Have you ever tried to get rid of smoke in your home? Like when you’re making pizza and some cheese falls on the bottom of the oven and before you know it, acrid smoke is pouring into your home. Ever tried to get rid of it?

It’s frustrating and pointless if you do it the wrong way. If you waft a cutting board, or put on a fan, even open a window…it sometimes has the wrong effect, and usually takes far longer to remove than you think. The funny thing is, if you become more intense in your efforts, if you waft stronger, or put the fan on higher, it doesn’t make it quicker…sometimes, it just makes it harder and worse. And of course, tiring for you!

Recently, I was struck by the realization that some people are like smoke. No…I don’t mean smelly, annoying and won’t leave. Rather, I mean that there are people who, if you treat them the wrong way, you have the opposite effect on them than you intended. Instead of one reaction, they react differently than you hope, and if you get more intense about it, their reaction can be harder.

Working with “smoke-like” people in your life takes great skill…something I’m not particularly good at really. These are people who need love expressed in a different way. They want love in a gentle, soft and collaborative manner rather than direct and forceful manner. In fact, they might view forceful and direct as coercive and negatively manipulative.

With this realization about “smoke-like” people, I started thinking about those who are good with smoke. There are people who know how to blow smoke rings, or create beauty with smoke (just google “smoke art” for some amazing work). There are others who know how to weave smoke into their lives and activities (e.g. Native American, Chinese and Boy Scouts practices of smoke signals). These are people who are masters of gentleness and collaboration. They are masters at working with smoke. In life, there are those who are masters at working with “smoke-like” people.

Here’s the point – we need “smoke-like” people in our lives. The gifts and beauty they bring create joy and beauty in our lives. Their gifts are rare and worth pursuing and enjoying. Their friendship is different than others and we are the better for it when we have it. But…the challenge with these sorts of people is that we can blow them away if we handle the friendship incorrectly. We can destroy them with the wrong approach.

And yet, when we get it right, there is great art in our relational lives – a beauty unmatched.

So how can we nurture relationships with “smoke-like”people?

I don’t know!

But the masters of smoke do the following:


  • they are gentle with smoke allowing it to flow around them
  • they don’t try to control or capture it
  • they understand how to look for smoke and read its signs
  • they value the time they have with smoke and learn all they can
  • they enjoy the beauty it creates


Here’s my best guess then at transferring this to nurturing a relationship with a “smoke-like” person:
  • Don’t force them to do things.
  • Work gently with them in a collaboration allowing them to flow around what you do.
  • Learn to read their signs of engagement and withdrawal and allow them to have those.
  • Value them in your life.
  • Enjoy the beauty of your relationship.


If you run a group of any kind (work, small group, book club, etc) then welcome “smoke-like” people into your group. Beware of forcing them into behaviors or conditions (like a covenant). Be gentle in engaging with them, and allow them space to withdraw if they want to do so. Value them and their contribution and enjoy the beauty of their perspective and contribution.


Dorian Botsis


  • Paul Pandolfino

    17.02.2016 at 08:27 Reply

    Excellent post! Helps bring awareness to the smoke like people in my life. Several come to mind. Then, I started to think, I am smoke like at times, my wife, my kids those closest to me. How do I react when I am smoke like? How am I responding now to others who are smoke like? The better self control I have with myself (one of the fruits of the spirit, Galatians 5:22-23) the better I become with others. With awareness, willingness and Gods help, bad habits can be broken. Praise his Holy name!!!

  • Dorian Botsis

    22.02.2016 at 13:29 Reply

    Thanks Paul for your feedback. I’m glad you liked the post. I love the thought of making it personal – how am I smoke like? That will take some thinking for me.

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