In this episode, let's dive into the art of handling difficult people, especially during the holiday season. I'll guide you through practical steps to navigate challenging people, whether they're passive-aggressive, narcissistic, or downright mean.
We'll explore insights into understanding your own thoughts and emotions leading up to interactions with THAT person or people and emphasize the importance of setting realistic expectations. You'll learn strategies to create stronger personal boundaries. I'll also share techniques for handling difficult situations during holiday events, including the power of pause breaks and having a supportive partner or ally.
We'll wrap up with tips on initiating uncomfortable conversations, setting boundaries, and ultimately prioritizing self-care during gatherings. Tune in to equip yourself with valuable tools to maintain balance and protect your well-being when facing challenging individuals this holiday season.
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Welcome to the Balance Code podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel of day-to-day life and learn tools to create more balance. My name is Katie Russell. I'm a licensed therapist and burnout and hidden grief specialist. I support ambitious, goal-driven people who are ready to get off the one-way train, to burnout and start to enjoy life to the fullest. Oh and, by the way, I'm an American living in Germany who's still learning the language, mom of three and an entrepreneur. Learning my Balance Code is what keeps me able to work in incredible ways without burning out. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we're talking about how to deal with difficult people in your life, and I'm calling it the holiday edition because that's where we are. Whether you have a holiday work party coming up, family gatherings, you have somebody visiting or you will be visiting someone and you know some challenges lie ahead, I'm going to be teaching you some tools on how to handle difficult people this holiday season. Before we dive in, I want to remind you about my monthly membership call the Stress Less Space. A member last week shared with me that she feels like it's like opening a gift every week just for her. There are five to seven minute audios in the Private Telegram Channel that teach you some tools on how to handle stress more effectively From everything from physical outlets to looking at mindset and the lead system shifts to dealing with the emotions that come up when we're stressed. Every week, I teach you a special tool you can use that week. So it feels very specific to okay. I only need to do this one thing this week to improve how I'm experiencing my stress. If this feels like something that you want in your life too, and a special little gift you want to have for yourself every week, check the link below for the Stress Less Space. Let's dive in on how to deal with difficult people in your life. Now I want you to start off with thinking about one to two people who are really challenging that you'll be seeing in the coming weeks. Probably not hard to do, but I'm going to give you a moment and I want you to think about what exactly about them is so challenging. What's so difficult? Is it that they're super passive, aggressive? They're very narcissistic. They tend to bring up things from the past to embarrass you. They can be just darn right mean. What is it about them that gets under your skin? Now, as you think about that. I want you to take a moment and think about the thoughts and emotions you already have leading up to this event that's coming up Now. Don't worry, I'm not going to have you go. No, let's think hopeful thoughts that everything will be different Absolutely not, if that's unrealistic in these situations. This person is challenging and difficult and you already know it because you probably have a good history with them. So why would I tell you to think differently? No, but I want you to go ahead and say here are the thoughts and feelings I have coming up, here are the worries and fears, here are the things that I know already. Then, when you have that all in the forefront, I want you to set some realistic expectations. It is very easy for my clients to go into any holiday event and just like, blah, I don't know, we'll just navigate it as we go. You can't do that when you're handling difficult people, especially during holiday events where you've got other family members around or colleagues. You need to go in with a plan. Let's start with some realistic expectations. What might that look like? I expect my boss to make inappropriate comments. I expect my mother to be passive, aggressive about XYZ. I would encourage you to write these out. There might be more than one person that you're going to be talking to where you need to go. Okay, this person. Here are the realistic expectations. There's a part of us that always holds onto the hope that they'll be different. And heck, maybe they will be. But the reality is we can't go into any situation feeling like our guard is down, so already knowing what you will expect, and you kind of laugh at it as you see it on paper, right, like holy geez. I really feel bad for this person. I think this is okay to do, but they think this is socially appropriate, to be like this, or that when family gatherings come up, they think it's great to embarrass other people. Like what? Huh? That seems so sad and as a therapist, I go well. Clearly they're trying to deflect from their own embarrassments, but I don't expect you to have to therapist them in any way. I just want you to think about what are realistic expectations for the event coming up with that person, based off of what you've experienced before. Okay, so now we know who the person is, how you're thinking and feeling about seeing them soon and the situations and events. You'll be with them and it might be that you're stuck with them for a matter of hours. It might be that you're stuck with