teleseminars work Not sure what a teleseminar is? It is as easy as 1-2-3 1. convenient. If you have questions. 30 days unlimited email coaching 5. 2 minutes prior to the workshop time. dial the toll free access number that Rhonda will send you. Rhonda will give you directions on how to use the phone. efficient and effective training for your staff.2. Register online. 2008 Time: 2pm EST Cost: $87. It is a simple telephone call. follow along with the "Executive Overview" Rhonda will send you. managers . CSP – Canada’s Workplace Efficiency Expert! Date: Thursday. 3. and as many people as you want can join you on the telephone call. on date of the teleseminar.00 CDN in site (no limit attendance) Attention.

engaging and fun.. Durham College “ Excellent.Wednesday. Spectrum Health “ I am pleased to say that staff found the content of the workshop very relevant and useful and your presentation dynamic. February 13th. Business Office and Communications Toronto Rehab Listen to the audio snippets Dealing with Difficult People teleseminar In extreme conflict situation How not to get angry back How not to cry Office Training . 2008 “ Rhonda kept things interesting .. useful material for day-to-day interactions” ~ Yvonne Clark . The impact is very encouraging.. ” ~ Barb Banick Manager...time flew by!! Filled with practical example” ~ Jana Hryhorka . Thunder Bay & District Health Unit “ The contents of this seminar will be put to work! Very useful presentation” ~ Kelly Bailey ..

Office Training Working with “Difficult” People Full day or half-day program . CSP – Canada’s Workplace Efficiency Expert! Rhonda Scharf calls it “Edutainment” (education + entertainment). This program addresses the science of difficult people. In this program you will lean how to work in more challenging environments by expanding your communication skills with all types of people that you encounter. Volume & Pacing Words that trigger!! 5 Steps to Ensure Communication Controlling Emotions Achieving Control Confrontation Skills Personality Styles • • Understand your own style. and what to do about it Communication Strategies Your Presenter: Rhonda Scharf. This science is translated into a host of proven tools and techniques for effectively dealing with them. They will enhance your ability to deal creatively and sensibly with the unique needs of your own difficult person. As the workplace becomes more stressful there seems to be more difficult people to deal with. Difficult People & Situations • • • • Difficult People and Conflict Prime Targets for Change Steps for Handling Difficult People Understanding Attitudes and Behaviour Communicating Professionally & Effectively • • • • • • • • It’s not “What you Say”. “It’s How you Say It”! Do you know the difference? Your actions speak louder than Words! Tips on “How to Speak” – your Inflection. She likes to say that she is allergic to .customized to your needs Never again fall victim to those who love to make life miserable for the rest of us! The ability to communicate effectively in the workplace has become a basic skill in today’s environment. Rhonda has a solid content core. and the styles of others – why they clash. but it is delivered in a relaxed and humorous style.

you should always look for the CSP designation . for women. Rhonda released a CD program entitled “How to Get Things Done When You’re Not in Charge!”.it guarantees you are getting a proven professional. 2006 was a busy year with the release of Rhonda's CD program “Dealing with Difficult People” and the just released book “Getting Things Done”. Tips. to attain success and balance in their lives. and very difficult to qualify for. and is the only Ottawa based recipient. the highest earned speaking designation in the world. You can find out more about Rhonda on her website dedicated to her motivational speaking and corporate training. When you hire Rhonda Scharf. participation from the audience. and applicable situations and examples. She will spend time discussing the audience in advance as well as do my own research to ensure that the program is completely applicable to everyone. It is a professional designation that is earned over a minimum of 5 years.lecture – and we will spend our time discussing the information in a very interactive environment. In Canada there are currently only 32 CSP award recipients. her second book became available in the United States through Insight Publishing called "Communication Skills”. Rhonda have also received CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) designation. with the names changed to protect the innocent!). you are getting a highly experienced speaker who has spoken in seven different countries and to literally tens of thousands of people. as well being listed in “Who’s Who in Professional Speaking”– 2008 edition (where she has been listed since 1998). The examples will be specific to the situations that the participants would encounter (and are often real examples. Rhonda was Canada’s third female to earn this designation. She like to use humour. the where and the how-to. Rhonda also sat on the board of the International Federation of Professional Speakers. Rhonda am also co-author of the book (September 2002) of “WOMEN SPEAK OUT” Strategies. She was the 2004 National President of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS). . In July 2003. Tools by women. Her experience has been that this allows everyone to picture themselves in each situation – and apply the information immediately because they completely understand the why. Rhonda's style of speaking involves the audience. In 2004. When hiring speaking or training professionals.

Region of Peel Web Design by Idea Bureau > Tips & Solutions >Stress Management Let your frustration go Recently.. Machiella . . at the expense. ” ~ Sandra R. It had a hardware failure that my computer technician called "irreparable.." I am totally frustrated at not having a computer.. 2008 more info “ Many of our members have expressed to me that they have used some of the techniques you demonstrated. my 18-month-old computer died. February 13th.. and most importantly. with the time I am having to spend to get a new system up and running..Wednesday.PIPSC “ You effectively touched upon those communication skills that affect our day to day work routines and raised issues that staff could easily relate to. in both their work and personal lives with positive outcomes” ~ Marilyn Best .

. When I ordered my new computer. your month. That's a pretty drastic. I will let go of what I cannot control. Don't allow it to control you.Do you ever get frustrated at work? Have you ever gotten annoyed because someone else in the office wasn't doing what you want her to do? Do you get frustrated with red tape? What do you do about it? There are a few different ways you can deal (or not deal) with frustration. I could obsess about it not being here. Who am I hurting in this situation? Me. it still isn't here. If you are in a supervisory position. Focus on the frustration The first option is something we've all done from time to time: allow circumstances to take control. You and I both know that it isn't true. realistically. your week. I was told it would take two to four business days until it was delivered. If there was something I could do. Can you just let it go and not obsess over her being late? Yes you can. so their response is to never drive on them. We can let frustration control us. Every time you think about needing a lawyer your temperature will rise. I also need to let go of the fact that the computer didn't last as long as I thought it should. A week later. or I could just say "that's too bad. and that would be another excellent option. Avoid the situation The second option is to avoid the situation or person who is frustrating you. For instance if you say "all lawyers are crooks" often enough. you have a few more choices. I could have said that I was fed up with computers and refused to use another one again. I could really use it now. There is nothing I can do to get my computer here more quickly. It's what happens when you just whine and complain but do nothing about it. I know of people who get very frustrated driving on major highways. or we can decide not to let it. If your lawyer is frustrating you for whatever reason. If you complain about something long enough it even starts to control the way you think. They must take much longer to get anywhere because they are avoiding the frustration of the highway. You've seen it happen to others. I need to change my expectations for the next time." I am choosing to just let it go. too. you will never get over being frustrated by your lawyer. Others have quit their jobs because they didn't like the frustration of certain aspects of it. and you choose to allow the frustration to control you. If you have a co-worker who is continually late. what can you do? Can you go to her house each morning and get her out of bed? I doubt it. what are you going to do about it? Well. your anger will re-appear and you will be frustrated. I would. but being frustrated does not have to be the one you choose. and who drives you crazy each morning with frustration. Yes. solution to the problem of frustration. Frustration is something that occurs in many aspects of life. you will start to believe it is true. It's a choice. That is a perfect example of biting off my nose to spite my face. But since there isn't. A better option The third option is to understand the situation and let it go. and life-altering. You allow it or her to wreck your day. The same thing applies with co-workers.

February 13th. 2008 more info . February 13th. I will wait for my computer and ensure that frustration doesn't dictate my feelings or how I live each day while I'm waiting. Learn more. And when a co-worker does things a little differently than I expect her to. Wednesday. Workshop includes 1-800 access. For practical.As for me.. 2008 . join Rhonda for the next 1 hour teleseminar.. Next teleseminar date: Wednesday. interactive and inexpensive training on dealing with difficult people and confrontation skills. I will choose to let my frustration go. live Q&A session and mp3 session download. I will choose not to let it ruin my day.

19 copies of each original document are made. Take a look at your weekly schedule.. it went on for a couple of years.More of "Are You Prone to STRESS?" Are You Sleeping Enough? I'm guessing that the most commonly asked question everyday is "How Are You?"." . I've since . It started around 2001 and wasn't just for a few busy weeks either. But on average today. My 'partner' was available 24 hours a day.... my false sense of security allowed me not to panic. Why are we so stressed? What is different now than compared to 40 years ago? EVERYTHING is the answer. with my job. he was fun and rewarding. We assume there are multiple copies of everything floating around... live more I once had an affair. and that nothing can really get lost. 'He' was easy to spend time with. live more" A false sense of security Remember when computers were introduced into the workplace? We were told we would have a paperless society.doing something for. Stress . Stress. and have virtually every moment accounted for . This month it happened." However. I never cease to be amazed .. seven days a week.. I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that the second most common response is "I'm a little tired. I cheated on my husband and my children. Bad assumption. spending a significant amount of time away from them. .More of "Work less. at the keyboard of my computer.Web Tips & Solutions > Stress Management Work less. are you like most people. or with someone else? When I teach my Stress Management programs. I cheated them out of time they should have had with their wife and mother. Is there any extra time just for you? Or.More of "A false sense of security" Are You Prone to STRESS? Stress..one of the most popular words of the 1990's and into the new millennium. I'm also guessing that the most common answer is "Fine. However. Hardly a paperless society! I think all that paper gives many of us a false sense of security. He was at the end of a phone call..

. Everyone has stress! Maybe our causes of stress are slightly different . And if we read the paper every once in a while. We over schedule! Almost everyone does it… and we just never seem to learn.More of "Are You Sleeping Enough? " A Facelift for the Mind: . with days spent leisurely around the pool.. not all stress is bad! There is such a thing as positive stress . Taking a walk in the country can be very relaxing. and reduce the impact the negative stress creates.and we need a little bit of that every . beach or campground.and take advantage of the energy that positive stress creates. so can soaking in a hot bubble bath after a long day.More of "Slow Down and Smell the Roses" . We all think that it is supposed to be more relaxed. Yesterday was scheduled to be our "family picnic".. The one Sunday a year where all of my dad's family get together and just .Reduce Negative Stress -" A Facelift for the Mind: Reduce Negative Stress Part Two! Last month I introduced to you four of the negative stressors that we have in our life with tips on how to reduce the negative effect they each create. your position in life or how much money you make. How much sleep is enough? The experts tell us that we need between 6-8 hours of sleep each night! That is not 6-8 hours spent .. I want to continue the list this month with the final four.Reduce Negative Stress Stress Management . When I use the work "relaxation". It doesn't seem to matter your age. We know that we need to manage our stress . So… we need to identify where that negative stress is coming from.. your sex.How often have you said that? I personally have used that line. initiated by you.More of "A Facelift for the Mind: . It can be very frustrating not to be able to relax (and of course.More of "A Facelift for the Mind: Reduce Negative Stress Part Two!" WHAT IS RELAXATION? DO YOU KNOW HOW TO RELAX? Relaxation means various things to various people.More of "WHAT IS RELAXATION? DO YOU KNOW HOW TO RELAX?" Slow Down and Smell the Roses Summer is such a rushed time. very stressful and even unhealthy). just a few times.but it still exists... the summer is over.. I am referring to a state of being. in which there are physiological and psychological changes.. and we didn't do nearly enough relaxing. oh. Fear of Failure. What happens to all of our good intentions? Before you know it. Think about what your perfect day . Just feeling relaxed may not mean that you are.. we know that stress will kill us! However.one of the most popular topics when people ask for training and keynotes at conventions. Ah… .

at the expense.. Be honest with yourself..Ever Been"Nervous?" Do you ever get really nervous about doing something? So nervous that the butterflies are not only flying in formation. they are also doing something like synchronized swimming in your stomach? Why is it that sometimes we can do a task that doesn’t make us even skip a beat. or quitting smoking. Let's make some concrete and realistic plans that we can follow through with.. February 13th. with the time I am having to spend to get a new system up and running.. 2008 more info . in a job interview. even reading bible verses at church. exercising.More of "Recharging Your Batteries " Let your frustration go Recently. How much "recharging" did you ." I am totally frustrated at not having a computer. I think that for 2003 we should all make one resolution that we intend to keep. and other times it immobilizes us from doing anything at all? You can use many examples when we talk about nervousness. . delivering a speech at work. my 18-month-old computer died.More of "Ever Been"Nervous?"" Recharging Your Batteries Do you ever notice that at the beginning of the year we often set resolutions that never last? Well. And it doesn't involve losing weight. I'm talking about resolving to regularly "recharge our batteries". At least not directly.. and most importantly. It had a hardware failure that my computer technician called "irreparable.More of "Let your frustration go" Wednesday.. Do you ever get frustrated at work? Have you ever gotten annoyed because someone else in the office wasn't doing what you want her to do? Do you get frustrated with red tape? What do you do about it? There .

too. your month. at the expense. Every time you . you will start to believe it is true. If you complain about something long enough it even starts to control the way you think. you will never get over being frustrated by your lawyer.Web Design Let your frustration go Recently. Do you ever get frustrated at work? Have you ever gotten annoyed because someone else in the office wasn't doing what you want her to do? Do you get frustrated with red tape? What do you do about it? There are a few different ways you can deal (or not deal) with frustration. For instance if you say "all lawyers are crooks" often enough. with the time I am having to spend to get a new system up and running. and most importantly. You allow it or her to wreck your day." I am totally frustrated at not having a computer. and you choose to allow the frustration to control you. It's what happens when you just whine and complain but do nothing about it. It had a hardware failure that my computer technician called "irreparable. You've seen it happen to others. my 18-month-old computer died. your week. You and I both know that it isn't true. Focus on the frustration The first option is something we've all done from time to time: allow circumstances to take control. If your lawyer is frustrating you for whatever reason.

or I could just say "that's too bad. And when a co-worker does things a little differently than I expect her to. A better option The third option is to understand the situation and let it go. For practical. Frustration is something that occurs in many aspects of life. live Q&A session and mp3 session download. A week later. I would. I will wait for my computer and ensure that frustration doesn't dictate my feelings or how I live each day while I'm waiting. or we can decide not to let it. solution to the problem of frustration.. That is a perfect example of biting off my nose to spite my face. There is nothing I can do to get my computer here more quickly. what are you going to do about it? Well. and life-altering. They must take much longer to get anywhere because they are avoiding the frustration of the highway. Workshop includes 1-800 access. I could have said that I was fed up with computers and refused to use another one again. Avoid the situation The second option is to avoid the situation or person who is frustrating you. February 13th. Next teleseminar date: Wednesday.think about needing a lawyer your temperature will rise. We can let frustration control us. I need to change my expectations for the next time. It's a choice. and who drives you crazy each morning with frustration. I could really use it now. so their response is to never drive on them. I know of people who get very frustrated driving on major highways. When I ordered my new computer. it still isn't here. Can you just let it go and not obsess over her being late? Yes you can. Who am I hurting in this situation? Me. I also need to let go of the fact that the computer didn't last as long as I thought it should. you have a few more choices. If there was something I could do. 2008 . I could obsess about it not being here. I will let go of what I cannot control. join Rhonda for the next 1 hour teleseminar. If you are in a supervisory position. If you have a co-worker who is continually late. realistically. Don't allow it to control you.. I will choose to let my frustration go. . and that would be another excellent option. but being frustrated does not have to be the one you choose. I was told it would take two to four business days until it was delivered. what can you do? Can you go to her house each morning and get her out of bed? I doubt it. That's a pretty drastic. Others have quit their jobs because they didn't like the frustration of certain aspects of it. your anger will re-appear and you will be frustrated. Learn more. As for me." I am choosing to just let it go. Yes. I will choose not to let it ruin my day. But since there isn't. interactive and inexpensive training on dealing with difficult people and confrontation skills. The same thing applies with co-workers.

February 13th.Wednesday. 2008 more info Tips & Solutions Confrontation Skills Difficult People at Home Difficult People at Work How to Deal with Anger Stress Management Latest Tips and Solutions: .

I prefer not to show my emotions. 19 copies of each original document are made.More of Strange techniques to help you keep emotions in check Work less. We assume.More of Work less.. live more A false sense of security Remember when computers were introduced into the workplace? We were told we would have a paperless society... At work. February 13th. we think about handling the situation..... I may be a big marshmallow in my personal... When we think about a confrontation. But on average today.. with my job. spending a significant. and we tend not to think any further than that.More of After the Confrontation Strange techniques to help you keep emotions in check I'm a pretty private person. it went on for a couple of years. I cheated on my husband and my children.More of UNCOMMON SENSE FOR ANGER Wednesday. live more I once had an affair.. The 'Rhonda' I take to work is not the same 'Rhonda I let my friends and family see... Hardly a paperless society!. It started around 2001 and wasn't just for a few busy weeks either. 2008 more info .After the Confrontation 'Pretending' is a valid way to begin the healing process. And it seems to me that every time I open a newspaper or watch the news.More of A false sense of security UNCOMMON SENSE FOR ANGER Anger can be a self-destructive emotion when it's out of proportion to the situation and/or when it is inappropriately expressed.

and any thoughts that accompany it. So . No more should we be surprised by our reactions . aggressiveness.we need to have thought them through before hand. why we are angry.where do you get angry? Does a particular person or situation push your anger button? Condescension. And it seems to me that every time I open a newspaper or watch the news. and has used excessive force (such as knives or guns) to deal with anger! We need to realize when we are angry. .Web Design UNCOMMON SENSE FOR ANGER Anger can be a self-destructive emotion when it's out of proportion to the situation and/or when it is inappropriately expressed. your anger's duration. yet another person has seemingly overreacted to a situation. and what we plan to do about it.before it gets out of control: • Keep logs of your anger: what makes you angry. who makes you angry and to whom you express it. apathy or stupidity? How do you want to react? Do you respond to aggressive driving by becoming a more aggressive driver? When someone yells at you .do you yell back? Is anger a problem that you usually keep hidden? Here are some easy techniques to handle your anger .

Workshop includes 1-800 access.. Wednesday. exercise after work. February 13th. Take several deep breaths and relax your muscles. confront the person with whom you are angry. interactive and inexpensive training on dealing with difficult people and confrontation skills. Learn more. "Is it worth getting upset about?" If it is. join Rhonda for the next 1 hour teleseminar. 2008 . February 13th. 2008 more info . Don't brood about what makes you angry. Easy steps to look at . It only keeps you in a stress response and can lead to health problems. deal with it.• • • • Deal with your anger directly. Ask yourself.. Next teleseminar date: Wednesday.much harder to actually spend time and follow through on each of them. If possible. live Q&A session and mp3 session download. For practical. rather than taking it out on someone else or complaining about it to another person.

