A debut personal-growth manual that asserts that understanding the unconscious motives of “difficult people” can lead to better relationships.
Elliston, a volunteer coordinator for the United Way and a former high school teacher, writes that she used to be surprised by the reactions she would get from some of her colleagues in the nonprofit community, who either avoided or criticized her. Her supervisors frequently mentioned Elliston being “difficult” and having “a need for improved communication skills,” which just added to her bewilderment. She only began to realize how she appeared to others when one supervisor confronted her with specifics about the offending behavior: storming around the office while muttering to herself, “lifting things up and dropping them,” and generally raising the anxiety level of the office. The supervisor added that it was clear that Elliston wasn’t aware of her own conduct and the effects it had on others, but it still had to stop. Stunned, the author searched for why she was so blind to her own actions, and why no one had pointed them out earlier. She quizzed her family members and examined her own childhood, and she uncovered maladaptive habits, such as criticizing, complaining, and blaming, that she mistakenly believed would win her approval. In this book, Elliston suggests techniques for looking beyond “difficult” people’s aggression to understand their fears, their senses of inferiority, and their struggles to be accepted. Posing questions and performing exercises, she says, can lead to a greater understanding of others’ behavior, and techniques drawn from Choice Theory and Reality Therapy offer guidelines for early, though not painless, intervention and necessary conversations. This isn’t just another book about dealing with annoying co-workers, but a fresh look at why they can seem so oblivious. Readers will likely break out the highlighter to record memorable points. Elliston’s suggestions, drawn from the work of Drs. William Glasser, Sidney B. Simon, and Thomas Gordon, will cut through readers’ dread as they plan discussions with others. At times, Elliston’s focus on childhood traumas as causes of “difficult” behavior seems too pat, but her insights and work plan never are.
A practical guide that will bring relief to its readers.