When I speak about dealing with a difficult child, I often describe that child as prickly. Perhaps you live with a prickly person, whether it be a child, spouse, or some other relative.
How Do You Live With A Prickly Person?
Are you wondering what I mean by a prickly person? What are some prickly personality traits?
This person may be described in some of the following ways:
- Hard to get along with
- Easily offended
- Often growly and snarly
- Negative about things
- Critical about people and things
- Angry in spirit
- They often put a damper on things by their unhappy disposition
Living with a prickly person isn’t easy, because you feel like you always have to be on guard not to say or do the wrong thing. You don’t want to inadvertently trigger them and get them started with their angry, unhappy responses. It’s also hard to live with a prickly person like this and keep your own spirit up.
How do you deal with prickly personalities and keep them from bringing YOUR spirit down?
For instance, how do you live with difficult people without it making you stressed or angry in return?
1. Don’t take it personally.
These kinds of people really don’t have it in for you, despite the fact that it may seem as though they do. Realize that they are hurting, or struggling and unintentionally lashing out at you.
2. When they have been extra prickly and it’s getting to you, stop and say a quick prayer for them.
It is very hard to stay upset at someone when you pray for them! This will help your spirit in a HUGE way and will help you feel more loving towards them.
3. When they are grumbling and putting a damper on things, turn on some GOOD uplifting Christian music.
My favorite at these times is to listen to Scripture songs. God’s Word quickly works to lift my spirit and keep me calm.
4. Realize that often a tough prickly exterior is hiding a soft, sensitive heart.
Strong personalities often put up a shell to protect themselves from hurt, but they are really very tender and soft-hearted.
When hurt, they cover it by lashing out and acting rough and tough.
What may seem to you as an attack is simply them trying to handle their hurt or worries. (Go back to number one, and remember that it’s not personal!)
5. Don’t engage during an outburst.
Let them know that you will talk about it later, but not till they have calmed down.
Then walk away from it.
Refuse to be drawn into the conflict when they are being prickly.
6. Recognize what triggers their prickly responses.
If you know what is likely to set them off, then it’s easy to be more aware and careful. You can also talk to that prickly person when you know what their triggers are, so they can work to control their reactions when they recognize a trigger is about to set them off.
For more help on this topic, I share what some common triggers are for the prickly person (read 6 Of The Most Common Triggers For Prickly People Here). You’ll also find help and tips in How To Respond To A Prickly Person!
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These are good suggestions but I also agree that “prickly” people need to be responsible for their own behavior and should work towards being less prickly.
Thank you Kelly!
This is so good, Kathie! I also deeply appreciate Grace’s response in the comments section with additional ideas.
Thank you Ashley. I’m glad you enjoyed them!
To the person who wrote: “Are you suggesting we walk on eggshells? Are you suggesting it is our fault?”
I would respond, that the article does in no way suggest these things. Rather, that you:
1. Don’t take it personal
2. Pray for that person
3. Listen to uplifting music
4. Don’t engage them during an outburst
5. Find out what is triggering them
I would also add that there are some general phrases you can use, such as:
“I’m sorry you feel that way.”
“Your anger is not my responsibility.”
“I see you are upset about that. What do you think you are going to do about that?”
(if they are having a tantrum) “I hope you feel better…walk away…I’ll be in my room, and when you calm down, then we can talk.”
“Why do you feel that way. I want to know, so I can better understand what you are saying.”
And many more… but we must always be respectful of the other person as well as being assertive and setting boundaries. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but with practice, patience and prayer it can be done.
On a side note** If the person is going beyond just being “prickly” and going toward “volcanic” or “explosive” (i.e. abusive) in a dangerous manner, then this calls for different tactics to protect yourself or another person.
This is so practical! Thank you! I also really liked your post on parenting teens, too. Thank you for sharing your insight! Ashley
Are you suggesting we walk on eggshells? Are you suggesting it is our fault?