And it seems to me that every time I open a newspaper or watch the news. In the past. and what we plan to do about it. I have discussed how to control our own anger .More of "UNCOMMON SENSE FOR ANGER" Stages of Anger (and how to deal with them) I deal with the topic of anger in many of my training programs .Web Design by Idea Bureau UNCOMMON SENSE FOR ANGER Anger can be a self-destructive emotion when it's out of proportion to the situation and/or when it is inappropriately expressed.and it has been the subject of previous columns as well. yet another person has seemingly overreacted to a situation. and has used excessive force (such as knives or guns) to deal with anger! We need to realize when we are angry.we need to have thought . I use the "MAD" stages for anger. In my Customer Service..this month I will discuss how to control the anger of others. No more should we be surprised by our reactions . why we are angry. .. Conflict Managment and Difficult People seminars.

The "A" in MAD stands for "Aggravated".More of "Stages of Anger (and how to deal with them)" Stages of Anger (and how to deal with them) I deal with the topic of anger in many of my training programs . If you are the higher authority. Once they have vented. This is when you should call in the boss. and not on their attacks on you. yes. sue you or your company. Level One (M) is the easiest to deal with because the other person is still rational and able to listen. My first rule of thumb is to never take this type of abuse sitting down. At this serious point of anger. I have discussed how to control our own anger . The problem is not that you are completely incompetent and that you can't do anything right (which is what the Level Two angry person will tell you) . The "M" in MAD stands for "Miffed". and focus on what the problem really is.you know what I mean). education levels etc. I use the "MAD" stages for anger. Conflict Managment and Difficult People seminars. In the past. In my Customer Service.and funny enough it sort of is!). or the reservations were entered into the system inaccurately. Level Two is something that most of us have had experience with . They really have a lot of steam to blow off . We need to not take this personally . they would like the situation rectified which you should hopefully be able to do by listening to what they are upset about. Your customer/co-worker/spouse is "angry" but it is a Level One stage (sounds kind of like an earthquake barometer doesn't it . and because it is extremely difficult to deal with . sex..but separate our involvement in the situation.perhaps ensure you lose your job (or fire you if it is the boss). Your customer/co-worker/spouse . they are still likely unable to listen to what you have to say. supervisor. Hopefully you really don't run across many people at this stage of anger. I would want someone else to witness this (if it was professionally oriented) in case it escalates to a legal matter. or a higher authority.the problem is their report didn't get typed in time.they will just get angrier and rant a little longer. If you interrupt them . .so it takes a huge amount of patience (and biting your tongue) to let them blow some of it off. At this point the other person is no longer focused on the problem .and. It is in your best interest at this point to not even respond to those attacks (you can do that later if necessary). Level Two is a little more difficult (as you might have expected).and that is exactly what this stage of anger is like! Destructive on relationships. In Level Three (the top of the barometer) the angry person is threatening to do something . The "D" in MAD stands for Destructive . or divorce if it is a personal disagreement. I am fully aware that this is easier said than done . your ancestry. They are focused on what the problem is or what he or she is experiencing.they are focused on you! You are more likely to hear verbal attacks on you (or your physical characteristics. If you are sitting (even if you are on the phone) stand up (do be careful that it does not give the appearance of you being aggressive though). your language.The "M" in MAD stands for "Miffed".and we rarely get good at it (unless it is our job to deal with this type of customer every day!). you need to make .but focus on what you can do for that person.but only a few of us get good at dealing with it. They will describe whatever has provoked their anger.this month I will discuss how to control the anger of others.. Mainly they just want to blow off some steam .and it has been the subject of previous columns as well. The solution for you is to just listen.

Then leave. 2008 .. and get back together in one hour to discuss the possible solutions".and keep you eyes out for future columns on Anger Management! For practical. February 13th. What it will do is stop you from reacting to the situation. After the time has passed. Learn more. Wednesday.not react to it! Good luck . Are you able to deal with this professionally without losing your temper? If you cannot. While I wish I could guarantee that this would solve the anger of others . I would suggest that when you get together again to discuss it that you bring someone else into the conversation as a sort of mediator. and hopefully bring the anger to a reasonable place where you can deal with it.you and I both know it won't. Next teleseminar date: Wednesday. why don't we agree to walk away right now. We need to respond to the situation . and you can become solution oriented.a judgment call at this point. live Q&A session and mp3 session download. interactive and inexpensive training on dealing with difficult people and confrontation skills.. This line works in your personal life too. February 13th. the best thing you can do is to put your hand up in the stop sign motion and say something along these lines "I realize that this is a discussion that needs to continue. join Rhonda for the next 1 hour teleseminar. Before either one of us says something that we cannot retract. Workshop includes 1-800 access. you can calm down and hopefully they have as well. 2008 more info .

Outline: 1. Redemption and Discipline 6. Counseling D. Connecting E. Introduction 2. Disruptions in Fellowship B. Redemptive Strategies For Difficult People A. Connection Between Personality Types and Difficult People 4. Disabled Unity C. Strategies for Redemption A. Ruined Relationships 5. Coping C. Identification B. Defining the Problem of Difficult People 3. Introduction . Disciplining 1.

Marshall Shelley's Well-Intentioned Dragons2 follows a similar course of describing the various types of difficult people while presenting a somewhat more redemptive view. as the title suggests.4 Tim LaHaye's Transforming Your Temperament5 takes a Christ-centered. filled with individuals who are each unique in their combination of age. the connections between personality types and difficult behaviors. of course. He openly admits his purpose is not to address the ability or approach to changing a difficult person. and many other facets of individuality. This provided me with a better understanding of people and personalities as a context for studying about difficult people. In this sense. experience. merely covers techniques for coping with a difficult person. In this document. faith. Tom Allen's Congregations in Conflict6 addresses the various types of disruption in the church caused by difficult people as well as strategies for managing and overcoming the conflicts that ensue. 2. health. the course of study used to gain insight into this topic. If everyone strived to love one another as our LORD commanded. such antagonists are terminal cases. including strengths and weaknesses of each. From this core set of books. He failed to reflect on the process which resulted in the change -. NIV). Here is a brief summary of the books I included in this study: Kenneth C. and present my thoughts on redemptive strategies for dealing with difficult people. Defining the Problem of Difficult People In my studies. This course has been helpful to me in understanding the general categories of these difficult people and strategies for dealing with them in all walks of life. reasoning abilities. . I will reflect on the definition of difficult people.Dealing with difficult people is something each one of us will have to do so long as we live on planet earth. Larry Crabb's Connecting7 is a book that at least identifies a redemptive component that is lacking in the other books. Robert M. Yet to this we were called by our LORD Jesus Christ who commanded us: "Love one another" (John 13:34.therefore they cannot change because then they would no longer be difficult people. In his opinion. upbringing. So it is useless to try and change them. I read a number of books specifically on defining difficult people in and outside the church. Haugk's Antagonists in the Church1 presents a rather pessimistic view of relating to various types of difficult people. Shelley at least describes several situations where a "dragon" turned into a normal person.an unfortunate omission (perhaps he will write another book on this topic?). I learned that difficult people are difficult people because they are difficult -. Bramson's Coping With Difficult People3. there would likely be no need for a course on difficult people. which he labels "antagonists". The reality is that not only are people individuals but many strive to create strife and turmoil for others. One can only learn to "cope". personality. biblically-based view of basic personality types. It was interesting that none of the required books really gave a sense that there was real hope in changing the behavior of a difficult person. The world is. it will be somewhat of a challenge for anyone to relate to another.

The end of our work should always be to view that person as God views them -. Choleric -. perfectionist. or Melancholy persons to be complainers. The Choleric in a goals-setting session which requires collaboration and group consensus will demand that his vision or solution be implemented at once. This is a useful insight from a ministry perspective. His desire to be merely a spectator in life will bring resentment and a passive resistance to such efforts which require involvement with other people.a special human being made in the image of God to be made new in Christ and conformed to His character. . Tim LaHaye uses the four types of: • • • • Sanguine -. At a minimum. The Melancholy person in a critical leadership position may be unable to take decisive action. initially going along with the crowd. The Phlegmatic may appear to cooperate in a group ministry situation.Apart from the ridiculous circular logic. extrovert. This means that there is always hope in the power of God to change even the most difficult "dragon". Sanguines to engage in people-pleasing. While any person/personality type has the potential to become a difficult person in any of these categories. The "indirect" group includes passive-resistors and people-pleasers.the cheerful. a Sanguine person who must plan and forecast the budget may eagerly say "Yes. self-sufficient task master. Phlegmatic -. Both the strengths and weaknesses can make for difficult people depending on the situation. causing frustration and conflict for all those involved. emotional. this notion certainly contradicts the strategy of redemptive love our Savior put in motion at the cross. But coping should never be the end of our work in relating to a difficult person. I'll do it!" but will quickly become restless and procrastinate. one can certainly see a tendency for Choleric persons to become hostile-aggressives. Ingrid Wagler of Trinity College and Seminary offers this categorization:9 • • The "direct" group includes hostile-aggressives and complainers. If "His blood can make the vilest sinner clean" and "There is power. 3. easy-going. Perhaps we do need to cope at times.the analytical. wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb" as the old gospel hymns proclaim -.then we as ministers of the good word of God must believe and work toward that end.the strong-willed.and it is so -. Connection Between Personality Types and Difficult People While there are many different categorizations proposed. introvert. It points out the need to be careful in assigning people to various roles in the church when their personality type is not appropriate. warm.the calm. In a church setting.8 The point of interest in dealing with difficult people is that their basic personality type has inherent strengths and weaknesses. people-loving. Melancholy -. such a situation would need to be monitored more closely than when an individual's personality type was appropriate for the task at hand. power. Phlegmatics to become passive-resistors.

Being ignored seemed to stimulate his tendency to provoke the teacher and the class. In teaching the first few months. they were ready to leave the church. other people began to love them also. the more this couple felt loved by us the less he provoked the class with difficult questions. I also received many difficult questions from him. My wife and I spent the time getting to know them. This must be a model for our own ministry to difficult people.they simply ignored them. While there are many specific techniques to be learned for coping with difficult people.both good and bad -. for the class that learned to love the unlovable.4. even to this day.will serve to illustrate the possibilities for redemption. The husband seemed to enjoy asking the teacher "tough" questions during the lessons to the point of hindering the teacher's message to the class. We became close friends. Disruptions in Fellowship One family joined our church fellowship but quickly gained a bad reputation in the couples Sunday School program. debate. disable unity within the church body. I found myself studying and preparing more. period. and. Since the fellowship has a history of being cordial and polite to all. A. Yet. The following examples from my own experience -. This was a victory for me as a teacher. were intended to spark discussion. it pays to get to know them. I found myself engaged in many deep and sticky doctrinal conversations with the husband. Every time he would speak. over time. How can you effectively minister to anyone without understanding who they are and what they need? Rather than continuing the present practice of ignoring this couple. It was an outreach to the unlovable. the thing I found interesting is that. difficult people who reject their Creator. I could see in advance that would be a difficult thing to manage with such a person in the class. I did my best to be responsive yet not lose track in delivering the message. I decided to live out Jesus' command to love them. His difficult behavior was not intended to be antagonistic (though it seemed to be to others) -. After several months in the class. I encourage dialog during the lessons to help people think through what God is saying to them. A difficult person will disrupt fellowship. He let me know that before they came to our class.he had a deep faith in God and desired that others grow deeper in their own faith. no one ever discussed this with them -. to him.the love which sent our LORD Jesus Christ to the cross. and ruin relationships with specific individuals. These are grievous consequences of a difficult person's behavior. He and his family did not experience the love of Christ until people reached out to them. Redemptive Strategies For Difficult People Another pressing issue in my own ministry is understanding how to work with difficult people to bring about positive changes. As I got to know him. and for a family that was almost pushed away. When faced with a difficult person in one's fellowship. As a teacher. I could see many people in the class roll their eyes impatiently. growth. The most obvious and powerful strategy for redemption is the power of love -. His mission of love provided redemption for all who will call on His name. May the name of the LORD God be praised forever! . most importantly. Imagine my delight in finding this out as I reviewed the new class roll along with my director. The questions. anticipating the controversial questions he might ask. there are few focused on redemptive strategies.

I attempted. Over time. for 'love will cover a multitude of sins'" (1 Pet 4:8. Even if the difficult person never responds. Perhaps she would learn that not everyone is "bad" who disagrees with her. I caught her in the hall and asked to speak with her. The spontaneous nature of the meeting allowed it to end with no outcome and no action plan. This problem ended in a stalemate. She and her husband joined our class and quickly got involved as care group leaders. As I reflect on this situation. pointing out her work in the care group. Haugk disagrees with this approach10 insisting you should not meet with an antagonist if possible. NKJV). see his wisdom in making a definite appointment time for the meeting. Disabled Unity In another situation. Since the care groups were formed in geographic boundaries.no constraints. She agreed. no boundaries. It became obvious that she had certain "friends" in the class which. I shared with her my desire for a fellowship that is constantly reaching in and reaching out to people. on the surface. of course.this seemed to be a time-waster for this type of difficult person. Her small circle of friends. always let the antagonist ask for a meeting so you can control the situation. She insisted on having certain families in her group. Here she revealed her "doctrinal dragon" nature: she would only befriend those who were committed Christians! In reality. She simply would not listen. however. her doctrine. we tried to accommodate her while insisting that she also include certain families close to her home. in vain. One Wednesday evening. My approach to dealing with this growing problem was to confront her privately. otherwise. when it was convenient for me. This has the advantage of being not only a coping strategy but a redemptive strategy based on the truth and the love of Christ. A better use of that time would have been to help others in the class learn to reach out to her and love her in spite of this irritating quality. Yet it was equally obvious that she ONLY had those friends and would not open up her heart or her life to admit anyone else. I was wrong because I disagreed with her "biblicallybased" view of Christian fellowship. I pointed out. I could have spent less time helping her understand my view -. no exclusivity. I could not convince her and she would not change. When the class decided as a group to do something that she did not like or desire. I do. As the Apostle Peter pointed out. I see what should have done differently. This interfered with the unity of our fellowship. followed her in this defiance. this meant that they agreed with all her "biblically-based" views. Perhaps she would learn to respect others who disagreed with her rather than looking down at them. the people in the fellowship will grow deeper in faith and in their walk with . This person was warm and affirming to anyone who agreed with sound doctrine -that is. She made plans on her own with her small circle of friends. is not a bad thing. Her work engaged a small circle of friends. and did not seem to be inclusive. This approach is flawed for it allows no option to resolve the problem nor to redeem the individual. she would not participate. I failed to make an appointment for this purpose. it was clear that only certain individuals agreed with her legalistic doctrine and even fewer lived up to her standards. Obviously. to help her understand the commandment to "love one another" (John 13:34. She encouraged others not to participate. Others in the class saw what was going on and were quite dismayed. She was still warm and affirming at this point. "And above all things have fervent love for one another. NIV) ended with a period -. a "doctrinal dragon" emerged within our fellowship. Understanding her nature. Experiencing the love of others in the fellowship would seem to have greater impact on a doctrinal dragon that going "toe-to-toe" on Bible verses.B.

persecution. and disabling unity in the body are all serious problems. The example of our LORD here is startling: even as Judas brought the Roman soldiers to arrest Him. In any case. Many find it easier to simply run away from the problem. NKJV) Is that the kind of commitment that will win over a difficult person? Perhaps it will and maybe it will not. 18:15-17). what hope for redemption is there? It is certain that shutting the door to one who is hard to love will never help. In so doing. Redemption and Discipline Is there a point where the strategy of redemptive love for a difficult person breaks down? Clearly. Strategies for Redemption Perhaps there needs to be a general strategy for acting redemptively toward difficult people. Ultimately. or false accusations we receive in the process. While I have not personally done the depth of research in this area necessary to develop a process. (Matt. you join the throngs of the Pharisees who enact justice without mercy. But the worst of all is when the relationship between two individuals is irreparably broken. 18:18-35) The ultimate purpose of discipline is to redeem rather than simply condemn. 1 Cor. hindering the fellowship. it will demonstrate to the LORD and to the world your own faithfulness to Christ. If the committed Christian in the relationship gives up. 6. C. Such broken fellowship is inevitable when the committed Christian loses his or her commitment in the situation. It is important to keep redemption as the clear focus of such discipline. Disrupting group plans. 18:15-17. strife. In such a case. The New Testament reveals several instances of gross sin (1 Cor. Jesus called this betrayer "Friend". To break such a fellowship is unthinkable. Titus 3:9-11) The cases involve obvious sin by one who claims the name of Christ yet flagrantly disregards the clear commands of Scripture. (Matt. Yet people tire of dealing with a person who acts unreasonably over such long period of time. Ruined Relationships The most grievous part of dealing with a difficult person in a church fellowship is the ruination of relationships. (Matt. The wounds of insults. 5. He immediately followed this with specific teaching on the necessity for forgiveness. and other boorish behavior run deep. injustice. This outcome is in God's hands. 26:50. there is a biblical mandate for church discipline. a positive response to the Holy Spirit resides within the difficult person. 5:1-13) and divisiveness (Titus 3:10-11) which require the person to be disfellowshiped from the Church. Our job is to remain faithful in spite of whatever insults. These activities are usually involved in dealing with difficult people: . without a redemptive focus. snobbery.Christ. And it always offers the hope of redemption. 5:1-13. I do see several areas where redemptive strategies can be employed. Two people have infinite capacity to share a bond of love through the Holy Spirit no matter what their upbringing or culture might be. When Jesus spoke of the process for discipline (Matt. you demonstrate love at its finest. church discipline is necessary.

