Excuse Me, Could You Get OFF My Nerves?

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They cut you off in traffic. They tell you what to do. They don’t follow through. They are loud and obnoxious, or too quiet and reserved. They make inappropriate comments. They talk behind your back.

Who are they?

The Difficult Ones.

These are the people in your life that just get on your nerves! Something they do triggers you, and you cringe or get angry as a result. You know the signs – stomach in knots, white knuckles on the steering wheel, voices in your head about what you would like to say to tell them off. They take a perfectly good day and turn it sour.

The Difficult Ones have a lot of control. You don’t want them to because you don’t really want to give them the time of day, but the truth is that they own your feelings and your reactions sometimes. Depending on the circumstances, you give too much over to The Difficult Ones. And they are everywhere: You work with them, you could have married into a family with them, you could have them in your own family. They just don’t leave you alone.

It’s time to take your life back and exert your personal power to say “No” to the automatic triggers of these people. What steps can you take to rid yourself of the impact The Difficult Ones have on your life and your well-being? You might have tried to change them and it didn’t work. They may like the way they are and see no need to do anything differently. The only thing you can control – and where your power lies – is in your reaction to them. If you don’t respond as you always have, the situation will shift.

1. Trigger points

First, recognize what triggers you. Have you ever thought about the fact that there is no definition for what’s “difficult”? One person might say it’s the loud brother-in-law that comes to the house and boasts all night long, but another person at the same family party might say that brother-in-law is fun and engaging! The triggers are different for all of us. Identify what behaviors or traits trigger you.

2. Get objective

Turn a subjective“I hate that” into an objective, “There is that” response. Instead of “He is loud and obnoxious” (subjective and judgmental), say, “He speaks loudly at my home.” The behavior does not change, but the interpretation of the behavior does.  It’s a process called reframing, and it gives us power to deal with things more objectively.

3. Take a different approach

Do you feel your blood pressure rising when his booming voice yells across the room at you? Instead of cringing and reacting, smile at him. Wave across the room, point to your ginger ale and mouth, “Going for a refill.” Then just walk into another room. You have the power to leave. Really.

4. Hum, yep

Have a song you like, or a poem or mantra ready. Instead of talking to yourself about how much the person drives you nuts, start singing something you like or repeating a favorite poem. While the brother-in-law yells, you are humming (silently) a favorite tune. Focus somewhere else and on something that makes you happy and feel good.

5. Breathe

Yes, deliberate deep breathing is one of the most beneficial things you can do, and one of which you have probably never thought. You breathe naturally, so what’s different? Taking deep, comfortable and thoughtful breaths. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

Turn your attention to your breathing. The mind can’t focus on two things at once, so if you focus on your breath you cease to notice how “obnoxiously” your brother-in-law is behaving!

Try any one of these tips the next time you face a Difficult One. But prepare in advance, and be ready for them. YOU have the power!

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Beverly D. Flaxington is an American businesswoman and founder of The Collaborative.[1] Flaxington is the author of seven books on personal and professional development, including the best-sellers Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior and Make Your SHIFT: The Five Most Powerful Moves You Can Make to Get Where YOU Want to Go

Beverly D. Flaxington, The Human Behavior Coach ®, MBA, is a three-time bestselling and Gold-award winning author, international speaker, successful entrepreneur, business consultant, executive coach, Certified Hypnotherapist, college professor, corporate trainer, facilitator, and Certified Behavioral Analyst. She has created trademarked success models, is often interviewed and quoted on her views. She is also a mother of three children and actively involved in animal rescue. Learn more about her at

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