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difficult people, communication, relationships, Tera Warner, WISH Radio

[Soapbox Talks] How to Deal With Difficult People

I had three friends in one week call with questions about how to handle difficult questions. Their situations ranged from mildly annoying to immediately life-threatening. No matter what situation you’re in, this episode of Soapbox Talks has the answer! Tune in and turn up the volume. Sometimes getting the right information can make a big difference!

You can download the CheatSheet for this lesson here!

There will be a Youtube video coming out soon to accompany this podcast. I’ll update this page when the link is available.

Here’s What You’ll Learn In This Episode:


  • The single most important factor that makes anyone feel alive (and actually BE alive).
  • The problem of backing down or giving up when you encounter difficult people, that will make an even bigger problem later.
  • The first and most important thing to know about why people are “difficult.”
  • How to decide which people should be your friends and deserve your trust, and which you should create stronger boundaries with.
  • The key to feeling confident in almost all your relationships!
  • The one thing you must do no matter how difficult the situation is. (And it’s NOT easy!)
  • What happens the moment you’ve decide that any situation or person is “too much” for you.
  • Loads of examples and inspiration to help you approach all your relationships with courage and confidence!!

Helpful Links

Life Vest viral video

Hacksaw Ridge 



Comments ( 5 )
  • Jodie Lea Cleave says:

    YAY! another tool to slip into my ever growing tool kit, I love it! Thanks Tera

  • Margaret Bianculli says:

    Once you stop and observe then what you do you do? I found nothing firm to do here. My difficult person won’t communicate rationally. Situations arise out of the blue. I have no idea what buttons I push but this is a relationship I can’t discard as it is my daughter. When she is raging what questions do I ask? How do I stop the domino effect when I stop and observe…been there done that…it just makes it as if I’m allowing her to bully, abuse verbally and being a mat. I have said that the way she treats me is not worthy of my friendship…and she says she doesn’t care. So I am at a loss.

    • Tera Warner says:

      I love your question, Margaret. And I would love to take this up with you further.

      Obviously there’s a LOT to learn about relationships and people and their emotions and reactions.

      There are many tools, but the most important thing is to START with this idea of observing. With what you “already” know, with the information you already have, you can’t easily solve this one. BUT… by stopping the reaction enough to LOOK and OBSERVE, we can get more information that enables you to see and solve the situation more easily.

      So here are some of the questions you can start with, and the kinds of questions I would ask you if we were working together:

      When did this start?
      When did you first observe things get difficult?
      How was it in the beginning? When she was young?
      What are her activities during the day?
      Have there been any major accidents? Life changes?
      What are the behaviours and things that you observe her doing?
      Do you have any “gut feelings” or concerns about things that you maybe haven’t followed up with or handled?
      How is she performing at school?
      What kinds of friends does she have?
      What’s taking up most of her attention in life right now?
      What’s taking up most of her time?
      Have there been any major incidents or upsets with you personally?
      Did things change quickly or it was a slow deterioration over time?

      You say situations arise out of the blue, but I’d like to invite you to look a little more.

      It might feel “out of the blue” to you, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not a trigger. It just means you don’t know what the trigger is.

      Here’s what I can tell you, just from this little paragraph that you’ve sent me… you ARE emotionally reacting to the situation. 🙂 And OF COURSE you would. Because it feels wrong, is confusing and painful and there are things that are not right about this situation.

      NOW, in order to handle it, you need to LOOK. You need to put the emotion in a basket and tuck it aside so you can try and observe from an external viewpoint what’s happening? The facts. Like answers to the questions above. The more you can do that, the more you will see. When your observations are clouded by emotions like frustration, rejection, fear, anger, disappointment, etc. it’s very hard to SEE clearly.

      I will give you a little clue, though, that I hope will inspire you to KEEP LOOKING. 😉 Think for a moment about what happens when you tell a friend you’re going to call them, and then you don’t do it. And imagine that the call you promised them was something quite important. It was something that meant a great deal to this person.

      And the next day you remember you should call this friend, (we’ll call her “Sue”), but while you’re busy juggling kids and shopping and work, you get distracted and forget to call. Then at 10:30pm, when it’s too late to call, you remember your friend again and feel bad because you totally forgot!!

