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How to Work with Difficult People

On an afternoon over five years ago, I was yelling at him – yelling at my former husband.

He doesn’t hear well, and I was trying to communicate with him across two rooms.

“Where is the light switch in here?” I yelled. My yelling made me feel more angry.

That bad feeling caused more bad feelings and…before I knew it, I was fighting with him - about nothing.

I became the difficult person.

When you raise your voice in frustration and anger as I did, you increase your negative energy.

Negative energy creates upset in your mind (thoughts) and your body (feelings).

When you are upset, holding onto those bad thoughts and feelings, you can lose control and allow yourself to become the difficult person.

When you are challenged with a hard situation, remember: you are 100% responsible for your behavior.

When you raise your voice at a meeting or type a frustrated and angry email – you send negative energy.

You can’t feel good and have positive energy when you are frustrated, feeling negative.

It simply isn’t possible.

Decide today to change your automatic negative reaction.

Decide to be the positive person who creates good.

This will change your feelings, which will shift your actions in a positive way – and your results will improve.

Here is my favorite tool – PBS – Pause, Breathe and Smile – to use when you are challenged.

REMEMBER: “Between stimulus and response is all your opportunity.”

PAUSE - Pause - this calms your body; it lowers stress and allows you to reconsider your response.

BREATHE - Breathe deeply – inhale and exhale; this shifts you on a cellular level, reducing your stress.

SMILESmile and hold your smile – for 30 seconds – or more. Your brain responds – you feel better.

Smiling releases hormones that lower blood pressure, act as antidepressants, and boost your immune system.

Try it – SMILE right now. Just smiling improves your health. Commit to smiling more often.

The point: when I forgot to use PBS, I became the difficult person.

Rather than moving closer to my former husband – changing my response - I yelled across rooms.

You cannot yell and feel calm. The key is interrupting your automatic reaction.

Next time I will notice when I am reacting (yelling, stressed, tense) and use PBS to be a powerful, kind person.

It takes self-awareness and self-control to create positive energy, focused work, and great results.

Ask yourself, “Where is my energy, and where do I want it to be?”

Remember – you and I are 100% responsible for our energy and actions.

Next time I am helping someone, in a meeting, or working on a difficult situation with a family member, I will show up as a kind and patient person.

I will use PBSPause, Breathe and SMILE to feel better and perform better when I am challenged. Then I can be the kind, effective, in-control person – not the difficult person - no matter what.


Paula’s leadership training transforms your company’s culture into a place that engages and retains top talent, saving millions. Her clients include Coca-Cola, Lowe’s, Microsoft, KPMG and Collins Aerospace.

Paula Guilfoyle

Paula Guilfoyle

Training Leaders to Be Resilient

Phone: (704) 906-8045


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