We all know someone difficult. Some people complain about everything, others are lazy, or overly dramatic, or bossy and demanding. Sometimes they are our coworkers, or classmates, or family, or our significant other. Often, their behavior doesn’t make any sense to us, and it’s just plain frustrating!

My closest friends know that I believe there’s a reason for everything, but that doesn’t mean I always know the reason! Only recently was I enlightened as to why difficult people are often difficult, and how to change their behavior! It’s pretty powerful stuff.

I’ve been attending professional development seminars through National Seminars Training, and I’ve learned some awesome things… so here’s one nugget for you all.

First, people aren’t difficult, they’re different. Corny, right? I know. But it’s true – we have to first remember that everyone is a little different from ourselves and ticks in a different way in order to use the next piece of knowledge.

Second, when people are difficult, it’s because a need is not being met.

So when you come across a difficult person, think about what need they may have that’s not being met, and how your response fuels, or doesn’t fuel, their behaviors that make them difficult.

There’s a heck of a lot to this, and tons of great examples to illustrate the point, but I won’t write a book here. Joe Gilliam authors resources on these concepts if interested in more info. OR, post here for more discussion!

It is human nature to get a job done with as little effort as possible. Unfortunately, this trend had led to poor personal health, poor public health, and harm to our environment.

The theory is, if you make something fun, you’re much more likely to change human behavior, even if it requires more effort.

Check it out at The Fun Theory. They have videos proving the theory. It’s awesome!

Especially the Piano Stairs. And the World’s Deepest Bin. And the Bottle Bank Arcade.

“It could be worse.”

When I hear someone say this phrase, I usually think the person is looking on the bright side, being optimistic. A good thing, right?

But what if the alternative response is “Yes, but it could be better!”

In our attempts to be relatively positive, might we miss opportunities for improvement? Opportunities to be creative and find new solutions?

Imagine what we could do if we changed our perspective and tried to find ways to make things better rather than settling for something that’s not a worst-case scenario!

Ever have to give a speech or presentation to a group of people and you get all nervous, sweaty, stuttery. Too nervous to even remember what you said when you finished?

I truly think public speaking fear can be largely diminished with a few small shifts in perspective.

Reasons for this fear, and effective ways of dealing with it will vary for everyone, but here are a few tips I’ve come up with myself and gathered from other folks. Some are perception changers – some are just plain, good advice.

1 – Prepare.

Duh! We all know it, but there are so often times when we don’t do it! So prepare.

2 – Remember that your audience wants you to succeed.

Place yourself in their shoes. Most often, when you’re watching someone give a presentation, you’re wishing them well. You aren’t hoping they crash and burn, or looking for every little flaw. Remember that your audience is most likely on your side!

3 – Breathe.

4 – Silence is your friend.

Numbers 3 and 4 are similar. Sometimes taking a pause is the best thing you can do. It allows you to breathe, collect your thoughts without stuttering, and allow a point you’ve made to sink in to your audience. A pause seems much longer to you than your audience, so it’s not as awkward as you think! Do it.

5 -Think about how easy it is to share from a seat in the audience

A lot of times people share with a group from a seat in the audience. We may ask a question, tell a story, provide an answer or an idea. Either way, if told to stand in front of the group and say the same thing, we often freeze up and get nervous. But nothing has changed except our location in the room! Remind yourself that you’re still speaking to the same group of people, just standing in a different spot.

6 – Remember that the people in your audience are people.

Sometimes presenting to folks who you perceive as your superiors can be intimidating. I’ve always found it helps me (even during one-on-one meetings) to remember that the person I am facing is just another person, like me. No better. No worse. Just another person with a different set of experiences than I currently possess. At one point in time, they probably sat in the same, or a similar, seat as me.

7 – Remove attention from yourself.

A fellow participant in seminar I recently attended volunteered this one. He becomes more relaxed and at ease during a presentation if he directs attentin away from himself for a moment after the introduction. It could be something as simple as introducing a colleague, showing a short clip. Either way, it gives him control of the room, a moment to relax, and the ability to move on with the presentatino in a collected fashion.

Ok, that’s all for now. If you want to share some ideas of your own, click the Comment button!

I’m watching the new ABC show “What Would You Do?” for the third time, and it’s amazing. They use hidden cameras and hire actors and actresses to act through difficult situations to see how normal people react. Examples I’ve seen include a a victim/perpetrator of domestic violence in a cafe, pilots drinking before they fly, a woman asking someone to blow the breathalyzer in her car, etc.

I would recommend everyone catch this show at some point. It’s an awesome way to make people think about what they do, or don’t do, to help others, and why.

One of the scenarios tonight is sexual harassment of a waitress by her male manager. In both this scenario, and the scenario of the women with their abusers in the cafe, women who are dressed conservatively are rescued by bystanders while those who are dressed less conservatively are not. Why?

