This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership.

In my work with clients, we always come across personal saboteurs: the way in which we self-sabotage and get in our own way. Inner critic. Gremlin. Limiting beliefs. All the same names for the same thing Saboteurs.
The good people at PQ have created a really cool profile system, with a nifty 3 min assessment

Primarily when I work with a client, the work is “how do I deal with my own saboteurs?”. I’m coaching the person in front of me, not their “annoying” partner or colleague they have a conflict with. So the conversation never goes to what the other person must do, but what does the client wants and needs to do.

But…. what about when someone we know is showing up with their saboteurs all the time?
And what if that’s an Avoider – so you can’t even sort things out because they well, keep avoiding?

What if we have someone in our lives that has a tendency to avoid… everything? (can you sense my personal frustration? Is it that obvious? Of course, it is)

So what do you do?

While their stuff isn’t about you, it’s about them, you have a relationship so of course, it affects you.
But what do you want to do? You want them to stop or change what they are doing….. but how can you do that?

Do you want to let your own saboteurs respond to theirs? Or do you want to remain true to yourself, and decide what to do from there? Only one of these approaches works: remain true to yourself and then take action.

Here’s the simple 3 point tip for dealing with an avoider:

  1. Kindness
  2. Kindness
  3. Kindness

Step 1: Kindness – to yourself

Boy, it sucks when someone doesn’t seem to value you anymore. It hurts.
But we are so quick to explain other people’s behaviour with a failing of our own. We blame ourselves, or we blame them. Either way, we paint an unflattering picture for both of us – the other is uncaring, and we are not worth caring for.
Now that’s terrible.
When we can show kindness to ourselves, we can actually get to this belief: it’s about them, not about me.

But what does being kind to yourself look like in this example?
While it could be pampering, me time, etc. I have a really practical suggestion: stick to the facts

Separate the facts from how you feel about them.
The avoider doesn’t respond to messages, most of the time- fact
I’m annoyed and hurt – fact and emotion
I feel that they don’t care – Interpretation that I have given these facts, which is not helping me, but just makes me feel more crap about myself and them.

You can just cross out the interpretation.
Be kind to yourself, stick to the facts.

Step 2: Kindness – to them

This has two parts
First, empathy.
We all know what it’s like to be beaten up by our saboteurs and inner critics. It’s rough. We are always our own worst critic. Think of the last time your saboteurs hijacked you and you were a jerk to someone. What was going on internally for you? See? You understand what this feels like for them. You can see the human you know now, not just the mask of the avoider.

Second assume that people are decent most of the time.
While it sucks when someone seems to be ghosting you or avoiding an important discussion, when we remember that people are decent most of the time, then we can see them as human.

When we connect with people, human to human, rather than saboteur to saboteur, then we actually have a fighting chance to get the outcome that we want – that they stop avoiding.

Step 3: Kindness to the situation

This does not mean that you have to accept this behaviour from others, swallow the hurt, and put up with it. Definitely not.
But if you go into battle mode against the enemy, there will be death and destruction.
Kindness to the situation means that you assume the best of each other. You assume that this can be resolved in some. You assume that it is possible to move forward from this situation.

And all of that will allow you to approach the problem with a “we can solve this” mindset rather than a “I need to tell you all the things you’ve done wrong” mindset.

What are your thoughts?
How do you deal with it when other people’s inner critics are impacting you?