Last week I spoke to a group of employees at a manufacturing company. The topic was “Dealing With Really B~A~D* People”. No one is immune to these “challenging” individuals. They appear in our place of employment, our communities, our churches and most unfortunately our families. I’m no exception.

The group was mid-sized, about fifty or so in attendance. As I glanced around the room, I noticed a familiar face: the next door neighbor and close friend of my “B~A~D” family member. Oh, sugar-plum -fairies! Now what? I always reference my own personal experiences when lecturing. While respecting the identity of the parties I am referring to, I share intimate details of my life and the challenges, mistakes, injustices and triumphs I’ve encountered. I do so as a way of authenticating the lessons I am teaching. Speaking from my heart allows my audience to better relate to what I’m saying and find validity in it. It also gives them the opportunity to witness first hand how to apply my techniques to their particular situations.

Regardless of how some family members have treated me, I know they are very private people and would not want their personal agendas revealed in public. I thought about abandoning the idea transparency before this group and speaking strictly from my head. But it would be unfair to those present to omit any aspect of my program simply to protect the identity of the offenders. I made the decision to give my all. There would be, however, a fine line which I must take great care not to cross.

I began the lecture, making very broad references to my family experiences. Disguising the offending parties as different members and genders permitted me to speak candidly without revealing any identifying characteristics. And then the mother of all surprises happened: the neighbor/friend raised his hand. He shared a current family situation that hit really close to home. Wow, this is awkward, I thought. I could have responded “I know exactly what you mean. I’m going through the same thing in my own family.” But I didn’t. Instead, I maintained my integrity and presented a generic response. “I’m so sorry you’re in this situation,” I responded. “Whether it’s someone spreading rumors about us, speaking in a mean or hurtful way, ignoring us or showing favoritism, it’s important to address your concerns with the other party in an attempt to rectify the situation. Here are some steps I used with my family member.” I proceeded to provide a few tips on boundaries, communication and conflict resolution. I was comfortable with the way I navigated my way through a very precarious moment, confident I protected the true identity of my offender.

When I returned home that evening, my sister called me for an unrelated matter. I shared with her my delicate experience. “I don’t know why you bothered to protect _____. They already told the neighbor years ago they can’t stand you.” Really, I thought? I had taken great care to shield the other when clearly their behavior was not reciprocal. “Doesn’t matter”, I told my sister. “I need to live my beliefs and be true to myself. I’m not a hateful person and refuse under any circumstances to behave as such.”

If I don’t admire certain traits in another, why would I ever emulate them? Don’t I become exactly what I don’t like? Be authentic. Live your values, regardless. Never allow another’s bad behavior determine who you become.


Author's Bio: 

Janet Pfeiffer, internationally known speaker and award-winning author, is one of todays most highly sought after seminar leaders.

As a leading authority in the field of anger management and conflict resolution, Janet serves as a consultant to such companies as the U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, AT&T, Hoffman-LaRoche, Rutgers University, Carnival Cruise Lines, United Way, YWCA, New Jersey Education Association, Care-One, Insurance Restoration Specialists, Learning Annex, William Paterson University, Catholic Community Services, Passaic County Community College, American Business Academy, Bergen County Police and Fire Academy, Cook’s College, Kean University, Rotary, Ocean County College, Kiwanis and more.

Janet received her N.J. State Certification in Domestic Violence and is a consultant and instructor at a battered women’s shelter.

Janet has spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University (for the NACSDC National Conference), has served as committee member and keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a member of the National Police Suicide Foundation and past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.

She is a former columnist for the Daily Record and hosted her own cable TV and radio shows. Janet has also been a contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo Magazine, Prime Woman Magazine and N.J. Family. She has recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Fusion, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.

As an inspirational speaker and private consultant, Janet is a frequent guest on radio and TV and has appeared on CNN, ABC News, The 700 Club, Lifetime, NBC News, Fox, CBS News, The Harvest Show, TruTV, Celebration and more than 100 top radio stations. She appears as a regular guest on WGUN Radio (Relationship Thursdays with DJ Kay and Janet Pfeiffer) and is a regular contributor on Ebru Today. She is also the host of her own radio show, Anger 9-1-1, on

Janet runs “The Antidote to Anger Group” for court ordered offenders and those with issues of anger. Additionally, she is a member of EAPA, NJAWBO, ISBOG, MVP Seminars Speaker’s Bureau and Visions in Motion Speaker’s Bureau.

Janet's books include: The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times best selling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel), 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, Vol.3 (co -authored with Mark Victor Hanson of Chicken Soup For the Soul), The Seedling’s Journey, The Angel and The Gift, The Orchids of Gateway Lane , Jordan's Promise and Dying To Be Safe: Ultimate Solutions to Violence.

She has been nominated for many prestigious awards including the Russ Berrie "Make a Difference Award", 2010 NJ Governor’s Jefferson Award, and has been presented with SOS "Positive Life Force" and "AOH" awards.

She has achieved recognition as an award winning author, photographer, and race walker. (1994/1995 NJ Gold Medalist; 1994/1995 National Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist in marathon competition), and is also listed in the "Who's Who in Authors".

In 2001, she founded "Reunion of Hearts", Reconciling and Reconnecting Estranged Families", the nation's first non-profit support group of its kind dedicated to the emotional healing and reuniting of estranged family members.

Janet is a graduate of Englewood Cliffs College (now part of St. Peter’s).