      You decide you’ll call the next morning and apologize, but the next morning someone’s late for school, the car had a flat tire, and your Aunt Enid called from South Africa to let you know she’s coming for a visit.

      Life scoops you up in its flow, and again.. you forget to call your friend.

      This happens the next day…

      And again…

      Every day another reason and distraction, and the longer you put it off, the worse you feel.

      There are TWO things that can happen now.

      1. Chances are good just thinking about this friend will give you a little sting. It will be a constant reminder about what you failed to do–your broken promise and commitment. That will make it more and more difficult for you to actually look this friend in the eye. You’ll feel worse for putting it off, and maybe, even start to avoid it, and avoid her.

      Your friend, on the other hand, just thinks you don’t care about her. Maybe she thinks you don’t like her or are mad at her, or were lying and never meant to call her. The truth is, you’re not mad at her, you’re mad at yourself, you just don’t quite know how to look her in the eyes and admit you failed to follow through.

      The more important that call was to her, the worse you’ll feel about it.

      Now, another thing can happen.

      2. Let’s say you’re tired, hungry and having a bad day, when your husband asks you, “Hey! Have you heard from Sue, lately? How’s she doing?” To the degree that you’re feeling tired, worn out and under fed, you could get quite upset with your husband for asking that question.

      You could get annoyed and irritated and say something like, “Are you just going to sit there, or can you help around here?” He might feel like “out of the blue” you are really annoyed and irritated with him. If that broken promise has been sitting there a long time, you might not even realize why you’re so annoyed with him.

      But the truth is, he pushed a button.

      He could, in that situation, even say, “Hey! Why are you so upset?!”

      The chance that you have enough insight to spot your reaction yourself is slim. But you know you’re upset, and you need a reason, so you say, “I’m always working around here and you’re just sitting there. You say you’ll help me, but you never keep your agreements about that!

      Because it’s been a long time, you may not even realize that your buttons have been pushed. You might feel totally justified. You’re just speaking up and letting your husband know what you think and what you need! But “under the surface of your skin” was this underlying broken agreement that you couldn’t quite see and weren’t quite willing to take responsibility for. 🙂

      I’m using a REALLY minor example to show you the point.

      Just because she’s being rude, unkind and even says she doesn’t care…

      …doesn’t mean she doesn’t really care. 😉

      And just because her reactions are “out of the blue to you” doesn’t mean there’s not a reason they are pushing her buttons. In the example above, your “husband” innocently thinks he’s just asking how your friend is doing. He has no idea you’ve been feeling bad about not calling her!

      Given what little I have received from you, I would be willing to guess that she’s done things she doesn’t feel good about and isn’t willing to take responsibility for them. And she’s probably getting louder and louder because she’s asking for HELP. She may not even know how to stop herself from creating problems. And the more this is true, the further she will push herself away from you.

      I hope this little example gives you enough insight that will make you feel more confident and clear about this idea of LOOKING to OBSERVE what’s really there. That DOES stop the domino effect. By standing there and observing her in the face of her “raging”–not with comtempt or anger or hatred or sadness or fear, just OBSERVING. If you were to be able to just BE THERE, it would start to change things in the right direction!!

      To the degree that you’re seeing it all and judging it all through the lens of your own emotion, you might miss some REALLY important pieces of the puzzle.

      Don’t give up, Margaret. I’m so glad you listened to this call and if you stick with me in the weeks to come, and keep asking questions, I KNOW we can get you some big wins here. Stay curious and committed. Have courage and be kind. The pieces of the puzzle will start to click in place and the more you see some pieces, the more you’ll get the whole picture!

      Big hugs and thanks for your trust and your time. Please do keep us posted!


  • Christie says:

    Regarding my difficult people.

    When is speaking up ‘handling’ them and when is it sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong?

    Their choices are causing problems for themselves (and to a lesser degree, others including), but they are adults. They seem determined to continue choices, even if they are not always happy with the effects. Should I just grant them their right to choose?

    And how the heck do you stand your ground and not push back- when I set boundaries or speak my truth with difficult people it always seems to come out with me ready to fight!

  • Cecilie Tveita says:

    Thank you dear Tera! What a great message you have! Thank you on behalf of the strong domino effect you have. Much love! C

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