3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

We all know people that are more "difficult" to interact with than others. While some are blissfully unaware of how they affect those around them, some seem to get a certain amount of satisfaction from pushing our buttons. Regardless, these types of people bring unnecessary stress and complexity into our lives.

Whether it's your overbearing mother-in-law or a less than pleasant co-worker, here are 7 steps you can take to make the best out of dealing with difficult people.

  1. Listen. Although this may be one of the most challenging things to do, listening is one of the most important ways to deal with a difficult person. Everyone wants to feel heard; some just have unique ways of letting others know. Pay attention to what this person is trying to tell you, rather than thinking about what you're going to say next. You might even surprise yourself with what you learn when you set defensiveness aside and read between the lines.
  1. Stay calm. It’s far more challenging to listen if you’re not calm. When you find yourself getting caught up in the heat of the moment, take a step back, and focus on your breathing. 
  1. Reflect and validate. Try to understand the situation. Obtaining some clarity by asking questions while managing your reactions can help find a mutually satisfactory outcome. When you check your understanding, it tells the person you're doing your best to cooperate and understand what they're saying. Although they may not express the way they're feeling verbatim, do your best to empathize. They may not be used to someone trying to understand them, and you may even get a different response from them. 
  1. Seek advice from others. When in doubt, seek out others’ support. Sometimes, discussing it with a trusted source can help you reframe the situation to facilitate a more positive outcome.
  1. Don’t fight fire with fire. Raising your voice or being disrespectful will only add fuel to an already heated situation. Try your best to use a low, calm, even monotone voice. Don't try and talk over them, and use your best judgment in knowing when to respond.
  1. Establish boundaries. While it's important to reflect and listen to a difficult person, everyone has limits on how much they can handle. Recognize what yours are and set clear, appropriate boundaries. You have a right to decide what you choose to tolerate.
  2. Take care of yourself. Once the situation is over, talk to someone about it or find a way to relax. It's important to discharge your stress after setting aside your natural reactions for a while. 

 And finally, give yourself some credit!  It takes a lot of effort not to act like a jerk when someone is deserving of it. Don't skip this step! 

Implementing a few of these strategies will help you de-escalate challenging situations, but keep in mind that everyone responds differently to them. Stay flexible and remember that every unpleasant encounter will pass. As your communication skills improve, these situations become simpler to manage.

It's no question that it takes work to protect, nurture, and improve a marriage. Between your day-to-day responsibilities and obligations, sometimes it can seem like an impossible task. While some relationships may benefit from calling it quits, others can benefit from making a few changes. 
Drawn from evidence-based practices, here are 9 proactive strategies you can do to strengthen your marriage.
  1. Communicate regularly. In the age of technology, it's almost impossible not to get distracted. You may have even experienced days without having a genuine conversation with your spouse. To deepen intimacy and strengthen your relationship, it's essential to feel comfortable communicating about your life, interests, dreams, and stressors. Even for a small amount of time per day, listen to one another express their thoughts and feelings, free from interruptions or distractions. 
  2. Give each other space. Finding the right amount of time to spend with one another is one of the most challenging things to achieve in marriage. Too much can feel smothering, while too little can be misinterpreted as inattentive. While everyone has a different amount of personal space they require, be attentive to you and your partner's needs. The key is that you both make a collective effort to spend quality time together while also allowing each other the space you need.
  3.  Learn to repair and exit the argument. According to expert John Gottman, using humor, offering a caring remark, or even backing down, are examples of repair attempts before an argument gets entirely out of control. The happiest of couples have identified which strategies work best for them and practice them regularly. Generally speaking, offering signs of appreciation and openly sharing feelings along the way is the fundamental idea.  
  4. Focus on the positives. Make an effort to recognize and acknowledge the positives more than the negatives while discussing problems. For example, even if you believe that you "never have any fun together," it may be worth your while to point out the enjoyable, funny times you share. By making regular deposits to your emotional bank account, you promote a more prosperous climate of positivity.
  5. Use the 5 to 1 ratio. According to Gottman, having five positive interactions for every negative one is essential in nurturing a relationship. Everyone can appreciate the many varieties of positive attention, and while acknowledging the things they’re doing well may seem subtle, it can make a lasting change in your relationship. 
  6. Edit your communication skills. Thriving couples are kind to each other. Avoid saying every critical thought that comes to mind when discussing touchy subjects, and find ways to express your needs and concerns respectfully, without blame or shame. 
  7. Divide your labor. While positive interactions and excellent communication are essential, recent studies show that equally, dividing household labor is among the top three reasons people cite as keys to making a marriage work.
  8. Work on your friendship. Friendship correlates with understanding, admiration, and mutual respect. Couples with deep friendships report high levels of marital satisfaction, according to research.
  9. Seek help early. On average, couples wait six years before getting help for marital issues-meaning that the average couple lives with unhappiness and dissatisfaction for far too long. If you feel there's any sign of trouble, seek help early on. There's no shame in working with a counselor to help you and your partner improve your relationship.