Identification B. then we have accepted failure in relating to this person who drives us crazy.not to be confused with someone simply having a bad day -. The method of confronting such a person for counsel needs planning. Bramson's work in coping techniques is a fine place to start in learning to deal with difficult people. when observed.identification relates to observed behaviors in individuals. If we only choose to cope. narcissism. we are commanded to try and help people back to the full fellowship of the LORD and His Church. Counseling Difficult people need solid biblical counseling in order to change their ways. Common observations of difficult people also include some degree of paranoia and antisocial behavior. (John 16:8- . and authoritarianism. require caution. There is great victory to be won through the work of Jesus Christ in your own life and in the life of the difficult person. aggression. B. 6:1-2) Many a brother or sister in Christ can be turned around when confronted with clear. Disciplining In each of these activities. Identification Kenneth Haugk presents a good set of criteria to use in identifying potential "hard-core" antagonists. Chapters two through eight are specific and practical suggestions for seven common types of difficult people. If you look to categorize everyone you meet in terms of difficult people types.11 These character traits are supplemented with various "red-flag" conditions which. Certain situations where the difficult person is a highly influential member of the local church require the utmost of prudence and tact. The strategy is to cope while you plan and implement redemptive strategies for this person. This includes such general character traits as negative self-concept. Nevertheless. you risk becoming one yourself.A. Though the difficult person may not initially accept such admonitions.12 Once a situation has revealed a genuine difficult person -. A. Another point made by Haugk13 and Bramson14 is the danger of relating to people in terms of labels -. redemptive strategies can be employed to help the difficult person rise above his dysfunction. God's word offers much counsel on the need for good relationships and how to relate properly toward one another. we cannot discount the convicting work of the Holy Spirit promised by our LORD. Connecting E. Counseling D. It is important that this not be the end of the process. Coping Dr. Coping C. (Gal.the particular aberrant behavior can then be addressed through appropriate redemptive strategies. C. biblical teaching. rigidity.

. The concept of community-connectedness suggested by Mrs. They are the "heavenly sandpaper" in our lives the Holy Spirit uses to help us become more Christ-like. Perhaps if there were more intimacy in the Church. is always a possibility.16 The redemptive connection will always be the individual-connectedness -. You can be disruptive to a group much easier and far longer than you can to your own close friend. It is certain that difficult people will always be around and appear when you least expect them. To correct their sinful practice. In highly influential positions. Such relationships need to be taught. This is not to suggest an Adlerian solution. Community-connectedness could help to control such behavior. The Bible reveals that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. Disciplining Biblical church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20) is sorely lacking in churches today. A "hard-core" difficult person may find perverse satisfaction in being ostracized for his behavior. divisive issues and difficult people would not be quite as destructive. Connecting The one thing which is striking about our culture today is the lack of intimacy between people. Yet the whole counsel of God must be believed. discipline is necessary. E.13) D. This is the goal we should seek in redeeming difficult people. By striving to . So with His abiding presence. redemption of the individual must be pursued as the overall goal of any disciplinary effort. and encouraged in our churches.. individual connectedness is the key to change. Wagler15 is an interesting approach that may help control a difficult person's behavior. Nor do people want to risk potential lawsuits as a result of accusations made publicly before the church (after requisite private disciplinary steps have been taken). From a redemptive standpoint. Christian friendship made possible through the common bond of the Holy Spirit. and practiced if a local church will ever reach its full potential. especially in the Church. taught. Difficult people make trouble which will typically require such discipline. It should not be conducted in order to drive the person away from the church (this only gets rid of your problem while most likely creating one for another church somewhere down the road). Mega-churches and the emphasis on numerical growth have not helped in this area. As the Bible makes clear. There is much more to be learned in dealing with difficult people. Redemption. 4:8).two people who share intimate. modeled. NKJV). "Faithful are the wounds of a friend. The Apostle Paul wrote that even elders in the church may require public reproof because they are leaders in the congregation (1 Tim. Surely the behavior of difficult people is included in this. Yet. thinking his persecution is because of his faith in Christ. the need is even greater. experience will be the best classroom in which to truly apply the knowledge and techniques from this course. I am convinced." (Prov 27:6. 5:19-20). No one really wants to be accountable to another. It is hard to take such a "me versus the world" stand when someone you are intimately close to in Christian friendship tells you of your disruptive ways.

13.. 11. 16. Copyright 1991. Robert M.Wagler. Dell Publishing: New York. Copyright 1985 by Christianity Today. Inspirational Press: New York. 5. Christian Publications: Camp Hill. Trinity College and Seminary Seminar on 6/5/98. such love is actually possible and normative through the Holy Spirit. For the unbeliever. according to Adler. 14.. For the Christian. 60. Ph. copyright 1971. In this holy process. Transformed Temperaments. Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis.Haugk. 6. New York. Shelley. NKJV). 160. End Notes: 1. Wagler. Transforming Your Temperament. Word Publishing: Nashville. p. Crabb. 3. LaHaye.Ibid. 8. Tim.Ibid. Ingrid. Ibid. North Carolina. Kenneth C. Copyright 1997. Marshall. Antagonists in the Church.Alfred Adler suggests that one of the key problems with the "mentally ill" is that they have lost a sense of community. p. Study Notes. pp. 61-64. 10. Well-Intentioned Dragons.D. 69-79. Larry. Bramson. pp. whatever pain you experience from dealings with the difficult person will surely lessen as you realize the "fellowship of His sufferings" (Phil. 9. p.implement redemptive strategies. you shine the light and love of Christ into the soul of a difficult person. Copyright 1981. 2. Minnesota. 16.. Haugk. for both community and individual development. Tennessee. 2. 12.. Why You Act the Way You Do. "Dealing With Difficult People. 3:10. The "feeling" of community is necessary.Ibid.Bramson. Tom. p. With all due respect to Alder. 7. Minnesota. Allen. The fallen nature of man precludes unselfish. such selfless devotion to others is not normative. . 6-7. 15. sacrificial love for others on an ongoing basis. Connecting. Inc. such communityconnectedness cannot exist for long without a power source to enable it. Published 1991 in three volumes: Spirit-Controlled Temperament. Congregations in Conflict. pp. copyright 1984. you can do no more and no less for others. LaHaye. Copyright 1988. 4. Pennsylvania. Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis. copyright 1966." Asheville. Jesus did no less for you. 128-129. however badly it is needed. pp. Coping With Difficult People.

you'd find it's typically someone whose troublesome behavior… • Affects most people. maintain our integrity and self-esteem. Most likely you'll get just as many versions as the number of people you survey. try to improve the effectiveness of our actions. Career Poll What is the most important benefit your employer can offer you? Top of Form . not just the overly sensitive. You don't need to go through life "holding your breath" around people who are considered "difficult!" Dealing with them has more to do with setting boundaries and limitations for ourselves regarding what we will. and know when to let go! Top of Form Search BlueSuitMom.Dealing with Difficult People By Laura Benjamin Anne Lamott. in her book "Bird by Bird." While her comment in the book refers to someone who offers constructive criticism of a writer's first draft. The best we can do is understand what motivates them. her philosophy applies just as clearly to dealing with people in general. or will not tolerate from others.com 000727e5-sp000 Bottom of Form Email this page to a friend Career Corner Story Continues Below Ad • In a Man's World • Professional Organizations • Company Seminars • Career Archive • Small Business Advice • Online Job Search • Entrepreneur's Corner • Sign Up For Our Newsletter Ask an Expert • Image Consultant • Career Coach • Work/Life Coach • Business Coach • Work at Home • Professional Organizer • Emotional Wellness • Business Advisor Difficult People Defined Just for giggles. But if you looked for the common themes. You don't want to spend your time around people who make you hold your breath. poll the people around you and ask what is their definition of a difficult person." wrote "I don't think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect.

99% of the people you work with also think this person is a pain in the posterior! • Is set at a lower threshold and is more easily triggered. Is frequent and habitual. Recognize that a difficult person is adept at bringing the worst out of everyone! You. "We work in an organization where one usually tries to avoid conflict. Kofi Annan. are free to change the nature of the View results . and seem to "go off" over the smallest little things. Are they really a difficult person or just having a bad day? If you find yourself reacting negatively to practically everything they do. or incompetent. Interrupt the action. one needs to find a way of getting them debated. like Dr. 37 http://w w w . in "Coping with Difficult People. or mannerisms that remind you of your 3rd grade teacher. yet provocative leader who is known to say things in a civil way that others may not have the courage to say. but when the issues are that important and also that persistent. the longer we ignore a situation. The more you can see them as separate from yourself. It's just the way they are. They're unpredictable. We assume everyone must think and behave like we do and if they don't. Bramson suggests: 1. Distance yourself from them by taking a detached.blues Flexibl e work hours Extended hours/shortened work week Job sharing Telecommuting On-site daycare Take home meals On site dry cleaning Vote • Human behavior experts. Stop wishing they were different. the less likely you'll be to interpret their behavior as being a personal attack against you." has categorized them into 6 types and recommends the following strategies for working more effectively with them: (Click on the personality type to read the coping strategies) • • • • • • Hostile/Aggressive The Complainer Silent/Unresponsive Super-Agreeable Negativist Know it All Expert Bottom of Form Deal With It Or Know When to Let Go? Typically." So. 2. how should we proceed? Dr. we assume they're doing it on purpose to irritate us! 3. it may be a response to something quite specific about them like their hair. He believes. etc. In other words. impersonal view. Assess the situation. it's to our advantage to develop and practice effective conflict management practices that facilitate discussion yet do not dissolve into highly charged emotional exchanges. the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations is a soft-spoken. They exhibit this type of behavior most of the time. perfume. however. and move forward in a rational and perhaps more organized manner. Robert M. you had nothing to do with it! 4. Bramson.weak. the worse it gets rarely does it "give up" and go away! Clearly.

Inc. Your best option may be to withdraw from the relationship." Perhaps you recognize more damage could be done to your own mental health and selfesteem by participating in any interaction with this person. and yes. coaching and consulting firm specializing in workplace relations and professional development issues. © Copyright 2000 . and arrogant. "You can't fill up when you're holding your breath. We get to choose whom we allow to take up space in our lives. Her programs include. or moving far away from your grown children.com 000727e5-sp000 Bottom of Form Email this page to a friend Career Corner .com.laurabenjamin. They tend to be abusive. accusatory. You are not a victim! Do the opposite of what they expect. or visit her website at www." an international speaking.com.interaction versus getting caught up in a cycle of frustrated expectations." You can't fill up with life. divorcing your spouse. Choose a time when the difficult person is not under excessive stress or obligation. arbitrary. Time your response carefully. In the final analysis." Contact her by phone: 719-266-8088. and as Anne Lamott also so eloquently said. email: laura@laurabenjamin. abrupt. intimidating. BlueSuitMom is a Registered Trademark of BSM Media About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Advertise With Us The Hostile/Aggressive By Laura Benjamin This is the bully who always needs to be right.com. Top of Form Search BlueSuitMom." "Call of the Wild…Dealing with Difficult People. BlueSuitMom. and laughter when important parts of you are simultaneously being drained away! Also see:  How can a coach help a working mom like me?  Negiotating a larger salary package Laura Benjamin is the owner of "Laura Benjamin International. People are less resilient and flexible when under stress." and "A Manager's Guide to Developing Your People. that could mean you consider quitting your job. eating lunch with a different crowd. love. consider whether or not you have the time and energy to "engage. They value high levels of self-confidence and aggressiveness and demean those who don't possess them.2007. training. 5. "Got STRESS? Balancing Work & Life.

"Got STRESS? Balancing Work & Life.blues Flexibl e work hours Extended hours/shortened work week Job sharing Telecommuting On-site daycare Take home meals On site dry cleaning . email: laura@laurabenjamin." "Call of the Wild…Dealing with Difficult People.") If you allow a fight to escalate you'll never win against these people and you may end up losing the war." Contact her by phone: 719-266-8088.Story Continues Below Ad Coping Strategies: • Stand up to them without fighting by assertively expressing your opinion ("In my opinion." and "A Manager's Guide to Developing Your People. firmly call them by name." an international speaking. Be prepared for friendly overtures as soon as they view you as worthy of respect. The Complainer Silent/Unresponsive Super-Agreeable Negativist Know it All Expert • • In a Man's World • Professional Organizations • Company Seminars • Career Archive • Small Business Advice • Online Job Search • Entrepreneur's Corner • Sign Up For Our Newsletter • Other personality types: • • • • • Laura Benjamin is the owner of "Laura Benjamin International. or visit her website at www.com. Her programs include. training. get them to sit down and don't sit until they do. Ask an Expert • Image Consultant • Career Coach • Work/Life Coach • Business Coach • Work at Home • Professional Organizer • Emotional Wellness • Business Advisor Career Poll What is the most important benefit your employer can offer you? Top of Form 37 http://w w w .com. Take unpredictable actions to get their attention: drop a book. stand up. I disagree with you.laurabenjamin. coaching and consulting firm specializing in workplace relations and professional development issues.

ask open-ended questions. blaming.2007.com 000727e5-sp000 Bottom of Form Email this page to a friend Story Continues Below Ad Career Corner Coping Strategies: • Break the self-fulfilling cycle of passivity. Inc. Top of Form Search BlueSuitMom.Vote View results Bottom of Form © Copyright 2000 . Agreeing only validates for them that it is your fault and they are blameless. BlueSuitMom. Listen attentively. They may just need to blow off steam. They use an accusatory tone. If all else fails.com. ask them how they would like the discussion to end. BlueSuitMom is a Registered Trademark of BSM Media About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Advertise With Us The Complainer By Laura Benjamin They avoid taking responsibility. Be prepared to interrupt and take control. which could provide information that's important to you. coaching and consulting firm specializing in workplace What is the most . and powerlessness by insisting on a problem solving approach. but may be some legitimacy to their complaints. Don't agree. and assign them to fact-finding tasks. These are the people who find fault with everything. fatalistic." an international speaking. Ask for complaints in writing. what results do they want to achieve? Hostile/Aggressive Silent/Unresponsive Super-Agreeable Negativist Know it All Expert • • • • • In a Man's World • Professional Organizations • Company Seminars • Career Archive • Small Business Advice • Online Job Search • Entrepreneur's Corner • Sign Up For Our Newsletter Other personality types: • • • • • Ask an Expert • Image Consultant • Career Coach • Work/Life Coach • Business Coach • Work at Home • Professional Organizer • Emotional Wellness • Business Advisor Career Poll Laura Benjamin is the owner of "Laura Benjamin International. Pin them down to the specifics. morally perfect. training. and self-righteous. and come across as powerless.

" Apply a friendly. BlueSuitMom is a Registered Trademark of BSM Media About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Advertise With Us The Silent/Unresponsive By Laura Benjamin These people limit risk and seek safety by refusing to respond. and are often non-committal despite the fact that something is definitely wrong. important benefit your employer can offer you? Top of Form 37 http://w w w . or visit her website at www. BlueSuitMom. silent stare toward the person • In a Man's World • Professional Organizations • Company Seminars .blues Flexibl e work hours Extended hours/shortened work week Job sharing Telecommuting On-site daycare Take home meals On site dry cleaning Vote Bottom of Form View results © Copyright 2000 .com." "Call of the Wild…Dealing with Difficult People. Top of Form Search BlueSuitMom.com.com 000727e5-sp000 Bottom of Form Email this page to a friend Story Continues Below Ad Career Corner Coping Strategies: • • Get them to talk by asking open-ended questions beginning with "how" and "what." Contact her by phone: 719-266-8088.laurabenjamin. "Got STRESS? Balancing Work & Life.2007." and "A Manager's Guide to Developing Your People. Inc. email: laura@laurabenjamin. They use this form of calculated aggression to avoid facing their fears.com.relations and professional development issues. Her programs include.

or impatient? Set time limits and be prepared for an "I don't know" response. and allow them be vague (it may lead to their main issue). silent stare and wait for a response." Contact her by phone: 719-266-8088. and list the actions you will take if effective communication doesn't occur. "It appears our meeting is at an impasse. Am I misinterpreting? Am I wrong that you're feeling uncomfortable." an international speaking. Flexibl e work hours Extended hours/shortened work week Job sharing Telecommuting On-site daycare Take home meals On site dry cleaning Vote Bottom of Form View results . Don't be tempted to fill the space with words to ease your own discomfort.and hold it. avoid a polite ending by stating you intend to revisit the issue again. coaching and consulting firm specializing in workplace relations and professional development issues. angry. If they don't respond." and "A Manager's Guide to Developing Your People. You may either assume it's genuine or it's a stalling tactic and reply. If the clam opens up. or visit her website at www. then ask: • • • • Are you concerned about my reaction? How do you think I'll react? You look distressed/worried/concerned. "Got STRESS? Balancing Work & Life." "Call of the Wild…Dealing with Difficult People. Her programs include. email: laura@laurabenjamin. be attentive." Return to the friendly. Comment on the fact you find it interesting they're refusing to communicate.com. training.com. demonstrate active listening. Hostile/Aggressive The Complainer Super-Agreeable Negativist Know it All Expert • Career Archive • Small Business Advice • Online Job Search • Entrepreneur's Corner • Sign Up For Our Newsletter • Ask an Expert • Image Consultant • Career Coach • Work/Life Coach • Business Coach • Work at Home • Professional Organizer • Emotional Wellness • Business Advisor Career Poll What is the most important benefit your employer can offer you? Top of Form Other personality types: • • • • • 37 http://w w w . State you assume their lack of response means X to you.laurabenjamin.blues Laura Benjamin is the owner of "Laura Benjamin International. annoyed.

Require them to cite specifics rather than make sweeping generalizations. Offer examples of past successes." and "A Manager's Guide to Developing Your People. coaching and consulting firm specializing in workplace relations and professional development issues.com. They may be angry and resentful most of the time. You won't get far by making it a "win/lose" battle. Her programs include. Don't argue with them or embarrass them. Allow them to play the role of "reality checker" by analyzing what could go wrong. Show that some alternatives are worth trying by saying." an international speaking." Hostile/Aggressive The Complainer Silent/Unresponsive Super-Agreeable Know it All Expert • • • • Other personality types: • • • • • Ask an Expert • Image Consultant • Career Coach • Work/Life Coach • Business Coach • Work at Home • Professional Organizer • Emotional Wellness • Business Advisor Career Poll What is the most important benefit your employer can offer you? Top of Form Laura Benjamin is the owner of "Laura Benjamin International. easily deflate optimism.com. They are convinced they have little power over their own lives and believe those who do have power cannot be trusted to act reasonably or consistently. training. Top of Form Search BlueSuitMom.2007. assertive optimism. "Got STRESS? Balancing Work & Life. BlueSuitMom. immovable barriers. The impact these people have on others can be contagious unless you meet it directly with confident. BlueSuitMom is a Registered Trademark of BSM Media About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Advertise With Us Negativist By Laura Benjamin These people have been deeply disappointed in life and are unable to work through it. tend to throw cold water on every idea. They've lost trust. "I have faith that we haven't tried everything. and believe in absolute. or visit her website at 37 . Inc.com 000727e5-sp000 Bottom of Form Email this page to a friend Career Corner Story Continues Below Ad • In a Man's World • Professional Organizations • Company Seminars • Career Archive • Small Business Advice • Online Job Search • Entrepreneur's Corner • Sign Up For Our Newsletter Coping Strategies: • Recognize your own vulnerability to discouragement. email: laura@laurabenjamin." "Call of the Wild…Dealing with Difficult People.© Copyright 2000 ." Contact her by phone: 719-266-8088.

