Dealing With Difficult People, Starting with Yourself

Making Friends with Your Inner Judge

  1. What makes you difficult? What do you DO that stimulates you to think of yourself as difficult?
  2. What does your inner JUDGE say about your actions? 
  3. What are your feelings connected to each judgment?
  4. What are your unmet needs connected to each judgment?

1. Action: I chose to co-facilitate with someone who did not have the competencies I expected. 

2. Inner Judge:3. Feelings4. Needs
I’m so stupid, could ruin my reputationdisappointedrecognition 
I’ve never been wrong about people beforeshockedtrust my intuition
I was duped by his on-line articulationbewilderedcareful choice

Making Friends with Your Inner Chooser

  1. Think again about what you DO that stimulates you to think of yourself as difficult.
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Trigger Translation Journal

1. Trigger – 

The first step is capturing some stimulating moments, the words or events, the “trigger” with no censoring – anything goes. Not telling anyone else, just acknowledging something came up with some charge for me. Remembering, when I focus on wrongness or blame, my attention can easily move to seeking someone to punish. It might be I want to punish the other person for treating me poorly, or I may kick myself for being stupid or not learning better. I mention the “trigger” below and move to step 2.

2. Observation –

The second step is to translate this stimulus/trigger into a simple, neutral description (no judgments or labels) – what took place; an observation.… Read more

What is Empathy

What is empathy?  

  1. A way to connect with 
    1. how it is for the person
    2. what they are trying to convey
    3. a deeper essence of what is going on in them


  1. To connect with others
  2. To understand others
  3. To increase my capacity to be compassionate (pleasurable and empowering) 
  4. To contribute to another’s well-being
    1. their need for connection with another person
    2. their need for understanding
    3. their need for clarity
    4. their need for compassion/self-compassion


  1. By focusing our attention on feelings and needs

When to speak it aloud?

  1. To deepen the quality of our connection: 
    1. when I want to check if my understanding matches their experience
    2. when I sense the person wants confirmation they’re understood
  2. When I sense it would support the person’s clarity or deeper self-connection (use this with discretion and caution)

For more articles like this, go to the www.authenticcommunicationgroup.comRead more

What Empathy Is Not

When a person is telling us of a struggle they are having, there are many ways we can respond.  There is a specific type of response described in Nonviolent Communication, called the empathic guess, or empathic inquiry, or sometimes just referred to as empathy.  There are many other ways of responding.  We are not saying that any response is good or bad in itself.  We just want to clarify at this point what empathy is not.

Non-Empathic Responses 

  1. Judging:   criticizing the person or their point of view.
    1. I can’t believe you…
    2. You’re so…
  2. Consoling: 
    1. Oh you poor thing…
  3. Interpreting: telling the person what their motives are
    1. I think you’re doing this because
  4. Spiritual Bypass: 
    1. If you trust in God/Universe/Higher Power it’ll work out. 
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Three Choices for Connection

  1. Self Empathy

Think of a time when things didn’t go as well as you would like.

  • What happened? 
  • How did you feel?
  • What needs of yours were unfulfilled?
  1. Empathy Guesses for Another

What were you telling yourself about this person?

  • What could the person feel?
  • What could the person be needing?
  1. Honest Self Expression

If you weren’t being careful, what would you say to this person? Translate:

  • Observation
  • Feeling
  • Need
  • Request

For more articles like this, go to the www.authenticcommunicationgroup.comRead more

Mirror Activity


  1. Talk about the value of self empathy.
  2. Look in the mirror for 2 minutes. 
  3. Write down your thoughts on sticky notes and place them on the mirror – 3 minutes.
  4. As you take each sticky note off the mirror, unpack each thought using OFN – 5 minutes.
  5. You can see yourself again! 
  6. Share your experience with a partner and get empathy. 10 minutes each way.
  7. Debrief the learning.
  8. Put the group seated close together as witnesses. Each person sits in front of the group 
  9. one at a time and looks in the mirror, says I love you to self, and then looks at each person in the group. 
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NVC Distinctions

Exercise 1: Observation or Evaluation?

Which statements include observations, free of evaluation? Translate statements with  evaluations into possible observations.

  1. “Raj pounded on the table and said he was tired of the tone police.”
  1. “Jane didn’t ask me to come to the affinity group meeting.”
  1. “My boss is a good manager.”
  1. “Lila works long hours.”
  1. “Bob was furious with me yesterday and he left for no reason.”
  1. “Mika has a lot of power.”
  1. “Shaun was the first one to leave every day this week.”
  1. “The two teams rarely speak to each other.”
  1. “Tony told me my filing system was amazing.”
  1. “Wasim complained about me and implied that I was insensitive to people from the global south.”
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Rescuing Disowned Parts and Time Travel

This process is developed by Sarah Peyton and Susan Skye, both CNVC-trainers, and adapted by Pernille Plantener.

Make sure to practice the process several times with a peer both ways before offering it to clients. Respect hesitation and reluctance as an expression of protectors stepping in. Remember: Protectors are there for a reason and respecting them is respecting the client and the whole system.

This outline does NOT equip you to work with clients who experience severe childhood trauma. We encourage you to check your gut feeling as you engage in this process. Both coach and client can step out at any moment.… Read more

Inner Critic Types

By Jay Earley, PhD
with NVC empathic responses by Pernille Plantener.

The empathy guesses in Italics are suggestions for how to empathize with the critic itself, the exile it is protecting, and the opposite of the critic, which often enters the scene in defense when the critic is harsh.

In our study of the Inner Critic, we have identified the following seven types of Inner Critics that people are troubled by:

This critic tries to get you to do things perfectly.
It sets high standards for the things you produce and has difficulty saying something is complete and letting it go out to represent you.… Read more

Connecting with the Part’s Energy or Life Force

Originally published in  Coaching for Transformation

Sometimes we refer to parts as energies. In seeking the gift that each part brings, we put our attention on their energy, which can reveal their underlying purpose. Even if a part is frustrated, angry or hurt, underneath is the life force. When we feel the core of the anger or pain, we fully accept the emotions and create space for the fullness of their expression.

At the center of longing is pure energy. Connect with that pure energy and the heavens open. Just sitting with the pure energy of a part can be a deeply satisfying, mystical experience.… Read more