Relationship Builder:


Using Up Brain Neurons on DIFFICULT PEOPLE!

Stress costs us in neurons!   Stress of any kind exacts a high price on our brain, body, and relational health.   Research shows that high performers (usually high in emotional intelligence) take that reality seriously, and they stay in control of optional stressors.    This includes managing the impact of difficult people on their internal and external environment.

When dealing with difficult people in the personal or professional setting, it’s especially important to stay awake to what you CAN control and contribute: your invitation to psychological and spiritual health.   (Another’s response to that invitation is really outside of your reach, as a human being.   That is where our calling to be Presence ​in any given relational situation stops.)

“Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain.    

Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions — the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people — caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best. To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.”   (Travis Bradberry, How Smart People Handle Difficult People!)

I absolutely love the following quick workplace tips from Travis Bradberry, that can be applied to homelife as well…

The Couples’ (& Family’s) Enneagram:

The 9 Ways to Remind Yourself



And it’s Far More Than You Realize!

…Your Personality Health Can Be a Force that Teaches People

How to Treat You….and Possibly How to Treat Others!

Here’s a summary of Bradberry’s great tips, plus my follow-up on how each of these brilliant strategies invite us all to access our inner Enneagram wisdom. When Dealing with a Difficult Person, REMEMBER TO USE THESE NINE SMART STRATEGIES:

1. Bradberry says: Rise above when dealing with the difficult person at work.   Access your inner ONE (Reformer)!    In family life, it’s even more important you don’t get sucked into the emotional chaos the difficult person swims in; keep your objectivity in place and let those difficult patterns face the upward pull of your rising above an invitation to drama.  You don’t need to answer the drama, just deal with the facts.

2. Bradberry says: Use your support system when dealing with the difficult person at work.   Access your inner TWO (Helper)!  In family life, it’s even more important to get perspective on the crazy-making interactions with a difficult person, and see where we need to adjust out boundaries, means having the social humility to ask safe people for their input.   Ask them what they would do.   Defuse some of the difficult energy by staying in real connection with the healthier people in your life.

3. Bradberry says: Don’t focus on problems — only solutions when dealing with the difficult person at work.  Access your inner THREE (Achiever)!   In family life, it’s even more important to keep your focus on how you will improve your management of the difficult-person situation, and your real priorities.   If you let the difficult-person problems become your focus, you’re creating more stress for yourself.  Keep that solution-focus energy out in front of you, as a shield, when dealing with the difficult.

4. Bradberry says: Stay aware of your emotions when dealing with the difficult person at work.  Access your inner FOUR (Individualist)!  In family life, it’s even more important to be honest with yourself about when your buttons are getting pushed by the difficult person.   Know yourself, and know when you need some time to regroup and strategize.  Introduce those difficult patterns to the individual you are by taking care of yourself actively.

5. Bradberry says: Don’t die in the fight when dealing with the difficult person at work.  Access your inner FIVE (Investigator)!  In family life, it’s even more important to learn to look out for your inner resources.   Toxic battles with difficult people can leave you depleted, without a lot to show for the struggle.  Investigate those difficult patterns ahead of time, think them through, and have an exit strategy ready to keep your emotional distance in place.

6. Bradberry says: Don’t forget when dealing with the difficult person at work.  Access your inner SIX (Loyalist)!  In family life, it’s even more important to value your memories.   Yes, move on, forgive, understand that the difficult person is in pain.  However, stay vigilant regarding the memories of of their character!  Difficult people manipulate and play games, because it’s what they know to do at their level of development.    Face that reality head on with the level of trust the difficult person has earned.   Keep memories intact.

7. Bradberry says: Squash negative self-talk when dealing with the difficult person at work.  Access your inner SEVEN (Enthusiast)!  In family life, it’s even more important to do this.   I love Bradberry’s admonishment that we should AVOID NEGATIVE SELF-TALK AT ALL COSTS.   Difficult people tend to send normal folks into those negative self-assessment spirals.    Remember to love your life enough to leave that kind of pointless pain in the dust.   It’s not practical, it’s not real.   Introduce those useless guilt messages to THE SQUASHER!  Haha.

8. Bradberry says:  Set limits & Establish boundaries when dealing with the difficult person at work.   Access your inner EIGHT (Challenger)!  In family life, it’s even more important to get comfortable with healthy firmness, AND with coming off a little callous or rude, when unavoidable; don’t let your time & energy be a resource the difficult person gets to waste.   Challenge the difficult patterns, and trust your ability to spot game playing when you see it.

9. Bradberry says: Get some sleep when dealing with the difficult person at work.  Access your inner NINE (Peacemaker)!    In family life, it’s even more important to practice all the things that arm you with the brain power and creativity you need to deal with difficult people.   And sleep is a vital tool.   Emotionally intelligent people get enough sleep, because they are always checking back in with their center, and asking what creates or damages peace in their life.   Sleep is an essential peacemaker to have at your side when difficult people are in your environment.  

Until Next Time, Builders,

Love that you’re keepin’ those brains relationship-ready!   

Dr. Ronna

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