Be personal without being phony and let them know you value them as people. BlueSuitMom is a Registered Trademark of BSM Media About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Advertise With Us Super-Agreeable By Laura Benjamin This is the "people-pleaser" who over-promises and never delivers. They will tell you things that are good to hear and then let you down by making unrealistic commitments. sociable. Inc. Don't allow them to over-commit or take on more than they can handle.www.2007. Ask for feedback on things that might interfere with your good relationship. BlueSuitMom.com 000727e5-sp000 Bottom of Form Email this page to a friend Story Continues Below Ad Career Corner Coping Strategies: • Make honesty non-threatening.laurabenjamin. They avoid conflict at all costs.blues Flexibl e work hours Extended hours/shortened work week Job sharing Telecommuting On-site daycare Take home meals On site dry cleaning Vote Bottom of Form View results © Copyright 2000 .com. and very attentive. are outgoing. http://w w w .com. personal with others. Ask for their opinion without jeopardizing your acceptance of them as individuals. • • • • In a Man's World • Professional Organizations • Company Seminars • Career Archive • Small Business Advice • Online Job Search • Entrepreneur's Corner • Sign Up For Our Newsletter . Top of Form Search BlueSuitMom.

Her programs include. or visit her website at www.laurabenjamin. coaching and consulting firm specializing in workplace relations and professional development issues.com. BlueSuitMom is a Registered Trademark of BSM Media About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Advertise With Us ." an international speaking.it often masks their true feelings. "Got STRESS? Balancing Work & Life.com. training." "Call of the Wild…Dealing with Difficult People.2007. Career Poll What is the most important benefit your employer can offer you? Top of Form 37 http://w w w . email: laura@laurabenjamin.• Pay attention to their humor . Hostile/Aggressive The Complainer Silent/Unresponsive Negativist Know it All Expert Other personality types: • • • • • Ask an Expert • Image Consultant • Career Coach • Work/Life Coach • Business Coach • Work at Home • Professional Organizer • Emotional Wellness • Business Advisor Laura Benjamin is the owner of "Laura Benjamin International. BlueSuitMom." and "A Manager's Guide to Developing Your People. Inc." Contact her by phone: 719-266-8088.blues Flexibl e work hours Extended hours/shortened work week Job sharing Telecommuting On-site daycare Take home meals On site dry cleaning Vote Bottom of Form View results © Copyright 2000 .com.

Top of Form Search BlueSuitMom. They possess an aura of personal authority and sense of power. pompous. it shows you respect their expertise. No one knows more than they do in their opinion! Hostile/Aggressive The Complainer Silent/Unresponsive Super-Agreeable Negativist • In a Man's World • Professional Organizations • Company Seminars • Career Archive • Small Business Advice • Online Job Search • Entrepreneur's Corner • Sign Up For Our Newsletter • • • Ask an Expert • Image Consultant • Career Coach • Work/Life Coach • Business Coach • Work at Home • Professional Organizer • Emotional Wellness • Business Advisor • Career Poll What is the most important benefit your employer can offer you? Top of Form Other personality types: • • • • • 37 http://w w w . Listen actively and acknowledge. "Got STRESS? Balancing Work & Life. If you must point out an error or omission. and sometimes make you feel like an idiot. imposing. You must do your homework. Often described as "bulldozers. and a tone of absolute certainty. and seek respect through acknowledged competence.The Know it All Expert By Laura Benjamin They have a strong need for security in an unpredictable world.com 000727e5-sp000 Bottom of Form Email this page to a friend Career Corner Story Continues Below Ad Coping Strategies: • Help them consider alternative views while avoiding direct challenges to their expertise. and make sure your information is accurate and complete. do it by questioning firmly with confidence and ask for clarification by saying. Her programs include." and "A Manager's Guide to Flexibl e work hours Extended hours/shortened work week . They are usually right and will confront those who question their logic with a data "dump" that leaves others overwhelmed." an international speaking. Don't 'ball park' it or they will dismiss you as incompetent." they are highly productive. coaching and consulting firm specializing in workplace relations and professional development issues. training.blues Laura Benjamin is the owner of "Laura Benjamin International. discuss facts in an orderly manner. thorough. value facts and logic. They can be condescending. and accurate. "How will that look 5 years from now? Resist the temptation to assert your own expert credentials." "Call of the Wild…Dealing with Difficult People. It won't work. Paraphrase rather than interrupt.

everyone loses.Developing Your People. BlueSuitMom is a Registered Trademark of BSM Media About Us | Contact Us | Privacy It's a New Year: Improve Your Productivity The end of the year is a classic opportunity to look back over how things have been going and look forward to see how they could improve. Inside BlueSuitMom..laurabenjamin. No Child Left Inside Help your children get or stay healthy by getting out and moving around! Children not only discover nature's wonders in a unique way during each outing. Read on . promotion. You can get a head start on the process.com . Getting What You Want: Talking to the Boss Shorter hours.com. the early bird will beat the rush with the IRS) while all the procrastinators out there are still scrambling to dig up old receipts and complete IRS forms. including your employer. Recent Videos Get Organized for Tax Time Imagine kicking back with your refund already in hand (yes.com. By putting yourself in tax mode nice and early. Otherwise. So. a pay raise. These are all reasons to initiate a talk with the boss. which derive from lack of movement. BlueSuitMom. Use our seven quick tips the next time you need to speak with your boss. But remember this when approaching your boss about changing something in the workplace: Your boss's number-one priority is to make sure you are satisfied enough to do your job well.com. Read on to find out how to help your kids to get out and get active.. Job sharing Telecommuting On-site daycare Take home meals On site dry cleaning Vote View results Bottom of Form © Copyright 2000 . and financially organized once and for all. with lots of time between now and April.2007. email: laura@laurabenjamin.let's make the most of it! Read on for tips and suggestions to improve your productivity. change of title. Instead of grabbing the next bag of chips and watching excessive TV. let's make this the year to get caught up. your kids will quickly get in the habit of wanting to get outside. you can DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of stress in your life down the road. Inc. but it is also a great way for them to avoid obesity and ailments. straightened out." Contact her by phone: 719-266-8088. January brings that fresh start that we all long for . or visit her website at www.

Sleep: Don't leave home without it 3. you will learn to Take a strategic approach to discussions – to get more of what you want Remain polite and friendly – even in difficult circumstances Handle emotions safely – both yours and your conversation partners Take pre-emptive steps .to stop the discussions becoming difficult Deal more confidently with the toughest of situations Contact us Future Focus Project Access Downloads The organisation was about to change its identity – a new name. with far tougher targets. Whether it is with our clients. To counter the fear factor and the rumours. our bosses. under new ownership. they asked us to design a positive event to mark the start of the new era – the Capita L+D Future Focus day. Join Mailing list Tips and Techniques 1.” Business owner. Course Outcomes “We are at the blunt end of dealing with clients in properties over 200k where there is a slow market at present.Family: Putting the Fun back into Potty Training Career: Your Brand Is Everything Money: 3 Quick Tips to Avoid Impulse Purchases Time for You: Take Break and Rejuvenate Health: The 5 Essential Summer Weight Loss Tips Food: How to Outsmart Your Picky Eater Travel: Selecting a Family Travel Destination Email this page to a friend Difficult Conversations We all experience difficult discussions from time to time. Caffeine: A surprisingly subtle stressor 2. How to stop unwanted thoughts . Your approach has given the staff a positive way of dealing with 'no activity' properties. our colleagues. so we can resolve it with the best outcomes for both the agreement and for our relationships. Lancaster University LEAD programme participant • • • • • • During this intensive and practical two-day training. And sometimes we have to deal with conflict – and do our best to prevent it escalating. we want to get the best out of our conversations.

I found him less abrasive and irritating than I'd expected. Dealing with difficult people 15. . That was a turning point. Stop giving power to abusive people 17. If you can't "optimize". His behaviour and mannerisms didn't change. The power of permission 24. I realized that he wasn't arrogant or smug at all. Social support: Why and how? 21. During our several hours together I found myself lightening up and kibitzing a bit. In fact. then "neutralize" 13. Long distance worrying 9. smug. It was a lesson in how easy it is for us to misinterpret other people and to react not to who they are. He also seemed to have a very condescending and patronizing manner that I found very offensive. but my view of them changed totally. he was extremely shy and soft-spoken and what I had taken to be arrogance was a combination of shyness and the way he compensated for his social unease. He responded and by the end of the afternoon we had made a real breakthrough. I found him extremely arrogant. Most importantly. Stop giving power to other people 16. Do you have trouble making decisions? 5.It's your choice Take me back to the Resource Centre index Dealing with difficult people Early in my training I encountered a doctor who triggered a tremendous amount of stress in me. but to our interpretations and judgements of them. The importance of social support 20. he actually became one of my favourite people and we became real friends. As I got to know him I enjoyed him more and more. What did you expect? (Managing your expectations) 7. Reframing: The upside of a "crisis" 12. More ideas for making decisions 6. It was bad enough that I had to periodically encounter him in some of my training rotations. I couldn't imagine how I'd get through the ordeal.4. He asked me to work with him on a long case and I found myself feeling flattered by the request. How I learned to meditate 18. Relaxation techniques 19. Communication aggravation 22. Be careful what you say 8. Then something amazing happened. and full of himself. The art of reframing 10. Attitude is everything 11. but the capper came when I was assigned to his service for two months. but it got even better. As we started to work together. In the final ironic twist. Good health . Communication aggravation (part two) 23. Reframing other people's behaviour 14.

and I gave it up. After that. In effect. the better you understand them.. Appeasement may be necessary at times (to avoid a scene. It would have been too obvious if I'd turned around and gone the other way. One day I found myself walking towards this person with not another soul around. He was sullen. but not the only one. she started to realize that appeasement wasn't really easier at all. In fact. domineering. if you avoid people who are still in your orbit you may find yourself looking over your shoulder to make sure they're not nearby. for example). This can be stressful in itself. determined not to make eye contact with him. Sleep: don't leave home without it How long does it take you to fall asleep at night? I used to pride myself on being able to fall asleep in a nanosecond. All material copyrighted. particularly if you work or live with them. However. It won't help you to develop better coping strategies. Posen M. saying that "being a pleaser is easier. "Hey." However. One is that it's not always possible to avoid people. "Am I getting enough sleep?" here are some criteria to help you decide: • • • Do you need an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning? Or. I'll explore other (better) ways of dealing with difficult people. This is the "line of least resistance" often employed by "pleasers. "I can fall asleep on a dime!" Only recently did I realize that what I was really saying was. Even if you don't end up liking a person.D. you could actually end up magnifying your stress when you do see them.This experience taught me something very important about dealing with difficult people: that the more you learn about them. abrasive and generally disliked and I wanted nothing to do with him. Appraisal of where they're coming from and what makes them tick is an excellent way of dealing with difficult people. she gave tacit permission to the other person to continue to be controlling. The third problem is that you don't learn how to deal with the person if you simply skirt around the problem. there are four problems with this approach. I was going to show him what a jerk I thought he was! Well. It perpetuated her upset and gave her friend the impression that her behaviour was acceptable. and bossy. guess whose stress level went up with every step? As I passed him. And where this is feasible.. I noted with dismay (and. I realized avoidance was a "losing game" . I used to snap my fingers and say. Let's look at some others. I felt more stress when I couldn't avoid him. So I kept walking. David B. In my next columns. And fourth. Second. As a society we are short-changing ourselves on sleep by about 60-90 minutes a night. frankly. So. Avoidance: An obvious way of dealing with stressful people is to just stay away from them. but isn't a great strategy on an ongoing basis. I learned this lesson years ago when I ran into someone I'd been studiously and stubbornly ignoring. two alarm clocks the one close enough to hit the snooze button and the one across the room that makes you get out of bed to turn it off? Do you wake up feeling refreshed or tired? How is your daytime energy? Do you find yourself running out of steam halfway through the day? . it usually works. some amusement) what a lousy strategy I'd concocted." One of my patients used this approach with an aggressive friend of hers. I'm sleep deprived!" Let me explain. It keeps you feeling powerless and victimized. getting to know him or her can lessen the feelings of tension. If you're wondering. Appeasement: This is where you concede to the other person and give them what they want in order to avoid conflict.

How much sleep do you get when you don't have to wake up? (E.g. on weekends or when you're on vacation.)

This is the one I didn't know about until recently: How quickly do you fall asleep at night? This is the criterion used by sleep researchers and it's called "the sleep latency period." For normal, well-rested people, this transition period between waking and sleep takes about 15-20 minutes. If you fall asleep in less than 10-minutes - and, especially, in less than five minutes you are, by definition, sleep deprived. When patients complain about fatigue, I always begin by asking two questions: • • How much sleep are you getting at night? The answer is often "Six to seven hours." How much sleep do you need to function at your best? (Not how much can you get away with, but how much do you really need to be at the top of your game?). Usually the answer is a decisive, "eight."

Now, I'm sitting here like Sherlock Holmes, trying to make a diagnosis, and I've just heard an important clue. If they need eight hours and are getting only six or seven, the simplest solution is to start getting more sleep. How much sleep do we need? Most adults need 8-9 hours a night, which is what people were getting until 1913 when Thomas Edison perfected the tungsten filament incandescent light bulb - artificial light. Today we average about seven hours a night even though we haven't changed physiologically in the last 87 years. But we're cheating ourselves of sleep in order to work, watch TV, socialize, etc. It hasn't been very good tradeoff. What's The Cost of Sleep Deprivation? • • • • • The damage caused by sleep deprivation is much greater than we realize. We fall asleep while driving--- in the United States, 100,000 road accidents a year are attributed to sleepy drivers. We become more prone to infection (because our immune system is stimulated during sleep). We make mistakes on the job which can cause injury or financial loss. Our concentration and short- term memory are impaired and intellectual function is diminished.

In a Toronto Star article on sleep last year, Dr. Stanley Coren, a University of British Columbia psychologist, said: "One hour's lost sleep out of eight results in a drop of one point of I.Q. and for every additional hour lost, you drop two points. And it accumulates. So if you cheat on sleep by two hours a night over a five-day week, you've lost 15 points." Perhaps even more importantly, sleep deprivation affects our mood. We become irritable and depressed. Interestingly, many of the symptoms of sleep deprivation are also symptoms of stress. Tired people are less resilient, less adaptable and flexible, less tolerant of irritation and frustration. Going to work without proper rest is like starting your day with one foot in a hole. Sleep Debt The difference between the amount of sleep we need and the amount of sleep we get is called "sleep debt." If you need eight hours a night but only get seven, you have a sleep debt of one hour. However, as Dr. Coren points out in his best-selling book "Sleep Thieves," if this continues for a week, you now have an accumulated sleep debt of seven hours. The effect is similar to losing all seven hours in the same night. The good news is that you can repay the sleep debt. So if you fall behind, a few consecutive nights of full, uninterrupted sleep will usually return you to full function.

Four years ago I stopped setting my alarm and simply woke up when my body was ready. Of course, I had to go to bed early enough to wake up naturally and still not be late for work. The result has been dramatic. I feel profoundly better every day for doing this. And so do my patients who have started getting the sleep they need. So, if you're walking through your day like a zombie, feeling cranky and having trouble concentrating, assess your sleep situation and start getting the amount you need. Go to bed a half-hour earlier for a week and see what happens. Add another half-hour the next week and continue until you can wake up naturally and refreshed. A good night's sleep is the best way to start your day. Don't leave home without it!
All material copyrighted, David B. Posen M.D.

How to stop unwanted thoughts This story has a dozen versions. Pictures of work, piled high on your desk, dance through your mind at night. Or you've just had an argument with someone and can't get it out of your head. Maybe you have money worries, a sick child, a nagging boss or mice in the basement. Whatever the problem or problems, the thoughts just won't go away. How do you get rid of this infernal racket in your head? There is a technique for stopping stressful thoughts that is deceptively simple and it really works. You know what it's like to listen to someone go on and on about a particular issue. Eventually you get irritated and think, "I wish he'd stop already!" In a way, this is what happens when the inner voice in your head talks excessively. Perhaps you're mulling over a problem, or ruminating about a past event. You analyze it in minute detail, worry incessantly or even wallow in self-pity. The technique for dealing with this stressful monologue (in which you are both the talker and the listener) is called "Thought-Stopping." Just as you might say to a friend, "Can we talk about something else?" or even "Knock it off," you use a similar approach with yourself. Yell something sharp and loud and jarring at yourself to interrupt the flow of stressful conversation. Try words like, "Stop it!" "Enough!" "Cut it out!" "Cool it!" Use a forceful voice to really grab your attention. (Obviously. It's a good idea to do this when you're alone, otherwise you may alarm your family or co-workers!) Practise it in your car, in the shower, or when you're home by yourself. Try it for a few days to get the full impact. Then gradually quiet the messages until they're silent. I use the phrase, "That's enough, David!" when I catch myself with unwanted and unpleasant thoughts. Another phrase in vogue these days is, "Don't go there!" Anything's fine, as long as it stops you in your tracks. One of our hospital nurses taught me this variation. Place an elastic band around your wrist and, when you notice upsetting thoughts, snap the elastic gently - for impact, not pain - as you say, "Stop it!" or "Enough." Three tips here: make sure the elastic band isn't too tight; snap it on the back of your wrist (the hairy part), not the sensitive underside; and don't pull the thing back like a slingshot to give yourself a huge welt - a small gentle snap is all that's needed. Thought-stopping, however, is only half the story. If you use the technique and then sit there in a vacuum, the unwanted thoughts will likely return. So the second part of the exercise is to use some form of diversion or distraction. This can be a form of "thought substitution" where you purposely start thinking about something else - pleasant activities for the weekend, who to invite for lunch, or gift ideas for

an upcoming birthday. Or you might think about your next vacation or the trip you took last summer. Thought-stopping and thought substitution are especially useful if you waken at night with thoughts about work and have trouble shutting off the voice. This is where the elastic band works especially well (Rather than yelling "Stop It" and scaring your bed partner half to death!) If you can't get back to sleep, just lie quietly and think relaxing or pleasant thoughts. One of my favourite images is lying on the beach at Paradise Island in the Bahamas, seeing very clearly in my mind the white sand, the turquoise-blue water, the bright sunshine and palm trees waving gently in the breeze. It's a restful picture that helps me drift back to sleep. Another way to keep unwanted thoughts from recurring during the day is to use some form of physical diversion. Pick up the phone and call a friend, grab a magazine or read through your mail, turn on the radio or TV; have something to eat; do a crossword puzzle or focus your mind on something stimulating and challenging. The amazing thing about thought-stopping and thought substitution is that, simple as they are, they're very effective. Patients have left me voice mail messages over the years in which they've added at the end, "And by the way, tell David that thought-stopping really works!" It also illustrates the extent to which we can take control of our own minds and thinking. We can't stop thoughts from popping into our heads, but we certainly can choose how long to put up with them and how involved we want to get with them. You can change the way you feel by changing the way you think. Just knowing that fact is in itself very empowering. It's another reminder that we have more control than we think.
All material copyrighted, David B. Posen M.D.

