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How to Hug a Porcupine: Easy Ways to Love the Difficult People in Your Life

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How to Love the Difficult People in Your Life

Most of us know someone who, for whatever reason, always seems to cause problems, irritate others, or incite conflict. Often, these people are a part of our daily lives. The truth is that these trouble makers haven’t necessarily asked to be this way.

Sometimes we need to learn new approaches to deal with people who are harder to get along with or love.

How to Hug a Porcupine: Easy Ways to Love Difficult People in Your Life , explains that making peace with others isn’t as tough or terrible as we think it is–especially when you can use an adorable animal analogy and apply it to real-life problems.

How to Hug a Porcupine provides tips for calming the quills of parents, children, siblings, strangers, and other prickly people you may encounter. Among other tips, How to Hug a Porcupine includes:
*Three easy ways to end an argument
*How to spot the porcupine in others
*How to spot the porcupine in ourselves

With a foreword by noted psychotherapist Dr. Debbie Ellis, widow of Dr. Albert Ellis,   How to Hug a Porcupine is a truly special book.

160 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 24, 2009

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About the author

June Eding

27 books14 followers
June Eding lives in New York, New York.

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5 stars
120 (19%)
4 stars
155 (25%)
3 stars
204 (33%)
2 stars
102 (16%)
1 star
29 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 108 reviews
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,182 reviews40 followers
March 29, 2014
I work with a prickle of porcupines. I know, calling a group of porcupines a prickle is funny, but truly, that is what they are called to.

Some mornings maneuvering around this group is treacherous at best, so when I came across this book I thought it was a gift from above.

In easy to follow little snippets, the book spells out the background and ways to deal with the difficult and toxic people in your life. By no means is this a book that should be read in one sitting. The reader has to take each section, read it, digest it, possibly read it again and see how to apply it to the person or situation that they are currently dealing with.

I am a “confront the situation head-on” type of person, so the idea of sitting back and letting a porcupine run the show was way out of my comfort zone, but on a lovely spring morning I turned my office into a science lab. Little did my little porcupines know that they were now my guinea pigs.

When quills started fluffing up, I stepped back, let the porcupines bristle a bit, did not confront, did not interfere and just let them stomp and grumble – and you know what? It really threw them off; it took the wind out of their sails. Who knew that there was a way to do this without my feeling that I had to give up who I am solely to keep peace in the office.

I actually learned a great deal from this book. It may have gone against my grain, but learning how to deal with the difficult people in your life is so much easier when you see what is causing it and how to work around their stubborn need for control without losing too much of your own independence.
Profile Image for Camille Maio.
Author 10 books1,039 followers
July 7, 2019
What looks like an easy read it actually chock full of insights into how to love difficult people and how to avoid being one yourself. I think this is one I will refer to many times in the future.
Profile Image for Kerri.
1,027 reviews15 followers
August 7, 2019
I had no idea there were TWO Hug a Porcupine books; I went to the library for the one by John Lewis Lund but came away with this one instead as they were probably right next to each other and I did not even pay attention. But that's ok! Because this was a fun, quick read that I really enoyed.

I first heard about Lund's book when I was a very defensive porcupine and I was well aware of that fact. It took me a fair number of years to get around to actually reading it (or trying to, since again, I was originally looking for the one by Lund). I have come a long, Long way in that time.

This book was a cute, quick read that encourages you to return again and again. I read it in about 20 minutes. With the short, simple suggestions though, it is easy to go back, to think about specific items or approaches, and to tailor your approach to any "porcupines" in your life, INCLUDING yourself. I think it is very important to recognize that everyone has at least a little bit of defensive porcupine in them somewhere, it's just a matter of "hitting the right button". Though some people I know, that trait is very, very small, and more like a baby porcupine with soft squishy quills.

I really appreciate that this book is full of love, compassion, and optimism, and goes along with what it preaches with its approach. It is less of a lecture (you must do this! It's the only way to go!) and more of an open discussion of "these are good things to try! I'm rooting for you to find what works best in your situation!" As far as a book can be an open discussion.
Profile Image for Laura.
4 reviews
July 16, 2022
Someone who reviewed this book commented, “codependency central.” I have to say that I agree.

The suggestions seem to be good for dealing with someone who is normally easy to get along with but in a bad mood, going through a tough time, or prickly, not someone who is chronically negative, a narcissist, etc.

For example, if you are vulnerable with some people, as is suggested, they will twist your words, repeat them out of context behind your back, or use them to hurt you. Much of their damaging behavior is covert.