Not everyone has a reason, but people most often comment on how she’s dressed, and that she’s asking for it. And by people, I mean women.

In some cases, men wanted to intervene, but their wives encouraged them not to.

We, as women, allow other women to be mistreated and abused, turning the other cheek, simply because the victim is dressed in a way that we may not approve of… think about it.

When I began my Challenge of 2010, most people doubted that I could do something new every day. Once I gave them a few examples of how sheltered I really have been, they emphatically agreed that it was possible, but still challenging. Which it is!

What blew my mind was that so many people said that they could not do it, or that they did not want to. Some people even went so far as to say that they’ve done pretty much everything they want to!

That’s shenanigans!

There is a whole, unexplored world out there! Regardless of how much you’ve experienced, there’s always more to learn, to do, to see, to eat, to touch, to feel… you get the point!

If you’d asked me on December 31, 2009 whether I had any desire to go streaking, rollerblading through the streets of Pittsburgh, to an opera, or move someone’s parking chairs, I never would’ve said yes.

Not everything on the list has been great, but the Challenge has opened the door to so many awesome opportunities. The Challenge may not be for everyone, but there is something great about saying “yes” to things you would normally turn down.

Point is – don’t limit yourself! Think bigger, be bolder, and experience life!

One feature of the Health Care Reform that was recently passed is that insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions (this provision is phased in).

I was reading the White House Blog today to get some more facts on the bill, and discovered that in D.C. and eight states, insurance companies have been able to classify domestic violence as a preexisting condition, and deny a person coverage based on this!

I don’t know how often this actually happens, but it speaks to my most recent blog post, and confirms that yes, we do have ridiculous laws that prevent victims of domestic violence from getting the care they need!

I was watching tv yesterday and saw one of Sarah McLachlan’s commercials for animals who’ve been abused, and it made me think.

We see commercials, webpages, ads, and you-name-it’s all the time from organizations asking for donations or your support through adoption for animals that have been abused. When we hear about animal abuse in the news, we’re appalled. I’m talking to you Michael Vick!

Compare that to how often we see media campaigns talking about victims of domestic violence. Rarely. To be fair, college communities do a pretty decent job. But I’m talking about outside the college bubble. National statistics point to 1 in 4 women being victims of abuse at some point in their life. 1 in 4. That’s huge! And of course men are victims of abuse as well.

Now, I know people and animals are two different things, and I’m not saying we should support one in favor of another. I’m just saying, where’s the awareness and the support for our fellow men and women who face abuse? Why is the silence so loud when it comes to people? Maybe it’s because we expect people to speak out for themselves, but animals aren’t able to. Maybe we’re afraid to talk about it because we assume it’s embarrassing or we don’t want to get it wrong. Whatever it is, I think something needs to change.

Maybe the outrage and disgust that we see when pets are abused is out there for domestic violence… am I missing it?

This is the view out my kitchen window.

One day as I was sitting looking out my window, I noticed that in this neighborhood full of houses and families, no one was outside.

Think back to what you imagine to be the beginning of mankind. Think about the shelter that people lived in. For thousands of years, and even in some parts of the world today, shelter was designed as just that, shelter. It was used to protect people from the weather. It wasn’t the center of social life. People congregated in community spaces and in the outdoors unless they were cooking, working in the home, resting, or escaping the elements.

Flash forward to today. Look at the picture above. The houses are right next to each other, yet no one is interacting on a warm, sunny day.

What was designed to keep us safe has been turned into a barrier to keep ourselves in and others out. In fact, we often work pretty hard to keep other people out. We no longer live in our communities. We live in our homes. That’s where we spend our time.

Where do you live?

You might think the title is a metaphor, but it’s not. It’s a true statement. I wish I was a giant so I could roll down hills of broccoli.

When I was in the Appalachian Mountains in August 2008, I had this thought while standing on top of a mountain. From the top of the mountain, all the trees below me looked like little pieces of broccoli, and the mountain range looked like a series of hills. I felt like I should’ve been able to run off the mountain and just skip through the mountain range and roll down the mountains. I imagined the “hills of broccoli” would be soft.

My friend who was with me said that I already was a giant, but I ignored her because that didn’t make any sense. I’m short!

At some later date, I realized than I AM a giant, depending on your perspective. Compared to ants or other bugs, I am. If I was teeny tiny, I would be lost in a forest of grass. I’d probably climb a tree at some point and wish I could be a giant and roll down hills of grass, and I can! I was reminded of this on my recent trip to Phipps Conservatory when I stood under huge plants that made me feel like an ant (it was awesome! I visualized it for a bit!).

So in a way, I am a giant. And so are all of you! Go roll down some hills! Seriously.

I still wish I could roll down mountains.

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