Do you have trouble making decisions?
A friend of mine likes to tell the story about the time she and I went shopping in Los Angeles to find me a new bathing suit. We went to a couple of stores and looked at tons of bathing suits. I just couldn't decide. There was a lot to choose from - bathing trunks in every style and color imaginable. My friend was unbelievably tolerant and patient. Later, of course, I realized how close she must have been to tearing her hair out - or mine. You'd have thought I was buying a beach house - not beach wear! When I look back on that strange day, I think there were two problems: they had far too many choices and nothing really felt suitable (pardon the pun). Stuck with what felt like a bunch of second choices, I simply couldn't make up my mind. The irony is that I made the decision to change careers within days and I bought my last car within hours of test driving the one that fit my fancy. There are times we just know that the decision feels right and there's not much left to debate. At other times (often with more trivial choices), we can dither endlessly. Difficulty making decisions (or indecisiveness) is one of many stress symptoms discussed in an earlier column. I always ask new patients if they have trouble making decisions. One day a man paused, then said, "Well, yes and no..." I quickly wrote down, "Has trouble making decisions." However, difficulty making decisions can also be a source of stress in that uncertainty can lead to feelings of insecurity and confusion. The amount of choice we have in today's world is staggering. Walk into a supermarket to buy salad dressing and there are dozens to choose from. Compare that with my shopping experience in the Arctic in 1968. First of all, there was only one store - The Hudson Bay Company. And they sold only three kinds of salad dressing: Kraft Italian, French, and

Shopping at The Bay in Inuvik was a five-minute experience. For example. Permanent separation G. Use a "Ben Franklin Balance Sheet. There was minimal debate. but work on the marriage and try to make it better. Apparently Ben . Life was simpler then. 2. Number the remaining items in order of preference and then decide which option to pursue. We set up a grid sheet with four quadrants as shown in the diagram. One day we discussed selling it. Stay put and accept the status quo. B. it does help to clarify the issues. 1. Over my years as a physician.just make the most comprehensive list you can. the options aren't just simply to stay or leave. Here are some approaches that I've found helpful. we had explored the issue much more fully than in our previous general discussions and the decision became clearer. the process can be as important as the final decision. I've helped patients struggle with big and very difficult decisions (such as whether or not to leave a marriage. Another thing.' you actually generate different ideas in the various lists. Divorce. Take an issue you're struggling with and list all the pros and cons of each option. Then we listed all the pros and cons we could think of for "Keeping the Place" and for "Selling the Place. Don't edit yourself at this stage . D. I assist them with the process and help them live with whatever decision they make. eliminate those that are unacceptable to you. in a severe marriage conflict." I've used this helpful technique for years with patients and in my own life. C. For example. While I can't decide for them. After you've listed your options. and no second-guessing afterward. Trial separation F. By the end of the exercise. Not all the factors will be of equal importance. or sell a house)." You might expect that all the "pros" of one option would simply be repeated in the "cons" of the other. We also weighed the pros and cons of keeping the property but renting it out. Stay in the marriage and get professional counseling. Even when the balance sheet doesn't give you a clear answer. In this sense. You can deal with this by highlighting the most significant points or by using a rating scale. we had a condo up in cottage country that we felt ambivalent about (especially the 3hour drive). but live separate lives. Stay in the marriage. Stay together.Thousand Island. But by shifting your mind set from 'staying' to 'leaving. A list might look like this: A. List all the options you can think of to solve a problem. quit a job. Then formulate a plan of action. E.

One of my patients was so taken by the new man in her life that. I wouldn't touch it. More ideas for making decisions. With great anguish she decided to end the relationship before she got in any deeper. Listen to your heart. This is understandable and probably unavoidable. if things didn't get better. why are they paying a 4% premium?" and "How much are you planning to invest?" I said. . Use the 80/20 rule. "Do you want to go two out of three?" I asked. she realized that her reaction was an indication of her true preference. if you have 80% of the information you need.000. she was still tremendously attracted to him. However. downside risks. 7. "Let's stop looking for a good solution---there isn't one. Ask what's the best and the worst that can happen? Then weigh upside benefits vs. the decision was easy. 6. A friend called me about a hot investment tip---a secure second mortgage paying 4% higher than current rates. Here's a story where the upside benefit exceeded the downside risk." In that moment. we tend to go by gut reaction and emotion. Just pick the one that's least bad". Speaking up had a potential upside of resolving his problems whereas the downside risk was minimal because he had one foot out the door anyway. changes were made. David B. I suggested we change our perspective. A patient was very unhappy in his job but wondered whether he should say anything about his grievances. One of my patients was struggling with a decision and finally I said. But your downside risk is that you could lose the whole $5." As soon as she saw that it was tails. She quickly said. he'd reached a point where. So he talked to his employer.Franklin ranked each item on the "pros" side from +1 to +10 and each item in the "cons" list -1 to -10. But her rational self started to admit that there were incompatibilities that were going to pose huge problems down the line. Emotionally. a month after their first date. but give your head a vote. Finally..000. "Okay. As she learned more about him warning bells started to go off in her head. A patient was struggling with a difficult decision. He then calculated the totals to get a numerical answer. and he happily stayed with the company.. Posen M. she moved in with him. 5. He wanted things to improve but was afraid of making waves." He did the math: "The extra 4% would only increase your return by $200 a year (your upside potential benefit). often without having all the information. 4. Why don't we just flip a coin?" She said. when it comes to major decisions. you've got enough to make the decision. "It sounds like a tie to me. you should also listen to your rational side. Imagine you've already made the decision and then notice how you feel. Don't look for the perfect decision. I bounced it off my brother who is very wise in these matters. "$5. All material copyrighted. But. 8. 3. decisions have to be made quickly." Put in those terms. her face dropped. "Yeah. In relationships. He asked two questions: "If it's so secure. A rough rule of thumb is that. Listen to your intuition. We listed all her options and every one of them had serious drawbacks. he was planning to leave. In today's fast-moving business world.D.

9. but sometimes it comes from the deepest part of your wisdom and you need to listen. understood this better than I did when I was getting frustrated with our computer. a lot of our stress reactions work like that: it's not the event itself that upsets us. frustration. Conversely. then 12. Strong emotion can skew your judgement and make it hard to see things clearly. David B. To this day I don't know whether we got a good deal or not. Guess who had the stress? . it so exceeded our expectations that we accepted on the spot. the situation and/or the future. don't get upset. The next time you're in a state of indecision. Posen M. or even anger.that's another thing I'm angry about. but it's unrealistic given his track record over the years. Unrealistic expectations about: A. "Daddy. It might also help to bounce your thinking off a trusted friend or professional person to get their perspective. they're like a trap that we unwittingly set for ourselves.e. We all have expectations . On the other hand. Situations Do you get upset every time your computer glitches? Do you get ticked off when the computer help line puts you on hold for ten minutes? How about when your car-phone signal breaks up or cuts out in tunnels or bad weather? How do you feel when your airline departure is delayed---again? These are some realities of life in the age of technology. But when they're unrealistic.D. All material copyrighted. What did you expect? When we decided to re-do our kitchen we wondered what to do with the cupboards." His expectations were realistic . when people are depressed their judgement is influenced by negative thoughts about themselves. my son." It's tempting to ignore that voice. A few years ago. I don't think it's going to happen. If you've ignored this voice in the past to your regret then it would be smart to take heed. "Not very much . consider some of these ideas. She had no answer.There are times when the little voice in your head keeps saying." She agreed and her anger slowly dissolved. "I don't think this is a good idea. A woman was upset that her recently-separated husband wasn't calling or seeing the children. Don't make major decisions when you're angry or depressed. if your internal voice has been overly cautious and you've missed some wonderful opportunities. When he offered $900. they haven't worked out all the bugs yet. We were told about a broker who bought used cabinets and who might pay us $500 . but how it compares with our expectations. unlikely to happen). I said: "I think your expectation is perfectly reasonable. It usually pays to delay the decision until you feel better and see the situation more clearly. then you may want to override it on occasion. It's a new technology. When people are angry they may be tempted to punish another person or to do something out of spite." I then asked why she expected him to show more interest in the children than when he'd lived at home.mine weren't.of situations. Look at your previous track record. I asked how much time he'd spent with the kids before the separation. she reduced her stress by matching her expectation to the reality. of other people and of ourselves. But it was much more than we expected so we were happy. And when those expectations are unrealistic (i. Even though his behaviour didn't please her.$600 for them. And if you're shopping for a bathing suit and you don't see anything you like leave the store! And take your fashion advisor with you. we're almost guaranteed to feel some disappointment. Similarly.

His position on the board required far more work than he'd expected. Ourselves People have a tough time if their expectations of themselves are so high that they can't be met. Posen M." (A friend of mine calls this "Roger doing Roger. The reality is that we can't do it all. "You Are What You Say: A Harvard Doctor's Six-Step Proven Program for Transforming Stress Through the Power of Language. 2000) (Movie fans take note: the introduction is written by Patch Adams. depart from. ask yourself why. David B. "Well. that they must always be right and that they should never have a bad day." All these words describe an action without making any character judgements.only that you should "resign. ideally. we won't win every game (including Tiger Woods!). Dr.) After our discussion." and "to stop doing a thing." (Actually. People My patient has a boss who was driving him crazy. And check to see if.especially in sports or schoolwork. his stressful reactions diminished. he was suddenly front and centre to receive the kudos. He's just written an excellent book on this subject called. To lighten his load. We will make mistakes. the dictionary defines "quit" with words like: "to set free. let go. I'd feel like a quitter. maybe. but language also uses us.") I suggested he modify his expectations to conform with reality. he gave notice that he would be leaving his position. So the next time you're upset. no matter what we do. Every week he told me another "Roger" story. One day I said. like them to be." His father had taught him to never give up or surrender in the face of a challenge . "Roger seems to be a model of consistency." Certain words are like stress triggers or hot buttons where other words evoke far less reaction. C. And not everybody is going to like us. I've never quit anything in my life. In the insurance industry there's a rule of thumb that ten cold calls yield three appointments which result in one sale.B. I suggested he consider resigning his position. not as we'd." (Crown Publishers. This story illustrates the connection between language and feelings. As he slowly acknowledged the pattern." "Think of it as making a necessary choice to help you take control of your life and reduce your stress. Among his many activities was volunteer work in a community organization. I learned about the use of language from my mentor at Harvard. The next week he came in with another "Roger" story. He said. "The guy never lets you down. The making of linguistic distinctions can help to reduce stress. "I can't do that. This guy. Roger. I suggested that he not get hung up on the word "quit. and we can't be all things to all people. was generally uninvolved or nowhere to be seen. he actually laughed as he told me another totally predictable story. Perfectionists head this list. I'm not saying you should "quit" . but he told it with a little less upset. I can see why you're irritated by his behaviour. leave. My patient found his behaviour exasperating. These people think that they will never make mistakes. Salesmen know they won't close every sale. you were expecting too much in the first place. That puts the hang-ups and rejections in perspective." By the third visit. a decision with which he now felt comfortable. Listen to this. I heard a phrase once that "we use language. careful what you say One of my highly stressed patients was lamenting the pressures of his overloaded schedule.D. All material copyrighted. he did it again this week!" The following visit he said. But when there was media coverage or they got an award. It's all part of seeing things as they are. It would be easier if we stopped putting such impossible expectations on ourselves. but why are you so surprised each time? Why are you expecting him to behave differently after all these years? Roger's just being himself. . Matthew Budd. discontinue.

"You're rude and inconsiderate.K. ." you'd say. A. He found this distinction helpful and started giving himself permission to do it without selfrebuke or guilt. She had wakened twice in the night worrying about problems at work. "I get upset when you're late for our appointments. blunt or even attacking other people. Refusing If you have trouble saying "No" it may be the language you're using with yourself. many were more general and related to things that won't happen for a long time. Declining vs. All material copyrighted.this is not criticism. It's a terrific book which I highly recommend. Each chapter ends with a summary and exercises you can do as a home study program. indolence. he was in his 70s and retired." Then I convey my message. And while some of the issues were current." It'll feel easier. there's a middle ground between these extremes: being assertive. D. Instead of thinking that you're "adamantly refusing. If giving negative information is difficult for you. Criticism If something bothers me in a restaurant." Now a senior citizen. David B. I felt he was being unfair and hard on himself. where being aggressive does not. he also had three serious diseases which left him tired and in constant pain." The fact is that you can't do everything that's asked of you or you'd quickly become overwhelmed. I find the management is much more receptive if I start with the phrase. Relaxation vs." Or.D. Posen M. I was actually impressed by how well he was functioning and was captivated by his warmth and good humour. It involves telling them how you feel by using "I" statements. Long distance worrying I saw a patient this morning with a very common problem. He'd always been active and busy. B. We all have to draw a line somewhere." Different words generate different mindsets. and aversion to work . Being assertive feels O. I said: "You're just lying down to 'relax' and 'take it easy'. Laziness A patient was deriding himself for his "laziness. C. "I get frustrated when you don't return my phone calls. After all. Here are some distinctions in language that my patients have found helpful. Assertive vs. Feedback vs. So if someone makes a request you can't accept. if at all. Try some of these distinctions in your own life and see if they work for you. That's not 'laziness'". Assertiveness is when you speak up for yourself without putting the other person on the defensive. so he was unhappy with his current situation. think of yourself as "declining" rather than "refusing.none of which applied to him. he found he needed to lie down and rest about an hour after breakfast and again in the afternoon. Aggressive Many people have difficulty speaking up for themselves and expressing their feelings.) It combines profound ideas and up-to-date brain research with a very conversational style and is filled with stories and examples. stop thinking of it as criticism (which feels threatening) and present it as feedback (which is constructive). These are some examples of how the words we use can make a difference in how we feel.M. loud.D. So instead of saying. Aggressive speech involves being forceful. Fortunately. "I'd like to give you some feedback . But. They fear they'll be perceived as aggressive. So they choose to say nothing and become passive. Laziness connotes sloth." (which feels obstinate) think of yourself as "graciously declining.

" "See. Some worrying is normal and inevitable . On a spectrum it looks like this: Here's how I define the difference between worry and concern: WORRY Involves emotion Fear." And there's a corollary: "If there is something to worry about. interest in Solution-oriented . It's also a terrible drain on time and energy. People became hypervigilant to every nuance in the workplace. anxiety Problem-oriented CONCERN Involves the mind Caring about. It's like the story of the guy who's snapping his fingers all the time and somebody asks him." It saved me considerable aggravation." Some people believe that worrying wards off trouble." It's almost as if people are trying to get a head start so they can be miserable for as long as possible. However.especially since most of the things we worry about never come to pass. "Why are you doing that?" "To keep the elephants away. then it's not going to happen. That kind of denial can be irresponsible or even dangerous. fretting. I've developed a philosophy for dealing with fears and unknowns about the future: "Don't worry about things until you know you have something to worry about. I call this "long distance worrying." These mottos have served me and many of my patients very well over time. restructuring or merger. One of my patients calls it "preventive worrying." His philosophy is that if he worries about something. This is a real timewaster . I chose to take a "wait and see" approach and not get caught up in speculation and "what ifs." "There are no elephants within 5000 miles of here. What's the alternative? My antidote for worrying is not to ignore everything and bury your head in the sand. there is a middle ground between complacency and worry: "Concern. It reminds me of the guy who receives a telegram that says: "START WORRYING . You don't have to start early. But some people worry weeks or months in advance.such as when your teenager is still out two hours after curfew. I learned to take a different approach to these matters. you'll have all the time in the world to worry about it then. this can be a difficult notion to dispel.DETAILS TO FOLLOW.Worrying is both a cause and a symptom of stress. Whenever there were rumors of new government policy regarding doctors. Any directive or off-hand remark was seen as a potential tip-off about some change in company policy." One of my patients calls it "borrowing trouble from the future. Since it's impossible to prove a negative. a lot of worrying was about the possibility of job loss either through downsizing." This is another distinction in language that relates to my column last week. it works!" During the 1990s.

There's nothing more that you can do right now." Again I was taken aback. For example. Posen M. There's an exercise that I've been using called "Creative Worrying". opened her workbook and started to participate in the session. even when certain things did happen." If you're a chronic worrier." The moment passed." So. The art of reframing I was presenting a workshop at a conference. remember the words of the French philosopher. What's the worst thing that can happen? What's my greatest fear? 2. but quickly put it out of my mind. there's strike two! She gave me a second chance and I blew it. And just to keep things in perspective. Concern is what I chew on. If it does happen. Sit down with a pen and paper and answer these four questions in writing: 1. you might try this exercise before you crawl into bed. Montaigne: "My life has been a series of catastrophes . you now have a game plan to implement if the worst really does occur. David B. There were about 100 people in my group and things seemed to be going well for the first 20 minutes.(reactive) Stressful. This time I thought: "Well. the alternative to worry is not blanking out your mind to matters of importance. Also notice that. . constructive Helpful In one of my seminars a man put it this way: "Worry is what I choke on. draining Hurtful (proactive) Appropriate. My immediate thought was. File it away and go to bed. An hour later the same woman reappeared.D. What can I do to either prevent it from happening or to prepare for it? Once you've answered these questions. one of several concurrent sessions in the morning to be followed by a gala luncheon. if you're worrying about something at bedtime. How likely is it to happen? What is the likelihood of this actually occurring? 3. I regained my confidence and carried on. review your track record and see that most of the things you worried about didn't happen after all.most of which never happened. Further worry will add absolutely nothing. All material copyrighted. After 15 minutes she again picked up her things and left. you usually dealt with them and landed on your feet. but developing a more constructive and organized approach. sat at the back of the room. Then a woman at the back of the room gathered up her purse and writing materials and quietly walked out. It can be done when you're fretting about a particular issue. what would I do to handle it? What measures would I take to deal with the problem? 4. I must have been a big hit with her. That's a helpful reality check. "Gee.

