“Dorice, how can we handle challenging situations, and challenging people?” Who does not want to know the answer to this question -- NO ONE.


That was a question I was asked as I led a group of 14 leaders from Hewlett-Packard. More than 900 participants from HP chose to engage in the very first Positive Intelligence training cohort the company offered in the summer of 2022. What a gift HP provided its employees: the gift of mental fitness! A time dedicated to self-development and fostering awareness to improve what is known as “soft skills,” regarding them -- rightly so -- as necessary for the success of individuals, their satisfaction with their work and ultimately the advancement of the company’s goals. I was one of five coaches selected by the Positive Intelligence company to facilitate the leaders’ conversations.

In my group facilitation, I had leaders from Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States. A rich cultural experience. For some it was morning and for others late into the night. The participants absorbed the Positive Intelligence concepts and practices in a deep and meaningful way that allowed them to connect to their purpose and create an awareness in their everyday communication with others. Yet this topic of handling challenging situations and challenging people kept on taking center stage of many discussions.

Would you be interested in learning how to handle challenging situations with challenging people?

It may be hard to admit, but the immediate thought that enters my mind is the knowledge and conclusion that we cannot change others. We often wish to learn how to deal with challenging people by “teaching” them how to be more like us, or if they only learn what we know, then they will act/be/feel different and better. Well, unfortunately, we need to let that notion go.

We can’t impose on others what we know as our own truth.

There are, however, a few tips I would like you to consider if you find yourself in this bind.

1. Be aware of your own judgment. Thoughts such as “They are wrong, they are being so negative, they are mistaken…” In other words, don’t let other people’s actions activate your own saboteurs. And the way to get there is to first create the awareness on our end. Do PQ (Positive Intelligence exercises) so you can remain in the sage brain and not be triggered by their behavior/actions/language.

2. Understand the contagion effect. Some people may know it as the mirroring effect. If a person is strong in their saboteur and they are dominant, they can take others down. Have you ever been in a meeting where you arrived in a good mood, and one person takes the group down? Or vice-versa, you come into a meeting not in the best of moods, but someone there just picks you up with their positive energy? That is the effect that we can have on people. We can all elevate people or bring them down. Choose what effect you want to have on others and develop mental fitness to sustain it. I know it is hard, believe me! Many times I wanted to throw my hands up in defeat, but when I thought about it in a calm way, I wanted to have a more peaceful, loving, calm existence.

3. Be laser focused on what you want to achieve and communicate it without judgment. Connect yourself to the outcome you want to achieve and your reasons for it.

4. Find the 10 percent that they are right. Every challenging conversation offers us some room to grow. Where can you grow in empathy? Understanding? Can you cultivate curiosity in exploring other solutions?

5. Speak about your own experience. If you were trained in Positive Intelligence or other modalities that make an impact on your life with your loved ones as well as your colleagues, share them and be an example to others. Others will be more open to a new way of doing things when they see how it affects and influences others. Not pressuring others, just personalizing it as it affects us.

7. Transition yourself to “Accept or Convert.” Sometimes nothing we do will change the situation. Learn to accept that this is the present situation and move on. The reality is that some things will not change. Converting the situation can be done in two different ways. We can either convert the situation to something more desired or convert our feelings about the situation. How? By finding the hidden gift and opportunity. What strength do you need to grow in order to handle this challenging situation? What knowledge? What are you inspired to do moving forward?

Take it as no joke when I say: Be the example you want to see in this world. Our world needs you. Now more than ever. Be the sage!

As always,
Be Yourself, Be Positive, Be the Champion you want to see!

Dorice Horenstein is a speaker, author and Certified Positive Intelligence Coach.