How To Be Less Prickly: Part 3

(Part 3 of a 3 part series on Being Prickly)

Rose_thorns2_CCingridtaylarHopefully you've started at the beginning of this series with

Part 1 ~ How Prickly Are You? and Part 2 ~ Why People Are Prickly.

We can all be prickly sometimes, which doesn't mean we aren't good people, but it may mean that our thorns are getting in the way of others seeing that.

But acknowledging our prickliness still leaves us with two choices. We can either justify our approach - blaming it on genetics, life, others or apathy - and do nothing, or we can take responsibility for our actions and work to change people's experience of us.

If you are open to the latter and want to become a less prickly, more pleasant person to be around, then here are some attitudes and actions you can use.

5 Attitudes for Less Prickliness
Being less prickly starts with having the right mindset going in. Consider these 5 steps to a nicer-to-be-around you. (Note: If you are reading this you probably already have #s 1 and 2):

  1. Appreciate that your presence effects others for better or worse.
  2. Understand that effect. (As in how do your prickly issues effect others' prickly boundary and attachment issues?)
  3. CARE about that effect.
  4. Consciously work to bring more better and less worse energy into interactions. (See below)
  5. Have good boundaries in terms of your responsibility to be a reasonably decent person and others' responsibilities to manage and minimize their own thorny reactions.
Actions For Being Less Prickly
There are 3 facets to becoming less prickly. Your physical or virtual presence, your mindset and your emotional intentions. Consider which area(s) you think you could work on and focus on the suggestions that you think can help you.


Smily_face_mask1. Physical/Virtual Presence: Look less prickly to begin with!

Smile more; look in the mirror and work on appearing less prickly; be less harsh/more soft in the words you choose (or when writing - add a cushion to the beginning and end); choose a positive tone of voice (practice this - it really makes a difference); slow down as in pause and breathe more so that you can remain calmer and not appear as reactive; work on your timing; respect others' boundaries; ask permission to give advice; give less advice; give more encouraging and optimistic words (this can be done even when challenging something); talk less; REALLY try to listen to others and make your body language show it.
2. Positive Mindset: This is very powerful!
Challenge your thoughts and assumptions (meaning don't assume your thoughts are accurate or that every person is out to get you); remember that you are talking to a whole person who, like you, is just trying to make it through this world too; challenge your pessimistic thinking often!; don't take things so personally; be less attached to your way of seeing/doing things; put your stresses into perspective; own your baggage instead of pawning it off on others; become more comfortable with others' and your mistakes and imperfections; learn better skills for dealing with anxiety, anger, stress, resentment, and conflict (they have really good classes for this! I happen to know a decent teacher too),
work on your sense of humor.
3. Emotional intentions: Remember your heart.
Ultimately to change your aura, you need to have a chat with your heart and set your intentions. Do you want to be a person who treats people well? Not just when you decide they deserve it or because you want something or because you aren't stressed but because it is who you want to be? Then you must own and remove as many thorns as possible.
Work on whatever baggage is getting in your way. Take responsibility for your actions and attitudes. Challenge a righteous mindset and find better ways of dealing with resentfulness that is likely helping you justify your actions. Get past a cocky mindset which is all about ego, power or revenge and is a defense against being emotionally present. Don't use other people's prickles as a justification for using yours. Be trustworthy with others' attachment while not dismissing your own reasonable needs.
The key is to practice empathy for both the other person and for yourself and what is going on that is making connection challenging. Then work toward positive rather than prickly solutions to these moments. For deeper change, you will likely need to invest and do some self exploration - read articles and books (I recommend The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Mindset by Carol Dweck), journal, practice mindfulness stress-reduction (it really works!),
go to communication skills workshops, invest in therapy to heal and grow from your past.
Best way to become less prickly? Pick one change and get started. Then don't stop. Good luck.
And when you get a minute -
~ ~ ~

Annie Zirkel, LPC is a Relationship Consultant based in Ann Arbor, Mi and consciously works every day to minimize her prickliness. You can contact her at Photo from / CC BY 2.0A