He had seen an upside to a down situation." I was pleasantly surprised and relieved. "The longer I wait for an acceptance. "Your session was terrific. The technique for doing this is called Reframing. it took me four years to find a publisher." ('The saga of how I overcame adversity') Success is more interesting when it involves struggle. "It'll make a much better story to tell later on than if I'd found a publisher quickly.At lunch. And guess who was sitting with us? She came over to me and said. I'm grateful the manuscript wasn't accepted in its early drafts. Obviously. swollen lymph nodes. if I'd discovered that the woman left my seminar because she thought I was doing a lousy job. I made a housecall on a teen-aged boy who was very sick." As Tom Peters observed: "Feedback is the breakfast of champions. I did a reality check and admitted that it would be pretty unlikely for an unknown author to find a publisher on the first try. I got a little discouraged. A moment ago he looked really sick. it raises an exciting possibility." (which certainly proved true) 3. I'm sorry I couldn't stay.) She continued: "I'm one of the (conference) organizers and it was my job to slip in and out of the sessions to make sure things were under control. "This is a test of my determination and persistence. By changing my thoughts I changed my feelings." She immediately became alarmed and said. Reframing helped me to manage the feelings of frustration and disappointment. but how we interpret them. He had a high fever. So I developed other ways of looking at the situation. Incidentally. We all do this on occasion. By holding the rejections in a different way in my mind's eye. and an enlarged liver and spleen. the process takes time. "This gives me a chance to keep re-working my manuscript. It's one of the most powerful skills in our stress management repertoire. 1. out of the corner of my eye. "Well. spontaneously and by instinct. right!" I thought." He was right about that. That incident became a touchstone for me. But what he had done in that moment was a classic example of reframing." . then we can reduce our stress by changing the way we think. I wish I could have heard more. 4." ("Yeah. In addition. to make it better. I could see your participants were really enjoying themselves. "He's got Mono?" Just then I noticed. that the kid was smiling. And I'm not prepared for either of them. Now I'm off the hook. I would have reframed that too -perhaps by saying. all the speakers were seated at one table. After examining him. For example. raw red sore throat. "I'm pretty sure he has infectious mononucleosis. If stress usually results from the way we think about things. I just want to confirm it with a blood test. I said to his mother." (plus patience and optimism). those letters started to look like rungs on a ladder rather than rebukes from the universe. "What are you smiling about?" He replied: "I have two exams next week. but now he looked pretty happy. a reminder not to jump to conclusions. I'll talk more about reframing next week. When the first rejection letters came in. We all use reframing at times. 2. It also illustrates that most of our stress comes not from events and situations. the more exciting it will be when it finally happens. I guess you can't please everybody all the time. I think it's a much better book because of the time-consuming process that was required. When I was writing my first book. Things aren't always what they seem. He was too sick to go anywhere. but we can learn to do it more consistently and by intention." In retrospect. 5. I asked.

there's nothing we can do about this. that he couldn't handle the pressure. As we walked off the field. And while they worked. We had to cancel and stay home. we planned a Thanksgiving weekend with my sister and her family in Minneapolis.Reframing can be playful. Most people would have wilted long .looking at something from a different perspective to reduce stress. our shortstop said. "You know what guys. We scored three runs before someone flied out to end the game at 17-10. What struck me was how strong you must have been to put up with that grueling schedule and pressure for as long as you did. I decided the situation wasn't so bad after all. I said. "It's interesting that you say that. Mark Twain's hero was given the job of whitewashing a picket fence. If you study "stress-hardy" people. My wife then said. A famous example is the story of Tom Sawyer. It had at least one redeeming feature . Tom relaxed under a tree. There was a pile of books on my night table that I'd been itching to get at for months. He said his leave-of-absence made him feel weak. We were all looking forward to the trip when. We still lost. His strategy was to reframe the activity as being fun rather than a chore. but we can always choose how we think about what happens. To avoid this task.but it cleverly demonstrated that we can look at the same things from different points of view. Attitude is everything In a baseball tournament I played in.000. Here's another example of reframing. "What would I tell a friend in a similar situation?" When my children were small. There are certain questions that can help us to reframe situations: "How else can I look at this?" "How can I put this in a different perspective?" "Are there any positives or benefits to this situation?" "Is there anything I can learn from this?" Sometimes it's easier to reframe things for other people. at the last minute. he enticed his friends to do it for him. People who see the world this way are more resilient and handle setbacks better than people who haven't yet learned the skill. In 1978 I developed pneumonia. But he gave us a bit of a lift. including taking in a play we would otherwise have missed.we just saved $1. because I had exactly the opposite thought. finding something positive to comment on. Posen M. "All right. which he wanted no part of. This story illustrates an important point: often we can't choose what happens. He had to be off work and go on medication. In this case the reframing was for others .but I quickly noticed an upside. His comment didn't change the score. This is the essence of reframing. one of their shining characteristics is the ability to think differently about situations.and that's what I chose to focus on. A mood of disappointment prevailed. David B." But we came up with other benefits. So a helpful question would be. How can we reframe it?" My immediate thought was "That's easy . we didn't lose.D.10 days with nothing else to do but sleep and read. A patient of mine had been working like a drayhorse for years at a very demanding job and finally reached a point of burnout. one of the kids developed an ear infection and couldn't fly. This was the perfect opportunity . And he gave us a laugh . we went into the bottom of the 9th inning trailing 17-7. I wasn't thrilled with the situation .All material copyrighted. He also gave us a feeling of momentum for our next game. We just ran out of time!" This was an example of Reframing . When the diagnosis was made (complete with a chest x-ray that looked like a snowstorm) I was put on antibiotics and sent home for 10 days. He got them so keen to participate that they actually paid him for the privilege.

So in any difficult situation. Oakville doctors exchange letters at the hospital . "We all have mailboxes at the hospital for our lab reports. Posen M. It encourages you to reframe the situation . in Chinese it invites you to see both the down side and an up side. you don't say. people couldn't send birthday cards. But guess what happened after the strike? Nobody went back to using the mail. "crisis" is a negative. that's great. And you have a choice. stressful word for most people. David B." the second for "opportunity." But in Chinese. Positive thoughts energize you. I hope things work out. Why don't we just bring our letters to the hospital and pop them in each other's mailboxes until the strike is over?" That creative solution worked very well. In English. I'm sorry to hear that. In fact. Let me know if I can help.' Your body is only now saying 'that's enough'." This made him feel much more comfortable. I never thought of it that way. participants come up with many self-statements: I won't be able to finish I'll let other people down People will be angry with me It will affect my performance appraisal It could affect my career path I feel inadequate It isn't fair They're exploiting me I feel out of control . We weathered a crisis and found an unexpected benefit." It is our interpretation of these events that produces the stress. Overload is probably the biggest problem in today's workplace.to acknowledge the downside. 'I don't want to do this anymore. I think this demonstrates your strength. doctors couldn't mail letters to one another. "Our lives are filled with events that are ambiguous in meaning.D." has a negative connotation. I ask participants in my seminars to articulate why having too much to do is stressful for them. not weakness. it has reached crisis proportions for many people. "crisis. But it suggests a positive aspect as well. the word crisis is written with two characters and each stands for a different concept: the first for "danger. To this day. As Dr. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers." So while the English word. Robert Sapolski says in his wonderful book. Negative thoughts drain you. It doesn't deny the negative. look for the positives and focus on the benefits. "Hey. and in Oakville. Everyone seems to feel they have too much to do and not enough time. Businesses couldn't send invoices. One day. If you hear that someone's having a crisis. This goes back to the premise that situations are rarely stressful in themselves.just as we did during the postal strike.ago. but also to explore the possibilities and opportunities . He replied with a phrase that told me the reframe was both credible and helpful: "Gee. In analyzing why having too much to do is stressful. "Gee. Can I come over? I'll bring pretzels and beer and we'll have a crisis together. All material copyrighted. someone had a brain wave. Reframing: The upside of a "crisis" In the 1970s there was a postal strike that went on for several weeks. The strike had forced us to find a temporary solution that turned out to be better than the system we were using." So again we see that how you look at things influences how you feel. There's only so much any of us can put up with before our bodies says." You're more likely to say.same day service and it's free.

As Dan Sullivan. Strikingly. David B." or "I can only do what I can do" or even "I'll do the best I can.I then ask the group to reframe the same situation in order to reduce the stress. or pretending to be Pollyanna. All material copyrighted. "It's just the way it is. They'd planned for this contingency by arranging for a large outdoor tent just in case." or "this is the reality of today's workplace. look for the blessing in disguise. valid way of looking at things. When the special day arrived. Some people would have seen the weather as a serious "problem" and gotten very upset. I listed some of the negative/stressful interpretations of this all too common phenomenon. Posen M. With an abundance of umbrellas and a lot of good cheer. If you can't "optimize. Sounds like a stretch. the list of positive ways to look at "too much to do" is always longer than the list of negative interpretations. says: "Some of our best opportunities in life come to us cleverly disguised as problems. the weather was cloudy and." In my last column I talked about reframing a heavy workload or having too much to do. then your best way to reduce stress is to choose positive ways to look at it. sure enough. So when they saw that rain was coming. When Joe and Barbara were getting married.D. However.e. A large. we can also reframe it by "neutralizing" it ." . they simply launched into Plan B. Others would see it as a "situation" and therefore not get unduly stressed. but also related many positive ways of looking at the same thing. and take satisfaction from what I can get done. If you can't reframe things from negative to positive. instead of saying "This is terrific. doesn't it? But they're very clear about the fact that it woke them up to a destructive lifestyle they'd been ignoring for years. So when a crisis arises in your own life. We can live with this. If the situation is happening anyway. they planned a garden wedding on the shores of Lake Ontario. colourful tent was set up with the side facing the water left open to expose the view. You might be surprised at what you find. in the afternoon a light rain started to fall. This is another example of reframing. it's an implied compliment) I must be important It gives me job security (when there's so much to do) It's a chance to shine and profile my skills It's an opportunity to practice delegating and prioritizing (necessity forces us to develop better skills and to work smarter) It's an opportunity to learn new skills and information It's an opportunity to contribute to the company's success It's a chance to earn overtime income or get free time in lieu of It's a challenge ("I'll roll up my sleeves and dig in") I'll make it a game ("I'll see how much I can get done by the end of the day") Reframing a crisis is a practical. Was this a problem? Something to get stressed about? Not to Joe and Barbara. but some feel better than others. you can still reduce your stress by reframing from negative to neutral. It's an acknowledgement that there are different ways to look at the situation. the wedding went off without a hitch. Here are some examples: The time will pass quickly I won't be bored They must think I can do this (i. In other words." you'd say." Several patients have told me that their heart attack was the best thing that ever happened to them. who mentors entrepreneurs in his "Strategic Coach" program. It's not a con job or looking through rose-coloured glasses.with statements such as "It is what it is." then "neutralize" Every outdoor social activity needs a back-up plan in case of bad weather.

Either way. "So tell me Bobby. our change of thinking will decrease the stress we experience in our bodies. The hotel staff brought in a number of candles in elegant candlesticks and even a candelabra. what was going through your mind when you threw that snowball?" Totally disarmed. Unlimited Power. All material copyrighted." This removes the negative connotation on things that don't work out as we might wish. One story was about a boy sent to the office because he had thrown a snowball through a window (which. I've learned to handle each of these with philosophical acceptance. The principal sat him down and began by asking. He notes that the word "failure" is negative and stressful.In my 20 years of public speaking I've encountered a host of glitches and snags--. We don't need to label them "failures" in order to do that. (Actually. We can then evaluate these results and outcomes and decide how to improve them.D. I don't say. Reframing other people's behaviour My former junior high school principal told me how he handled discipline problems.) They brought me a flip chart so I could draw the diagrams I couldn't show on the screen. made do with the circumstances. the boy explained . As this diagram shows.everything from rooms being too small and crowded to outside noise. unfortunately for him. "Hey. Posen M. It wasn't ideal and I had to make a lot of adjustments. I then presented a two-hour workshop on stress management . but simply as issues that have to be dealt with. The student knew he was in trouble not only for the damage. It wasn't a fabulous turn of events. Once. How could you ask 200 people to sit in the dark and listen to a speaker they couldn't see? However. We can turn a negative into a positive ("optimizing" the problem) or we can turn a negative into a neutral ("neutralizing" the problem). turned a "problem" into a "situation" and simply got on with it. ingenuity prevailed. from absent equipment to microphones that screech. twenty minutes before I was to give a presentation to 200 schoolteachers. none of which I could now use.) Anthony Robbins offers an excellent example of reframing by "neutralizing" in his book. was closed at the time). I have to make the best of it. He suggests that we replace it with "results" or "outcomes. But we neutralized most of the problems. we can reframe things helpfully in two ways. I expected the program to be cancelled. but also for breaking a school rule. The only light in the room was the exit sign (perhaps a message from the universe to cancel the event and leave?) My seminar included overheads and an audiotape.by candlelight. this is great!" I use phrases like "This is what I have to work with." I've learned to see these events not as problems. the power failed throughout the hotel. it turned out to be a very peaceful atmosphere in which to talk about stress reduction. David B. (I felt like Liberace without the piano.

There's an important lesson here about how we can use reframing to reduce the stress of interacting with other people. you're assuming that his lack of reply reflects a negative feeling about you. you walk into work on Monday morning and say "Hi" to Joe . a man applied for a job and went for an interview.himself while the principal listened with patience and respect. he didn't get the job. For example. The result of the conversation was that the student felt listened to. His mind was filled with negative messages: they didn't care about his feelings. He hadn't heard anything for ten days. a corporate emergency might have come up. Early the following week he got a call to come in for another interview. In discussions with patients. or he doesn't like me or he thinks I'm not very important. You may say to yourself. Maybe he didn't hear you. It's stories like these that made this man so admired by his colleagues and respected by his students. the decision-maker could be sick. Now. understood and fairly treated. The principal then said. It will not only reduce your stress. guessing and conjecture. We usually react not to what somebody does. Then the principal said: "Thanks for helping me understand what happened. And when rules are broken there have to be consequences. What do you think would be a fair consequence in this situation?" He told me that students would often come up with harsher punishments than anything he had in mind. etc. a school is a form of community and communities have rules. instead of assuming the worst. For example.or don't happen . So much of our interaction with others is based on this kind of judgement and self-talk. "He seems to be angry at me. I often challenge their interpretations and ask them what other possible explanations they can think of for someone's behaviour. Is there anything else? Is everything okay at home?" And again. maybe new applicants had surfaced. understanding person as well. he was hanging in limbo. the company was unreliable.and get ourselves unnecessarily upset. It would be helpful at that moment to consider other possible reasons for Joe's behaviour. Dealing with difficult people .a family crisis had taken him away from work for several days. not you. And the principal learned more about what made his students tick and behave as they did. The applicant felt relieved. but from what you think it means. but will help you to be a more open-minded. But during the stressful waiting period. or perhaps he was just in a hurry. What a much more enlightened way of dealing with children than to simply bring them into a room and bawl them out. All material copyrighted. Given that your interpretation of his behaviour is based on mind reading. The person apologized for the delay . David B. as you know. We often jump to conclusions about why things happen . "It's helpful for me to know what contributed to this incident. It's an important perspective to keep in mind.D. there's no way for you to know with any certainty why Joe didn't acknowledge your greeting. or some personal problems were weighing on his mind. He came up with several possibilities: perhaps the selection process hadn't been as clear-cut as they expected." In essence. it helped him to look at other reasons why he wasn't phoned. but to our interpretation of why they did it. I asked him what other factors might explain why he hadn't been called. The meeting went well and he was told he'd be called back by the end of the week. You feel a little hurt or insulted. Bobby filled in some relevant background information.but he doesn't return your greeting. Posen M. or he was preoccupied with other thoughts. heard. The fact is that people's behaviour is mostly about them. Your upset results not from Joe's lack of response.

Then something amazing happened. and bossy. This is the "line of least resistance" often employed by "pleasers. Second.Early in my training I encountered a doctor who triggered a tremendous amount of stress in me. I found him less abrasive and irritating than I'd expected. Appeasement: This is where you concede to the other person and give them what they want in order to avoid conflict." One of my patients used this approach with an aggressive friend of hers. I felt more stress when I couldn't avoid him. His behaviour and mannerisms didn't change. but the capper came when I was assigned to his service for two months. but it got even better." However. but to our interpretations and judgements of them. if you avoid people who are still in your orbit you may find yourself looking over your shoulder to make sure they're not nearby. This can be stressful in itself. but my view of them changed totally. Avoidance: An obvious way of dealing with stressful people is to just stay away from them. it usually works.and I gave it up. So. It perpetuated her upset and gave her friend the impression that her behaviour was acceptable. for . saying that "being a pleaser is easier. In fact. It was a lesson in how easy it is for us to misinterpret other people and to react not to who they are. guess whose stress level went up with every step? As I passed him. Most importantly. I learned this lesson years ago when I ran into someone I'd been studiously and stubbornly ignoring. One day I found myself walking towards this person with not another soul around. And where this is feasible. As we started to work together. It won't help you to develop better coping strategies. the better you understand them. In the final ironic twist. He also seemed to have a very condescending and patronizing manner that I found very offensive. And fourth. abrasive and generally disliked and I wanted nothing to do with him. Even if you don't end up liking a person. Let's look at some others. As I got to know him I enjoyed him more and more. domineering. she gave tacit permission to the other person to continue to be controlling. but not the only one. particularly if you work or live with them. Appraisal of where they're coming from and what makes them tick is an excellent way of dealing with difficult people. He was sullen. After that. you could actually end up magnifying your stress when you do see them. So I kept walking. During our several hours together I found myself lightening up and kibitzing a bit. I noted with dismay (and. It would have been too obvious if I'd turned around and gone the other way. However. He asked me to work with him on a long case and I found myself feeling flattered by the request. In effect. some amusement) what a lousy strategy I'd concocted. The third problem is that you don't learn how to deal with the person if you simply skirt around the problem. frankly. I realized that he wasn't arrogant or smug at all. determined not to make eye contact with him. smug. I was going to show him what a jerk I thought he was! Well. This experience taught me something very important about dealing with difficult people: that the more you learn about them. I found him extremely arrogant. she started to realize that appeasement wasn't really easier at all. he actually became one of my favourite people and we became real friends. He responded and by the end of the afternoon we had made a real breakthrough. It was bad enough that I had to periodically encounter him in some of my training rotations. I realized avoidance was a "losing game" . I couldn't imagine how I'd get through the ordeal. and full of himself. One is that it's not always possible to avoid people. he was extremely shy and soft-spoken and what I had taken to be arrogance was a combination of shyness and the way he compensated for his social unease. getting to know him or her can lessen the feelings of tension. Appeasement may be necessary at times (to avoid a scene. That was a turning point. there are four problems with this approach.