Fortunately, I have had few people like this in my life, but the realness and perpetuity of their cruel and passive-aggressive behavior is very real. I think the only way you can deal is to either get away from them or change the nature of your relationship.
Profile Image for Noell.
66 reviews2 followers
May 22, 2019
The trouble with ebooks is that you can’t flip through them quickly to see how they’re formatted. This is basically a self help coffee table or bathroom reading material for quick bursts of suggestions. It would be better as a page a day calendar or maybe a collection of Instagram posts. Book wise, it’s just a big collection of sound bytes, some meaningful/helpful, but not really my cup of tea when it comes to sitting down to read.
Profile Image for Ariza Zubia.
86 reviews49 followers
August 28, 2017
Minor grammatical/ spelling errors found. I disliked the overall format of how this How-to was conveyed. It should have been better organized. And also should have used more general pronouns like They and Theirs instead of simply Her, Him, His, Hers.
Profile Image for Natalie.
212 reviews20 followers
March 3, 2023
I had high hopes for this book, but in the end, they were probably too high. I think I would have liked it more if I came across it earlier in life. It has a lot of good suggestions for basic communication skills (don't be defensive, don't place blame, don't make assumptions, listen, etc) I've either picked up the hard way or learned years ago when I went to school to become a teacher. (It reminded me a lot of the "Teaching with Love and Logic" method of student/teacher discipline.) It is written pretty generally so it's more adaptable, but I would have liked more examples of how each principle might look in action. Really good intro level advice, but I think I'm ready for just a bit more depth.
Profile Image for Ana Martinez.
4 reviews1 follower
August 2, 2020
Lectura rápida para entender de forma práctica a las personas que viven algún proceso difícil y por eso sacan sus espinitas como protección. Hay que entender a esas personas y mostrarles que no hay amenaza!
Profile Image for Gretchen Pearson.
3 reviews1 follower
December 10, 2012
I gave this book a four star rating because it gives good suggestions in bite size chunks and in a fun format. The reason I deducted a star is because the tips became redundant.
Profile Image for Nadia.
19 reviews
April 25, 2021
We all have porcupine that we need to deal in life either porcupine in family, friends, relationship, or work.

Human have the capacity to create their attitudes and emotions as well as their actions.
If we choose to, we as human can maintain inner peace despite difficult outer circumstances. (Prevent unnecessary suffering).

This book shows us how to embrace the porcupine tendency, while still respecting the quills. We can learn how to accept ourselves as well as others by thinking rational, calm, act with consideration, be kind and having empathy.
Profile Image for Patience Kobusingye.
6 reviews7 followers
December 31, 2022
An easy read! I like these

“It should be clear by now that everyone has an inner porcupine that springs to life whenever we are challenged or criticized—especially when we are faced with a habit or behavior we are self-conscious about”

Excerpt From
How to Hug a Porcupine
Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis
This material may be protected by copyright.
39 reviews
November 21, 2022
Good quick read. Interesting analogy and good advice given in quick easy to digest bite-sized chunks. Very honest about the need to change ourselves and take a good look at our own selves and behaviors.
14 reviews
September 27, 2021
While there are good concepts in this book, it was difficult to take much away since there wasn't a thread connecting the points. There also wasn't much context given with the various principles which makes it difficult to know when to apply them.
Profile Image for Deborah-Ruth.
Author 1 book8 followers
October 14, 2017
We all have met porcupines - difficult people who spread their spikes everywhere, but we often are so quick to judge and become irritated at such individuals that we ultimately forget what causes them to be this way in the first place. There are three different types of porcupines that this book addresses: those who pull their quills inward and end up hurting themselves, are those who spike outwards and end up hurting others, and those use their spikes as a defence not to let anyone in. Looking at the natural tendencies of porcupines in the wild, Ellis explains how baby porcupines are actually born with soft bellies, but their quills develop over time in order to protect themselves. Porcupines actually do not "shoot" their quills, but they spike out to make sure predators do not come near. In the same way, difficult individuals have learned to become defensive due to the life environments they find themselves in. These people then go on to develop similar coping strategies like becoming argumentative or justifying themselves, however, even though these men and women can be so frustrating to live, work, or go to school with, the truth is that there is a little bit of a porcupine within each one of us...and Ellis teaches us not only how to begin to address those characteristics in ourselves, but also practical ways to deal with the porcupines we face. This book is absolutely wonderful. It is short and sweet, but full of such practical "how-to" wisdom. I honestly didn't think I would ever find a book that taught me so much about myself and the world around me in only about 100 pages, but Ellis has managed to do just that. I highly recommend it not only for the sage advice, but for the humour and illustrations attached to it!
Profile Image for Jordan Crump.
28 reviews4 followers
December 16, 2021
A guide to an unhealthy, codependent relationship. While many of the tips parallel the strategies of a trained professional working with “porcupine” patients who are aware of and working on themselves, most people with porcupines in their lives would benefit from material written by actual professionals in the field, and personal counseling sessions.
Profile Image for Kira Gresoski.
Author 3 books2 followers
May 29, 2022
A baby porcupine is called a porcupette (!!!)