We all know what it's like to feel anxious. The butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, headaches, or tightness in the chest are natural to experience when our adrenaline is elevating. And while symptoms of anxiety feel uncontrollable or erratic at times, understanding them is the first step in managing anxiety-and that's where meditation comes in.

Through meditation, we learn to change our relationship with the narratives anxiety wants us to believe. With a new perspective, you're also more likely to experience the following six benefits:

  1. Reduces stress. Stress reduction is one of the most popular reasons people try meditation. When we experience stress, the body releases a variety of stress hormones-one of them being cortisol. This hormone causes the adverse effects of increased stress, which ultimately disrupt sleep, promote symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and the inability to think clearly. According to research, meditation has been extremely effective in decreasing these effects.
  2. Enhances self-awareness. Generally speaking, all meditations work to improve self-awareness.  Some forms of meditation help you develop a stronger sense of self while others recognize any unhelpful or negative thoughts. The idea is that as you gain awareness of these thoughts, you can change how you respond to them and, ultimately, decrease any anxiety they create.
  3. Lengthens attention span. Meditation can be compared to lifting weights for your physical health. If you consider the mind as a mental muscle, meditation works to strengthen it by increasing your attention's endurance. Numerous studies have proven its effectiveness, revealing how regularly practiced meditation allows people to perform better on visual tasks. What's more, some experts say that meditation can even reverse brain patterns that lead to mind-wandering, worrying, and ruminating thoughts. 
  4. Promotes kindness. Some kinds of meditation, such as Loving-Kindness Meditation, promote positive feelings towards yourself and others. When you nurture feelings of unconditional positive regard and kindness towards yourself, you encourage emotions such as love, joy, and cheerfulness- all while reducing self-criticism. Over time, your ability to empathize with others allows you to experience the same within yourself.
  5. Supports emotional health. The benefits of meditation extend to your emotional health. As attention and mood improve, studies have shown that those who meditate also tend to be less affected by negative or adverse stimuli. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a type of psychotherapy that many people with anxiety benefit from utilizing, as it has been shown to have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. 
  6. Improves sleep. Sleep is crucial to our health. If you struggle with anxiety, you know just how anxious thoughts can disrupt sleep, and if you don't get enough of it, it's easier to feel stressed and anxious. Meditation allows you to cope with anxiety-provoking thoughts while releasing tension to promote a peaceful, relaxed state before bedtime. 

The bottom line

Although meditation is an accessible tool that anyone can utilize, it's no quick fix. If you have severe anxiety, it's essential to reach out to a mental health professional. They'll work with you to determine how you can implement meditation into your treatment for the best possible outcome. 

Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a therapeutic approach that has helped thousands of couples. Throughout four decades of research, psychologist and researcher John Gottman discovered certain behaviors in couples who have successful marriages and those who are divorced or separated. As a result of Gottman's detailed research, the Gottman Method is one of the most commonly utilized approaches in couples counseling today. 

What To Expect

The Gottman Method is individually personalized for every couple. The process typically includes the following:

Assessment. You'll start the process with a session including you and your partner, followed by individual interviews with each person. Couples complete assessments or questionnaires and then receive individualized feedback on their relationship.

Therapeutic Framework. The couple and therapist determine the regularity and duration of the sessions.

Therapeutic Interventions. Evidence-based interventions are designed and intended to help couples restore their relationships in three primary areas:

  • Friendship and intimacy
  • Managing conflict effectively
  • The concept of shared meaning

Together, they learn how to foster an environment of empathy and understanding with one another to promote positive change. 

Goals and Principles of the Gottman Method

The Gottman Method's primary goals aim to disarm conflicting or unhealthy verbal communication, deepen intimacy, establish respect, affection, empathy, and understanding between partners. A counselor will educate a couple on the Sound Relationship House theory, which works to achieve these goals while focusing on the day-to-day interactions. The concept consists of the following nine elements:


  • Building love maps
  • Sharing fondness and admiration
  • Turning towards one another
  • The positive perspective 
  • Managing conflict and problem-solving
  • Making life dreams come true
  • Creating shared meaning
  • Trust
  • Commitment


The Gottman Method of Couples Counseling guides couples in learning how to build their own sound relationship house. By creating new habits and replacing old ones, this approach holds a strong belief that any couple can learn and implement successful couples' practices. 

Who Can Benefit from the Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method is devised to support all couples, regardless of race, sexual orientation, culture, or socioeconomic status. 

Some of the concerns that may be addressed in therapy include:

  • A high amount of conflict or arguments
  • Poor or non-existent communication
  • Emotional distance or avoidance
  • Specific problems such as sexual challenges, infidelity, finances, and parenting.

According to The Gottman Institute, even couples with an average amount of conflict may benefit from this approach. Trained therapists who specialize in the Gottman Method aim to help couples build stronger relationships and healthier coping methods with issues as they arise.

If you're considering couples therapy, be sure to find a therapist who specializes in the approach. They’ll empower you and your partner to resolve and manage difficulties while providing you with the tools you need for success.


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About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!