them for a matter of dates. That's okay. Just set it all out on paper so we understand what you're working with. Then we're going to really look at what the expectations are for how they are, who they are, how they are. They've always been this way. I'm not going into this event hoping that it will be different. There's this inner child in us who always is looking for confirmation in a positive way, for something right. I want to be loved, I want to be accepted, I want to be worthy, I want to be in. This particular person in your life knocks that little kid in you down every time. It's like the schoolyard bully. So we're going to help prepare that little kid in you, as well as the adult version of you, for how to handle what's next. So we have our expectations, and here's the first tool. I want you to start practicing before you even see them. I want you to imagine there's like an energy force field around you. You get to be that little kid in your mind. You can close your eyes and picture this right. There's like you're in a bubble. It's your personal bubble you feel when somebody starts to come too close to you, right, even if it's like they're coming from behind, you're like, whoa, somebody's near me. That's your personal bubble. You already have this, but we're going to actually like make you more aware of it. So close your eyes and imagine you've got that personal bubble around you and you can make it as thick as you want with whatever texture, whatever material it's made of. I like to think of mine almost like a windshield. So it's like this really strong protective glass, and when someone says or does something, it's like bugs hitting the windshield. But I have windshield wipers in mine. I don't know about you Maybe you should get them installed but I have windshield wipers on mine. So when a bug hits it, I'm like I imagine like, clean that surface off. Nope, you can't touch me. So imagine right now you're sitting at that dinner table or at that work event or staying at that person's house, and they start to do exactly what you put on paper that you expect them to do. Now I want you to imagine the scenario where the ball is visible to everyone and so you're like they're saying stuff and it's like bugs being thrown at you, right, and you're like or something washes. Maybe you have like a car wash function on yours and it just cleans it. It doesn't seep into you and that little child in you doesn't get pushed down in the schoolyard, right? You have this emotional bubble around you Now. For some of you, you might go well. Sometimes it feels like they're slinging rocks at me. Yeah, totally, I get that, and so you need something that's a little bit stronger. I just want you to imagine that what they say and do, you're not a sponge to. You don't have to soak up. You are able to hear it or see it or whatever, and be like not mine, not mine to deal with, quite sad. Do you think that's okay, but not mine. Even when they say I can't believe you did this, I'm so disappointed that you did this, it's a shame. Those words they like to use to hit in our hearts. Right windshield wiper cleaning function on Sorry, those are not mine. That has something to do with you feeling like a disappointment, that you feeling shame around something that has nothing to do with me. So you've got your energetic shield right and at the time of the event, when you're with them, before you walk in and see them, I want you to be like shield up right, here's the bubble. I'm ready. And it's amazing when my clients use this and I use it as well, I'm like, wow, this is kind of fun. Nothing they say or do impacts me like it used to, but what about when they're really chunking rocks at you? Okay, so this is where I like to have pause breaks in any gathering that I'm at, where I'm like I need a moment. Of course, you can go to the bathroom. You can start cleaning something up. You can go hey, I need to step out and get some fresh air. If you are allowed to do that, oh, what happened? Why? What's wrong? Just need fresh air. Lots of people need to breathe some fresh air. It's okay. But having a plan for that, when I get to the point where I'm about to say or do something that I will regret because of how they're acting, because of the realistic expectations I knew that they would meet, I'm gonna go and do these particular things. Now, it's really helpful when you have a partner who's on board or family members who get it, that when you do that thing, they know to come in and go hey, are you okay? What do you need? Or vice versa. Right. This might be the code when they step away and say I need fresh air and you go, check in on them. When we have someone in our corner at these events, it feels much more relaxing and less like we're alone. And often other people feel the same way as we do when we're at these family gatherings or work functions or even friend gatherings. So being able to kind of find that person who can be your person and go, hey, I really need this. Then it's like, oh, okay, I'll be the support for you, or I'll step up and go hey, let's change the subject, let's talk about something else. So when you feel like rocks are being thrown at you, allow for those moments of pause. Now, let's say they go, but you're so sensitive Like, oh, you needn't to take another break. Is it just too much for you? You are allowed to go. Yes, yes, it is, thank you, and walk away. It is totally fine. There's nothing wrong with that. You are allowed to call a spade a spade. Yes, this is too much, I need some fresh air. Or if you're an introvert, you'd be like introvert need a moment. You are allowed to claim it as it is Now. If you do not want to start a fight, then I would be really careful to be like it's because you just said this to me. So be responsible in how you create those pauses for yourself and know that people might go. What's wrong? Why did you leave the table? Is it what I said? And you can decide whether or not you tell them or not. Now I