All material copyrighted. and was never physically abusive. Then she looked up at him and said. a few weeks later he reverted to form and started winding up to take another strip off her. when he's finished. Either person can decide that they don't want to play anymore and stop the game. Then she delivered her quiet message in a dignified way. He would go into a tirade of berating and criticizing. However. "Okay. but I do want to watch. These attacks were taking a toll on both her self-esteem and her affection for him. subdued and easy to get along with. In my next columns." She burst out laughing and couldn't wait to try it. One of my patients was having problems with her verbally abusive husband. she did so without being argumentative or provoking a fight. but isn't a great strategy on an ongoing basis." And with that she pulled over a chair. I'm ready. I don't want to get into it with you. From that point on. Feeling empowered from having stood her ground before. One day I made a suggestion. of course. sat down and ceremoniously got herself adjusted and comfortable.like a balloon that had suddenly lost all its air. He got all wound up and went into his spiel. Better yet. She had given power to him by allowing him to treat her badly without objecting.and that she had tacitly been giving him permission to verbally abuse her in the past. I'll explore other (better) ways of dealing with difficult people. again. They can walk off the court or. Posen M. How many people does it take to play tennis? The answer. without sarcasm. She listened without getting upset. she did something that was totally out of character for her. David B. "stop returning the serve. she said to him. And. He looked totally deflated . is two." He stood there nonplussed. as one of my patients put it.D. This woman finally realized that she didn't have to put up with his behaviour anymore . "Are you about to launch into one of your attacks again? Because if you are. he had a way of attacking her on occasion. she pre-empted him.pleasant. why don't you listen as impassively as possible and. Spontaneously. I sensed that he wasn't a malicious guy and probably didn't appreciate how much harm he was doing to her and their relationship. It keeps you feeling powerless and victimized." . One of my metaphors for this dynamic is the game of tennis. "The next time he does that. often when she least expected it.example). While he could be charming at times. How many people does it take to break up a tennis game? The obvious answer is one. making her feel small and unworthy. She had now found ways to break the cycle. just say to him. he became a pussycat . He got flustered and embarrassed. mumbled something and walked away. 'Thanks for sharing that with me' and walk away. he immediately became more pleasant toward her. Only this time. At her next visit she reported what happened.

Things improved after that. but she was prepared to take a chance. This would be a role reversal which most people . It's a subconscious dynamic. as often happens when abusive people are confronted. Abusive behaviour is a strategy that some people use to control situations or other people. Next week I'll talk further about this. he backed off (after a few petulant remarks as his parting shots).D." In other words. I'm talking about relationships in which the balance of power has shifted with one person assuming certain prerogatives and the other. subconsciously. it's a weapon being used in a power struggle. And. Occasionally the abuser will up the ante and escalate the abuse. so he didn't have a lot to complain about. or not good about yourself when you're with a particular person. but in essence the victim is in collusion with the attacker. For every dominant person. Posen M. they back down when their victims stand up to them. nagging. Patients have used phrases such as: "I decided not to let him get to me anymore" or "I'm not giving her permission to keep doing this to me. The other key is to realize you don't have to put up with it. All material copyrighted. one day she came into my office and announced that she had finally addressed the problem and asserted herself. However. Unfortunately his continual harassment kept her off-balance and eroded her self-esteem. But. When I encourage patients to stop putting up with this abuse. She summed it up by saying. She was very good at her job and valuable to the company. there needs to be someone willing to be submissive. In a sense. David B.) One key to dealing with this kind of situation is to realize it's happening. going along and condoning that behaviour. criticizing. and being in her face.In abusive relationships there are two participants: the abuser and the "abusee" (who has tacitly agreed to be the victim). she decided that she'd had enough and wasn't prepared to put up with this behaviour any longer. some think I'm suggesting that they become dominant and take control. anxious. (Please note that I'm not talking about unprovoked acts of violence or crime where the victim is truly a victim. you're quite possibly experiencing some form of abuse from them. usually. but that didn't stop him from undermining her every chance he got. He would ride herd on her in a variety of ways: using foul language." Then they take measures to interrupt or stop the game. If you feel intimidated. Stop giving power to abusive people One of my patients was dealing with a verbally abusive boss. "I decided to take the 'kick-me' sign off my back. It was risky. so she had less confidence with which to fight back.

remember that when people are routinely abusive and hard to get along with. to make stress management my full-time pursuit. they are usually feeling pretty small or even frightened inside. Posen M. The fact is." but rather "I don't want your half. Whatever bluster or facade of power they're trying to project. Abusive people are not as tough as you think I often ask patients to evaluate the self-esteem of the abusive people in their lives. In other words. I fully participated in the sessions and did the homework assignments faithfully." The result is more balance in the relationship. When I decided. It's like Dorothy discovering that the Wizard of Oz is nothing more than a small man with a microphone hiding behind a screen. they are usually feeling not very good about themselves. I realized that I needed to know more about relaxation skills. power-wielding relationship. keep in mind that they're not as big and tough as you've made them out to be. David B. Incidentally we can all be irritable or unwittingly abusive at times---for example: when we're highly stressed. I'd heard they were effective but they seemed out on the fringe to me. When I started to do stress management counseling in 1981. My inner . I couldn't relate to them. My wife was interested as well. I just want that you not have my half." something like that. let's share the Popsicle by splitting it. It's not what I'm advocating. And as soon as your backbone gets straighter and stronger. The message to get across is not "I want the whole Popsicle. "On a scale of 1-100. But I felt detached from the group . It's interesting how we view abusive people. There were 20 people in the class. which has two halves. it's as if the abusive person has the whole thing. I merely suggest that they stop participating in the perpetrator-victim struggle that's going on. So. There are two kinds of control: one is control over others (which I call power) and the other is control over yourself (which I call autonomy). I'm not talking about this occasional behaviour. it's usually the opposite. I thought that relaxation techniques were flaky. Abusive people almost invariably have low self-esteem.and frankly a bit smug. They seem confident and imposing so we assume they like and feel good about themselves. angry or are frustrated about something.D. How I learned to meditate Let me begin with a confession. The metaphor I use is a Popsicle. All material copyrighted. so they try to make themselves feel bigger by making others smaller. feel insecure about themselves and are actually trying to build themselves up by putting other people down. aim for autonomy and self-determination. how high would you rate this person's self-esteem?" The answer usually is "very high" or "90. I'm referring to a pattern of abuse and harassment. CONTROL OVER OTHERS (POWER) CONTROL OVER SELF (AUTONOMY) So in taking control back from other people. Here's the story of my personal odyssey from skeptic to advocate. It's as if they can't feel good about themselves on their own merits. Before you give power to intimidating people. In an uneven. not power over someone else. you'll see how quickly they usually retreat from trying to push you around. I enrolled in a course taught by Eli Bay whom I'd met at a conference. so we went together. This is what I mean when I encourage people to take back the power that they've given to others. in 1985.would be afraid to try.

Fast forward to 1996. There. All material copyrighted. music." There was no way I wanted to leave this gorgeous afternoon and so. there's something of value here for you too.not because I really need this stuff!" However. That afternoon we were out on the beach. . she persisted. by the third session I noticed something interesting -. muscles tense. My wife joined me for the introductory lecture." It's not only a pleasant state to be in. It was a great way to start the day and provided a wonderful break in the afternoon. I meditate quietly at home and at my office. We need to get off on the right foot.D. blood pressure rises. My wife said we had to meditate first. we settled into our chairs and mediated. and had referred many patients to the course. Around 4:00 Susan said. Just as we have the ability to trigger a stress reaction when we feel threatened. an opposite physiological state of total relaxation. we have to do this. Herbert Benson calls this "The Relaxation Response. One day. The next morning I looked outside at the inviting scenery and prepared to go to breakfast. Next week I'll talk further about the theory and principles of relaxation. A few weeks later he was meditating for 20 minutes twice a day." That really caught my attention. Then it hit me: "Wake up. In a relaxation state. I resisted. Harvard's Dr. Now you have to know this was one busy place: scores of people. in the dentist's chair during a procedure . "We need to go in and meditate again. etc. breathing gets faster. I asked how he found the time to do that." Fortunately. checked into our hotel and went to bed. again. We compromised. Posen M. (Actually. I've gone from being a skeptic to an adherent to an advocate of relaxation and meditation." When we feel threatened our heart rates speed up. hardwired into our nervous system. local folks selling everything from tee-shirts to parasailing rides to braiding peoples' hair. it was a pretty idyllic setting.) We continued to do this for the rest of the week and after we returned home. you make the time. They showed a video which featured the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi himself as well as clips of several high-powered CEOs and celebrities who practiced meditation. The "relaxation response" is the mirror image opposite of the "fight-or-flight reaction. I've also noticed a lot of creative thoughts during meditation. recommending it to others and extolling its many virtues. again. Within a few weeks. (The course advocates meditating for 20 minutes on waking in the morning and. It's a real discipline to keep from jumping up to write them down. I began to notice the benefits. swimming and reading and enjoying the sun. in the afternoon. I completed the course with a considerable repertoire of relaxation techniques. aside from all the external commotion. I was hooked and I still meditate regularly. We decided to meditate on the beach. By now I was a firm adherent to the principles of relaxation.voice said: "I'm here out of academic interest ." That certainly shifted my attitude and I became fully committed to the process. I usually remember the ideas after I'm finished. We signed up for the course. blood pressure decreases. but is an important natural antidote to the stress reaction. It's a beautiful day out there. "When you get this much benefit out of something. Wise Guy. It finished on a Tuesday and the next day we flew to the Bahamas for a vacation. I decided to check it out myself. the heart rate slows down. However. The human body is beautifully designed and balanced. One of them was football legend Joe Namath who used to meditate in a corner of the dressing room before games. allowing our bodies to recover from and reverse the effects of sustained stress. a young man I was counseling told me he'd enrolled in a course on Transcendental Meditation. "No." Of course she was right so we delayed our breakfast and meditated. David B. We arrived in Nassau at night. many of which I still use to this day. in the midst of all this chaos.just about anywhere. I felt more calm and relaxed and the activity itself was effortless and pleasant. chatter. we also have. but also on trains and planes. "Let's start when we get home.I was no longer clenching my jaw nor grinding my teeth.) I said.

the body is fully relaxed but the mind is awake and under conscious control." Five principles of relaxation breathing: 1. along with structure and support if you have problems with self-discipline." unlike sleep. the relaxation response has to be brought forth voluntarily and by intention. I recommend that . Relaxation (abdominal) breathing Relaxation breathing can be used on its own. Herbert Benson and Eileen Stuart (Birch Lane Press. etc.breathing gets slower and deeper. Breathe into your abdomen ? feel your tummy rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. by Davis. Practice this for five minutes to start ? then slowly increase to 15 or 20 minutes. shins. During relaxation. Start by breathing out ? to empty your lungs in preparation for the first deep breath. Start from your toes and work up. and we breathe rapidly ? in order to take in air quickly. you become relaxed. concentrate on a mantra. If you're having trouble coordinating this. 1992). knees. yoga. This is another way of accessing the relaxation response. Progressive Relaxation. Then your ankles. I think the best way of acquiring these skills is to take a course. Under stress. As you breathe. but is often combined with other techniques. Then move your attention to the muscles of your feet and then let them relax. In the "relaxation response. hypnosis. remove shoes and glasses. muscles relax and so on. and get fully comfortable. unlike the stress reaction which is involuntary and triggers automatically. the chest expands. It gives you hands-on teaching and practice. repetitive images. there are many ways to do this that are easy to learn: meditation. 3. before a job interview or giving a presentation). This is the way we all breathed when we were infants and how we still breathe when we're asleep. you should practice regularly (15-20 minutes/day) but you can also use the skills on an "as needed" basis (e. As you let go of tension in each muscle group. In it he described a technique of deep muscle relaxation which reverses the muscle tension of a stress reaction. Focus on and observe your breathing (like a form of self-hypnosis). While these techniques can be learned from books or even tapes. As Eli Bay of "The Relaxation Response" in Toronto puts it. 4. To prevent distracting thoughts. but the chest hand staying still. Eshelman. Progressive (muscle) relaxation Edmund Jacobson was a Chicago physician who published a 1929 book called. going slowly and with conscious awareness. or your breathing or other calming. which expands with each breath in. 2. Focus your attention on the muscles of your toes and allow them to relax. calves. visualization and others. the movement is in the abdomen. The goal is to "empty the mind" of thoughts and concerns and to let it simply exist in a relaxed state. The best books for learning a variety of relaxation techniques are: The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook. comfortable environment. continue to relax the muscles that you've already relaxed so that you can feel the wave of relaxation rising in your body. You can sit or lie down. Relaxation exercises should be done in a quiet.g. It involves focusing on different muscle groups and consciously letting them relax. "When you breathe as if you are relaxed. put one hand on your tummy and the other hand on your chest. Breathe slowly ? otherwise you'll hyperventilate. This means that we have to choose to become relaxed in order for it to happen. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth (opened slightly). However. shoulders rise. Loosen tight clothing. It gets its name from the fact that we breathe differently when we're stressed than when we're relaxed. Fortunately. For maximum benefit. and McKay (New Harbinger Publications) and The Wellness Book by Dr. focus on the abdominal hand moving. 5.

when appropriate. A friend of mine just had her first book published. My children have had several surgical procedures in their young lives. answering questions. but I can be here with you when you have to experience pain so that you won't be alone. pleasant to do." My wife and I see our role as giving comfort. and patience while trying to get his professional career on track. Here's another example. Posen M. Relaxation techniques are safe. With alcoholics. and have no negative side effects. Michalak is a rookie pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays who began the year by beating the New York Yankees right in Yankee Stadium. Many stories have already been written about Chris's determination. Sharing difficult times together made those experiences more manageable and also brought us closer together as a family. Studies have shown that women with breast cancer have considerably better outcomes when they participate in support groups with other breast cancer patients. a wonderful and satisfying accomplishment. Almost invariably. there's rarely a critical word said. And they work! All material copyrighted. giving reassurance. Social support is most helpful at times of stress. Friendly pats on the back help to overcome any sense of embarrassment or disappointment that might pull the game down for the person in question. these are times when I can do nothing for them medically. being a kibbitzer and trying to get the kids to laugh. It was also an occasion for celebration. However difficult those years may have been. I have to leave that part to my surgical colleagues.couples take the course together. But what I can do is to be there with them for as much of the time as I'm allowed.two of her siblings flew over from Europe for the event.who were celebrating the author herself. survival rates were double for women participating in such a group. They are easy to learn. There's a lot of good-natured ribbing. A much more important form of teamwork goes on with medical support groups. the most effective treatment program has been Alcoholics Anonymous. But what's most notable about Michalak is that he's 30 years old and spent the last eight years in the minor leagues . This story illustrates the importance of support systems in our lives. And in most of these articles and interviews. What made the affair so memorable and meaningful was that it was shared with dozens of loving relatives and friends . allaying fear. providing distraction.which is unusual by today's standards. Her husband and children pulled together a spectacular party with great entertainment and an even bigger surprise . I play in a baseball league in which the friendliness among the players is a big part of game. And even though I'm a doctor. to increase the commitment and to be able to give support to each other. but it's at times of difficulty that the camaraderie really shows. Michalak has made a point of paying tribute to his wife whose support was invaluable to him over the last four years of struggle. and even. When guys commit errors or strike out with men on base. The Importance of Social Support Chris Michalak is one of the real feel-good stories of this young baseball season. David B. words of encouragement or consolation are heard. the fact that his wife believed in him and continued to encourage him was crucial to his success. In one British study. not just her book. Being a member of a team provides another kind of support system. persistence.D. portable. Milestones such as special birthdays and anniversaries are enriched immeasurably when our nearest and dearest are there with us. natural. and there are multitudes of different techniques to choose from. The unspoken message is that "I can't always protect you from pain. I attended several AA meetings when I was a family doctor (accompanying my alcoholic patients) and I can attest .

to the amazing dynamics at those meetings. There is an air of welcome, acceptance, and understanding. Members provide support to struggling peers. They also acknowledge and celebrate milestones of sobriety. The support is most meaningful because it comes from other alcoholics who know exactly how hard it is to overcome this addiction. So we see that social support makes our lives richer, helps us overcome adversity and comforts us better than almost anything else. Next week I'll talk further about support systems and how to develop them. Incidentally, in the course of my preparing this column, Chris Michalak just won his third game as a Blue Jay by knocking off the New York Yankees again, this time at Toronto's Sky Dome. The guy looks like he's "for real" - and I'm sure his support system is cheering louder with every victory.
All material copyrighted, David B. Posen M.D.

Social support: Why and how
A new patient came to see me for stress counseling. He had never talked to any professional before and the words just poured out of him. He talked in an animated way for almost an hour. At the end of the session he stood up, grasped my hand with both of his and enthusiastically told me how much I had helped him. In fact, I had said little and offered no specific suggestions. The benefit came from venting his feelings and getting years of emotional pain off his chest. What I provided was a safe environment in which he could speak freely. And I provided a caring, attentive ear. In that hour I became part of his social support network - which, unfortunately, had no other members at that time. Social support has a huge impact on reducing stress. Many studies show that social support decreases the stress response hormones in our bodies. In his book, Love and Survival (Harper Perennial, 1998) Dr. Dean Ornish notes that people who have close relationships and a strong sense of connection and community enjoy better health and live longer than those who live in isolation or alienation. People who suffer alone, suffer a lot. Benefits of social support include:
1. Emotional support and encouragement: a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.