That's the only valuable thing I gleaned from this book. The rest of the book is guide to projection and micro-managing other people's feelings and self-expression, all to feel like the superior person. I was thinking this book has "let me speak to a manager" vibes, and lo and behold, Eding has a whole chapter devoted to the very topic.
Profile Image for Fiffer_feffer_feff.
13 reviews1 follower
June 19, 2012
I want to buy copies for my kids! A great book that is to the point but written in a way that is easy to read.
Profile Image for Kat.
82 reviews
February 27, 2021
Everyone should have this little book in their library. Its adorable and powerful. I am defiantly going to reread this and reference this in the future
Profile Image for Cristian.
115 reviews
December 15, 2021
This is one of the few books that somehow ended up on my literal shelf. It was a good refresher on how to deal with the difficult people in your life.

Never get angry, defensive, or frustrated. Step back. Take deep breaths. Give yourself and the situation time to cool. Stay in control. Ask questions and use "I" statements. Don't take anything personal. Communicate needs and set boundaries.  (Not in that order or any order. This is just what I recall) Also, speak up! Whether it's a lover, friend, coworker, or stranger; you should be comfortable enough to speak your mind. You have every right to air your complaint or concern. Oh yeah, and always listen.

Although the passages were short, they were very insightful and I learned a new method or two when handing a porcupine. The first, is dealing with the porcupine's feelings AND THEN figuring out the problem. The second, was to never call it an "argument". Always use "disagreement". ".."Argument" has no promise and implies a never ending battle. "Disagreement" contains the possibility of a solution in its very definition: "agreement"".

Good book. And can be applicable to the reader as well.
Profile Image for Sierra Apaliski.
129 reviews
February 6, 2022
A cute read, although I felt it could have been written a bit more in-depth. There wasn't really a grand narrative, just the same several points made repeatedly. While important ones, more nuance was needed. I also would have appreciated if the authors used "they" in their examples. Instead there's this constant battle of them switching back and forth with she/him subjects right in the middle of their one paragraph examples. I suppose it was an attempt to equalize and not gender-stereotype but I just found that all the switching distracted from the points being made.
2 reviews
October 23, 2021
There are definitely some good points in this book, but it wasn’t as meaty as I expected. I didn’t realize how short and pithy this book was. The thing that was the most disappointing was the spelling and grammar mistakes within the text. Simple things such as using “are” for “or”, “an” for “and”, as well as “raionally” for “rationally”. Such simple mistakes that were jarring in trying to read through this book.
Profile Image for Dinda.
100 reviews5 followers
December 26, 2021
I need to deal with a porcupine, so i was excited to read this book. I was ready for a mind-blowing, eye-opening kind of philosophy.

But it turns out to be a very light book, and i finished it in an hour. Basicly this book is telling me to be patient, be emphatic, and be kind towards the porcupines. Well… that’s easy. Easier said than done, obviously 😝

Aaaanyways… i guess i need to read more books about porcupine.
Profile Image for Halle Hofman.
28 reviews
June 12, 2022
This book honestly was so simple but so cute and full of good reminders

I bookmarked a lot in this book for things to refer back to.

I like the relation of porcupines to people because porcupines "puff themselves up to try and scare off their adversary." Thats what we as humans do too.

There are so many interesting points in this book but the one that stuck out to me is that quills are not meant to hurt us but it is the result of ones past injuries.

Anyways super super good.
Profile Image for Mahira.
56 reviews37 followers
January 3, 2023
'It’s important to remember that human porcupines, like porcupettes, are born soft. But bad experiences, fears, and failed relationships have forced them to harden their exteriors and sharpen their quills.'

I love the porcupine analogy and I hate to admit but it makes me feel all giddy and soft on the inside like "Yesss, stick those quills in the mush that I am!"