know in the past that I have had to have difficult discussions with family members before I've even had the family gathering or I've been at work situations where I needed to sit down and talk with somebody and go hey, I just need to better understand this. If this is going to happen, then I'm going to leave early. And that can help too, because it sets the stage for maybe the people who are a little bit challenging but not the most challenging to be aware to that you have limits and boundaries to what you're going to allow in front of your children, your partner, in front of you. So don't be afraid to have those discussions and set realistic expectations for everybody involved, especially if the host is there and you're a little bit afraid they're going to be upset. If you need to leave early, you can go ahead and let them know. Like, hey, I'm going to be there as long as I can, but you know what. I have limits and when. So-and-so says or does these things on repeat and my energy bubble is like I give up. No more windshield wiper, everything's breaking down. Malfunction, malfunction. I need to go and that's okay. Okay, exit strategy plan let's talk about that. So something you can have in your back pocket at all times is to be able to just set again realistic expectations of guys. You know what. I may have to leave early today from this event. We've got a lot going on tomorrow, the next week, but we are going to try to be here. I'm going to try to be here as long as possible. Okay, I'm going to enjoy this as much as I can. Oh, that's a shame. Are you sure that's about them? It's okay. If they're disappointed, go back and listen to that episode from season one. It's okay. If they're disappointed, you are setting the realistic expectations. When you stand up, grab your back and go, that they're like oh, she already told us that was going to happen. Now, if you're at an event or say you're staying with someone and you are not able to go as easily, this is something where, if you're with a partner or someone that you can have as a teammate, that you can go hey, I need to go pick up some items from the grocery store, or I need to go for a longer walk, or I'm going to bed that they're able to vouch for you and you can just step away and they're able to go. Oh yeah, oh yeah, he's fine, she's fine, don't worry, they're good. What are we talking about? Well, we are either. Everything's good, I promise, just let them be. Let's talk about XYZ. I love going into situations like this. If I'm going to be the support person for somebody's like about to leave with what are some conversation topics I can bring up that I know everyone loves to talk about, and it will distract them very easily. The same can be said for having a plan for discussion topics before you even attend the event, where you can sit down and go. Okay, these are the things they love to talk about that are like not off limits, that don't lead to really bad arguments, or, if they lead to difficult discussions, it's actually like good discussions and it's okay. Have those in your back pocket too, but when the time comes to leave, be comfortable with the uncomfortable. They're not gonna like it. People are gonna be bothered. People are gonna be hurt. It is not your role to fix that for them. You're there to protect yourself. You wanna have a nice holiday gathering or event, and the moment that it starts to become too difficult to manage and you're finding yourself really hurting inside, it's the time when you should probably leave a little before them. But it's the time to go. It's the time to make it very clear to whomever that partner is in the room I can't do this anymore. That's okay. You're allowed to leave. I give you permission, but I need you to give yourself permission to leave early from functions that you feel like I'm supposed to. I have to. What will they say? Well, all of that is just about other people. You have to go to bed and wake up to yourself. You have to look in the mirror at yourself every day. Can you do that when you feel like you're always bending over backwards for other people? I know that's a hard pill to swallow, but we need to be more aware of what it is that we're willing to sacrifice in our own values and of our own self-esteem and self-worth just because we want to make sure somebody doesn't feel uncomfortable over a couple hours, I don't know. I think it's more worth us taking care of ourselves, okay. So hopefully you found these tools on how to handle, deal with difficult people, especially during this holiday season, helpful, and whether you have that work event or you've got that family gathering, or you'll be staying with someone or they're staying with you, now you have some tools to say, okay, I'm allowed to step away. I have some conversation pieces that will help, and I have my energy bubble up where I can just wipe off whatever they say, because it's not really about me, it's about them and their issues. And my little kid doesn't need to be bullied anymore. She doesn't need to be pushed at the playground or he doesn't need to be thrown off of the slide. No, you get to defend and protect that little person inside of you and you don't have to do it by being the bully back. Most of us think that's what we have to retaliate with, but we don't have to. Good, healthy boundaries are strong enough. You don't have to attack back. I wish you the best during this holiday season, and if you're listening to this outside of the holiday season, then I guarantee there'll be times where you need these tools too, so make sure to use them. Thank you for listening, and here's to finding our balance code. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. If so, take a moment to leave a rating and a review, interested in learning more about my work and the resources I have to support you in this season of your life. Check out the links in the show notes to connect and learn more and, as always, here's to finding our balance code.