Talking about feelings (ventilation) reduces stress and helps us to work through problems and feel better about ourselves.
2. Logistical support: at times of overload, illness or injury, people can take care of our

children, help with tasks or errands or drive us to medical appointments.
3. Mentoring and Coaching: after a job loss or relationship break-up, it helps to talk to

people who have been through a similar experience and can share the lessons they've learned. They can also show us how to use a computer, build a deck, write a resume or prepare for an interview.
4. Networking: people in our support system can tell us about a job opportunity, a good

car mechanic or a new book club. A lot of people have difficulty opening up to others. Many patients tell me they feel weak or vulnerable when they admit they're having problems. Or they don't trust people to keep the information confidential. And yet, as hairdressers, bartenders, and taxi drivers will tell you, people often reveal surprisingly personal information to total strangers. This indicates that people feel a need to talk about their feelings, although they're selective about who they'll open up to. Interestingly, many patients who don't share their feelings tell me that other

people often confide in them - and that they feel flattered and enjoy being helpful. Yet they're reluctant to discuss their own personal lives or feelings. How to develop and use a support system 1. Find people whom you trust and who care about you. You don't need a gallery of folks - a few close friends or relatives will suffice. 2. The best time to develop a support system is before you need it. Don't wait till you're halfway up the twist and then run out to some passer-by on the street and say: "I have to tell you about my day!" 3. The best way to develop a support system is to give support to others. This establishes a relationship and builds trust and goodwill. When you know someone is upset, ask if they'd like to talk about it. Then listen patiently and empathically. Call or visit someone who's sick or going through a rough time. Then, when you need a listening and caring ear, you'll have built a connection that can be reciprocated comfortably. As my father put it: "Just keeping giving and the taking will look after itself."
4. Confide only what's comfortable for you. You don't have to divulge your entire life

story. Venting feelings is more important than sharing details. A couple went through a very tough time when their child was hospitalized after a serious injury. "We called on our support system and told them what we needed. We knew we couldn't get through it alone." 5. Turn to people with whom you feel comfortable (relatives, friends, neighbours, colleagues at work, family doctors, clergymen, or even specific professionals such as therapists--what a colleague of mine calls "renting a friend."). 6. Don't judge yourself as weak or "less than" when you seek support. We all feel stressed, angry, frustrated or scared at times. It's a mistake to keep those feelings in. Having problems doesn't mean you're weak. It only means you're human. And there's a saying that "A problem shared is a problem halved."
All material copyrighted, David B. Posen M.D.

Communication aggravation

I was invited to give a workshop for a group of high-powered executives. It was held at a small lakeside resort on a sunny day in June - an idyllic setting for talking about work-life balance and values. At the mid-morning break I noticed three group members chatting out on the driveway. But they weren't talking to one another. Each had a phone against his ear, presumably talking business. "Well," I thought, "maybe some things can't wait." But then I looked out the lakeside window at another group on the deck. Despite the lovely view, they also had phones stuck in their ears, each preoccupied with a seemingly important conversation. I wondered: "What's wrong with this picture?" We're gathered for a peaceful retreat on a beautiful lake to get some perspective on their lives - and they're trying to fit business into the cracks. This is not an isolated incident. I've asked people to turn off their laptops during seminar breaks. They reply that if they don't pick up their messages continuously, they'll have 100 emails to deal with by the end of the day. We live in a wired world. It's a mixed blessing. I remember the big breakthrough when doctors got pagers. They allowed us to be out and about when we were on call instead of being tied to a telephone. What freedom! However, in today's world, pagers, cell phones, voice mail and email, have created an electronic leash instead of liberation. As David Brooks put it in a recent Newsweek article, "Never being out of touch means never being able to get away."

And this isn't the only kind of communication aggravation. We've all been on trains and buses where one insensitive passenger with a cell phone and a loud voice can infuriate dozens of travelers who only want to read or sleep. We also get to learn far more about the exhibitionist than any of us wanted to know. Here's another scenario. I recently called the help line for one of my office techno-gizmos that was on the fritz. I was then led through a maze of voice mail menus the likes of which I'd never encountered before. They were so multi-layered you needed to draw flow diagrams to keep track of all the options. The meta-message it conveyed to me was, "We've already made the sale. We're not interested in your problem. Go away!" After three rounds of this charade, I hung up, called the dealer from whom I'd bought the equipment, and said, "I'd like you to handle this. Your supplier doesn't seem to be very customer-focused." Then there's the steady stream of misdirected faxes I receive that are meant for a professional office in town with a fax number similar to mine. This leads to questions of "fax etiquette." Do I ignore them (and risk being a bad citizen), resend them to the proper number (which takes time - some of these documents are 10-20 pages long), call the sender (or intended recipient) to tell them their message went astray? And who should pay for all the paper and ink these unwanted faxes consume? And while we're at it, unsolicited marketing faxes are another plague, adding to your overhead costs while the advertiser incurs no expense at all. Great racket - no wonder there's so much of it. Then there's the "hurry-up" factor. A lawyer told me: "I used to get letters asking for an opinion. I'd think about it and mail back a reply. Now I get a fax asking for a response by 2:00 p.m. today. Then I receive a phone call an hour later, asking, 'Did you get my fax? What do you think?'" This expectation of accelerated turnaround is not only stressful, but often precludes any time for reflection. We're expected to react rather than respond. And unless we do something about it, it's only going to get worse. And finally, my favourite: call waiting - (which I label "call aggravating"). I understand the need for businesses to answer each call, which sometimes means putting people on hold. But residential phones where each incoming call beeps a signal to interrupt? Persistently? Every time a phone partner says, "Oh, just a second, let me get this call." I feel like they're really saying, "Hold on a sec - this call might be more important than you." What a great technological innovation! How did we ever get along without it? Did I mention spam emails that take several minutes to download? Or those error messages that come up to tell you that you can't connect with your Internet server - just as you're tidying up to go on vacation? These are some of the joyous wired-world experiences I call "Communication Aggravation." Next week I'll discuss ideas about taming the monster that's taking over our lives.
All material copyrighted, David B. Posen M.D.

Communication aggravation
I was invited to give a workshop for a group of high-powered executives. It was held at a small lakeside resort on a sunny day in June - an idyllic setting for talking about work-life balance and values. At the mid-morning break I noticed three group members chatting out on the driveway. But they weren't talking to one another. Each had a phone against his ear, presumably talking business. "Well," I thought, "maybe some things can't wait." But then I looked out the lakeside window at another group on the deck. Despite the lovely view, they also had phones stuck in their ears, each preoccupied with a seemingly important conversation. I wondered:

The meta-message it conveyed to me was." Then there's the steady stream of misdirected faxes I receive that are meant for a professional office in town with a fax number similar to mine. Here's another scenario. my favourite: call waiting . just a second. I'd think about it and mail back a reply. They allowed us to be out and about when we were on call instead of being tied to a telephone. "I'd like you to handle this. We also get to learn far more about the exhibitionist than any of us wanted to know. We've all been on trains and buses where one insensitive passenger with a cell phone and a loud voice can infuriate dozens of travelers who only want to read or sleep. We're not interested in your problem. "Never being out of touch means never being able to get away. I recently called the help line for one of my office techno-gizmos that was on the fritz. Your supplier doesn't seem to be very customer-focused. 'Did you get my fax? What do you think?'" This expectation of accelerated turnaround is not only stressful. adding to your overhead costs while the advertiser incurs no expense at all. unsolicited marketing faxes are another plague. "Oh. As David Brooks put it in a recent Newsweek article. Then there's the "hurry-up" factor.just as you're tidying up to go on vacation? These are some of the joyous wired-world experiences I call "Communication Aggravation. cell phones. resend them to the proper number (which takes time . It's a mixed blessing." And this isn't the only kind of communication aggravation. I've asked people to turn off their laptops during seminar breaks. call the sender (or intended recipient) to tell them their message went astray? And who should pay for all the paper and ink these unwanted faxes consume? And while we're at it. they'll have 100 emails to deal with by the end of the day. I understand the need for businesses to answer each call. asking."What's wrong with this picture?" We're gathered for a peaceful retreat on a beautiful lake to get some perspective on their lives . it's only going to get worse. They were so multi-layered you needed to draw flow diagrams to keep track of all the options. We're expected to react rather than respond. Go away!" After three rounds of this charade." I feel like they're really saying. in today's world. Now I get a fax asking for a response by 2:00 p. We live in a wired world. pagers.no wonder there's so much of it. today. I hung up. "Hold on a sec . but often precludes any time for reflection.some of these documents are 10-20 pages long). They reply that if they don't pick up their messages continuously. and said. A lawyer told me: "I used to get letters asking for an opinion. called the dealer from whom I'd bought the equipment. ." Next week I'll discuss ideas about taming the monster that's taking over our lives.and they're trying to fit business into the cracks. What freedom! However. I was then led through a maze of voice mail menus the likes of which I'd never encountered before. "We've already made the sale. let me get this call. And unless we do something about it. I remember the big breakthrough when doctors got pagers. Then I receive a phone call an hour later. This leads to questions of "fax etiquette. Great racket .m.this call might be more important than you. voice mail and email. But residential phones where each incoming call beeps a signal to interrupt? Persistently? Every time a phone partner says. And finally." What a great technological innovation! How did we ever get along without it? Did I mention spam emails that take several minutes to download? Or those error messages that come up to tell you that you can't connect with your Internet server ." Do I ignore them (and risk being a bad citizen).(which I label "call aggravating"). which sometimes means putting people on hold. have created an electronic leash instead of liberation. This is not an isolated incident.

State the purpose of your call and the best time to call you back.but it will protect your most productive time. We ask people not call us after 10:00 p. 2.D. Don't spam others if you don't like them spamming you. Anticipate a recorded greeting and plan your message in advance.All material copyrighted. It's a discipline .m. telephone is best. 4. David B. or in the bathroom. Communication Aggravation . Voice Mail A.even if you call back 2-3 times. Don't send unsolicited marketing faxes. use a bypass system that allows callers to get right to the "record" tone. Identify your name or company and invite a message. The point is . I choose not to carry a pager.D. I have caller I." 2. 2.you're not available.everyone's busy." usually used by companies that never answer with a live voice. Choose what works for you. I don't have a fax machine at home. Repeat your name and phone number at the end of your message (and say your number s-l-o-w-l-y) 4. in a meeting. You don't need every gadget just because it's available. tell callers when you'll be picking up messages and calling back. If you ignore #1. Receiving calls. My two favorite "cut-to-the-chase" (residential phone) messages are "Speak at the beep" and "You know what to do.it doesn't matter if you're on another line. Leaving messages. electronic organizer or laptop. out for lunch. Leave only one message . Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you're away. 1. These choices suit my business practice and lifestyle. at least indicate how recipients can get off your mailing list. Avoid cliches . I prefer telephone first. cell phone. I inform people that I only check my e-mail twice a day so. 6. to reach me quickly. 1. For example. Be brief. taking a walk. I use a car phone for emergency calls only. and take calls selectively during high-concentration work. Don't use your cell phone like a megaphone in public places. My own pet peeve is "Your call is important to us. Posen M. During high-concentration tasks. . B. 3. Keep it short.Part Two Here are some suggestions for dealing with information overload and techno-irritation. You can say "I'm sorry I missed your call" but don't list a bunch of reasons . avoid the temptation to answer the phone. Tell callers if your machine has a time limit so they don't get cut off in mid-sentence. Notify others about your preferences. 1. Most of us don't think fast enough to leave a concise message instead of rambling. Be selective about who you give your cell phone number and e-mail address to. fax second and e-mail third. Fax. Decide what technology you want to use and how you want to use it. 5. If you require a long message. Tell people your favoured method of communication. 3.you may break out in a cold sweat .

. and paper. Check e-mail only once or twice a day. Before you press send. Once your kids are a little older. 3. She was struggling with a time management problem. perhaps you could rethink the situation. Use filtering programs if you're inundated with unwanted e-mails. It saves a lot of time. In addition to a full. after hearing from the expert. Communication is a great thing. she also felt guilty for being unable to manage her schedule. Don't respond to messages unless you have to.only to find a solicitation for a charitable donation. Don't open your e-mail first thing in the morning if you're a morning person. I once got a message marked "highest priority".time job and raising two pre-school children. ink. This includes joke lists--unless the jokes are really funny. I agreed. Ask if people require a cover sheet and tell them if you don't need one.and encourage others do the same. Your quick "Thanks Bernie--have a great weekend. Posen M. Use high or highest priority designations only when you really mean it. Having difficulty doing everything. Be respectful of privacy.. Unopened or misdirected letters are sealed. she was spending 15 hours a week starting a new business with a friend. The power of permission A woman came up to speak to me after one of my seminars. I asked her two questions: "What do you really want to do?" and "What do you think you could comfortably handle?" She said she couldn't keep doing it all. ask yourself if this message really needs to be sent at all." Is just one more message for him to download and open. It's a tempting toy. 4. when you're freshest and most productive. 6. Maybe your friend can find someone . Don't send highly confidential information by fax. 9.D. 10. E-Mail 1. You'll end up giving away your best 30-60 minutes/day. use the "blind cc" option so the recipient only sees their own name. Turn off the sound on your computer that signals the arrival of each new e-mail. It can be a greater courtesy not to reply. I once received a 4-line message that was preceded by 16 lines of e-mail addresses of other people. She told me she'd already been feeling overwhelmed but.3. But for now it sounds like a full-time job and raising two children is quite enough. Apparently his response was "Well. David B. Keep your messages short -saves time for everyone. But faxes are open to anyone and may lie around for days. Use your toys wisely . 8. she had called a radio talk show to explain her dilemma to a guest expert. you're just not organized. Be your own filtering system. but a sinkhole for time and energy. All material copyrighted. Get your name taken off as many e-mail lists as possible. If you're sending the same message to multiple people." and he gave several suggestions about being more efficient. "It's tough to work 55 hours a week and still have anything left for your family and yourself. 7. Over-communication is a blight. What you have to do is. 2. 5. trying to juggle several elements of her life. 4.

" The sense of relief that radiated out of her was almost palpable. It's about living according to our own values and priorities. So I said. not somebody else's. we should get past our reliance on other people. All material copyrighted. when she entertained company. She did what I suggested and it worked out fine. she confided to me: 'I'm still serving Sara Lee cakes!" This story illustrates that we sometimes need an external voice to condone our behaviour or to reinforce our desire to do something. to scale back. .to choose what feels right and then to act on it." The first question that crossed my mind was "So why don't you do that?" But instead. "Let me give you permission to do this.D. She said. David B. Later. She wanted an authorityfigure to sanction her decision and to tell her it was O." "Do you have any Sara Lee cakes at home?" "Oh sure. Good health . she made her own salad dressings. Do it as an experiment. What was this story about? Why did she need advice from "experts" when she already knew what was right for her? I think she was looking for permission. However.in other words. If we're to achieve the lives we envision.It's your choice Let me begin with a premise: that most of our behaviour and activities are actually strategies designed to reduce stress. in a chance meeting in town. we need to get better at giving ourselves permission . start listening to your inner voice and let it guide you. and so on." The next week she reported back. "When's your next dinner party?" "Next Saturday. She made her soup from stock and marrow. Before you think I don't get out much or that I've been doing stress counseling for too long. However. Perhaps she was also seeking external support to justify her decision to her friend. It's another way of taking more control of your life. Permission is a form of endorsement from other people.K. Here's an example. One of the best parts of my job is giving people permission until they can comfortably give it to themselves. she was also a Type-A perfectionist who made things hard for herself. I think she secretly slipped off to Brazil twice a year to pick her own coffee beans! All this work started to feel onerous and preparing for dinner parties became more of a chore than a pleasure. "One of these days I'd just love to serve a Sara Lee cake for dessert. in our heart of hearts. This is not about acting selfishly ." "Let me make a suggestion. She believed that. The benefits had reinforced the behaviour. Too many people are giving up parts of their lives to fulfil other people's agendas. she should prepare all the dishes from basic ingredients. We often need someone's approval to give us courage to act. I asked her. Why don't you serve a Sara Lee cake next Saturday night and see what happens?" She was enticed by the idea but felt uncomfortable with it. let me explain.else to partner with. We both know it'll be easier for you and I'm sure everyone will enjoy it. we want to follow but something still stops us. A patient told me that she was proud of her skills as both a gourmet cook and hostess. She thanked me for validating her feelings and for reinforcing what she really wanted to do. Whether it's a choice of career or plans for the weekend. It's as if they're giving their blessing to a course of action that.it's about self-determination and selfreliance. to give herself permission next time. Posen M. She said she'd feel comfortable doing it again . I always have a few in the freezer.

Do our strategies work? 2. So we're hit with a double whammy. Are they causing any other problems? Let's compare "bad coping strategies" and "good coping strategies. some individuals use worry as a conscious strategy to ward off trouble ("If I worry about it. unhealthy. Most of what we do can be looked upon as a coping strategy. then we can start to look for better strategies that are effective stress relievers and healthier for us overall. worrying is a subconscious strategy that they use to deal with difficult situations. Others withdraw and isolate themselves. all of them work to some extent or people wouldn't keep doing them. or compulsively chomp on potato chips to reduce anxiety. we can achieve two benefits. If this premise is true. Why do people leave early to get to meetings or appointments if not to avoid the stress of rushing and/or arriving late? Angry outbursts are a way that many people vent frustration. Conversely. as if that's not bad enough. Then there are folks who veg out in front of the TV every evening. by shifting from "bad" coping strategies to "good" ones. many of our coping strategies are. then it won't happen. And while some are healthier or more constructive than others. 1." Bad Coping Smoking Alcohol Over-eating Drugs Withdrawing Self-Pity Blaming Good Coping Nutrition Exercise Relaxation Recreation Assertiveness Time-Outs Humour Stress is one of the leading causes of ill health in our society. . In fact. For a lot of people. Several people tell me the first thing they do when they get home at night is pour themselves a good.What happens when we experience stress or feel upset? Some of us grab our favourite comfort food or light up a cigarette. 2. but actually misguided attempts to relieve stress. in themselves. They improve our health. ventilating at length about the upsetting day they've just had. Still others "dump their bucket" on arriving home. Crying and laughing are also tension relievers. stiff drink to help them unwind from the day. So the next time you have a glass of wine to help you relax in a social situation. conscious or unconscious. Some go out for a run to release built-up tensions. then we should ask ourselves two questions: 1.") Often people use procrastination to put off unpleasant activities or situations. But let's go further. Then think of alternative ways to achieve the same result . If we think of our bad habits as not just self-destructive lifestyle choices. stop and consider that you're actually trying to deal with stress. But. All of these (and this is only a partial list) are ways that patients tell me they cope with stress.without the negative side effects. They're better stress-reducers.

Posen M. . David B.D.All material copyrighted.