Having loved quite a few porcupines, this toilet read has only intensified the need in me to dish out love to all the difficult people out there so yes I need help...
136 reviews1 follower
August 30, 2018
Read in a short time at the library.
Each page introduces a quick tip on how to deal with porcupines.
I learnt that porcupines' quills are soft initially, but harden over time and certainly under fear.

It is also important to trigger our own state.

I rated it a one star because I have already ready about many of the concepts and did not pickup much new from this book.
Profile Image for Carol Brannock.
14 reviews
October 27, 2018
How to Hug a Porcupine is non fiction, an informational text. The Foreword was written by Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis. There are several contributors and it is published by Hatherleigh Press, a company dedicated to natural preservation. They published the book in 2009 and it made quite a splash on the national book lists! The analogy between porcupines and human beings who present themselves as people who are difficult to love, or deal with is compelling and "wowed" me with the comparisons made between porcupines and "difficult people."

First, the book gives the reader a scientific lesson about porcupines and their behaviors which is incorrectly, by most of us, seen as one of aggressiveness because of the stories made about the porcupine's quills! In fact, a porcupine does not "throw" quills at anything, but does have the ability to raise them when being attacked by something, or someone else. This in itself is a human lesson. We learn to stand up to "bullies" for example; and, we know that the bully backs down most of the time. This is what a porcupine does; it stands up to bullies, or threats to its' life. So, then the reader learns ways to cope with "porcupines" who may present as a danger, but in reality is seeking love and attention.

As teachers, we love young people. I would hate to think that would not be true of any teacher, but once in awhile there is "that" student who makes it difficult for us by pointing their quills to keep us away. I had a student I remember well who was a "porcupine." He came in late; he wanted to sleep; didn't do his homework, etc.! I gave him space for a few days, then I began to be offended because teachers want attention! So, I began addressing his behaviors that I saw as "quills", but as I learned in the book, porcupines have a very soft spot on their underside and it makes them very defensive, shall we say. After a few conversations with my student, I found the "soft spot". He loved his family, especially his siblings whom he helped take care of at home. I called in help from our counselor. He wouldn't talk to her. One day at lunch, he came up to me and told me he was "sorry" he wasn't doing better that he really was smart and wanted me to know. I asked why he wasn't doing his work. Then he told me that his mother, his three young sisters, and he were living in a one room extended stay hotel. And, that his mother worked at night while he helped his younger sisters with their work, fed them, and put them in bed! He was just exhausted at thirteen years old being a parent. I told him the counselor and I would help him and his family. And, we did. This story is to illustrate how well this book made me realize that persons don't want to be unloved, maybe they are just too tired to accept it.

Like my example, there are many in the book. I would like to share this quotation which sums up the basic lessons of acceptance: "Life is brief. Time is precious. Wasting it in defense and attack, or in anger and fear, is regretful and meaningless. Choose to practice patience, empathy, compassion, kindness, understanding, and unconditional acceptance." Don't we all need to do this today, especially? I think this book could provide many lessons for students in middle grades because they either know "porcupines" or are them. I would not assign the whole book, but instead I would use quotations from the book; I would teach powerful analogies; poetry. It would also be an excellent text to use some of the information in science class and maybe collaborate with the ELA teacher on some project that would include technology! I see so many possibilities. It definitely would be a book I would use over and over. To me, this is what a "wow" book is for; to go to it again and again for lessons we all need.

This would be a great TPACK strategy book to use among team teachers in curriculum. I would assign the study of other animals that "could be used" as analogies for humans! This would require research and be great opportunity for students to make videos using iMovie or YouTube so their efforts could be shared. There are also some great passages that could be used as Read Aloud to develop vocabulary in context for various assignments. I would recommend this book for eleventh and twelfth graders, but as I said I would choose excerpts for study.
Profile Image for Inaara.
110 reviews
April 6, 2021
I am the porcupine, goo goo g'joob
took an embarrassing amount of time to read this little book, but im glad i did! as a self-identified porcupine, the sections on porcupine children and porcupine selves resonated with me the most.
have to add that the feel of the hardcover on this book is very pleasant to me!
Profile Image for Jacob O'connor.
1,393 reviews16 followers
May 11, 2021
I'm often forget and then often reminded that a kind word turneth away wrath.  My impulse is to teach someone a lesson, put someone in their place,  let someone know who's boss, etc.  In truth, it's almost never worth the satisfaction, and more.  I'm amazed at how often people turn around when confronted with kindness.  Porcupine has some good principles toward that end. 
Displaying 1 - 30 of 108 reviews

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