Have you ever had to deal with a difficult person in your life?
If you’re a negative, combative, and crabby person, chances are you won’t like being around yourself and others won’t either. Instead, earn a reputation of fairness. If you’re honest, firm, reliable, consistent, have emotional control, have courage, are loving, likable, forgiving, principled, strong, non-judgmental, and a ‘good-finder’ in people, then we would know for sure that the problem wasn’t you.
However, even exhibiting all of these qualities won’t always help, even if you’re an angel. You are still going to run into “those” people. You could be in the best possible mood, your heart could be filled with charity for your fellow man, and then you run into “that” person.
Opposition is natural and healthy. If you’re going to amount to anything in life, there will be people out there who will oppose you. The higher your ideals, the larger your aspirations, and the more you want to accomplish, the more you will be opposed. The only way you can avoid opposition is to stand for nothing, to do nothing, to attempt nothing, and to be nothing. That’s just about as safe as it gets, but it’s also the most risky because it risks the wasting of the very life that carries it.
Second: Have discernment.
Here’s why: because everyone is difficult at times. Even occasionally you are more susceptible to it than at other times. Everybody has their bad moments and even you have times when the rock in your shoe will irritate you more than normal. It’s when these two overlap that we have the most trouble.
Third: Identify specific misbehavior types.
When addressing or dealing with difficult people, you may be at the mercy of some seriously intelligent manipulation. They’re going to confuse you and get you all turned around and inside out and will make it difficult for you to have a clear picture of the issues. Which is why it’s very important and helpful to have their specific misbehavior precisely identified so you can be very clear on what’s not right and what needs to be fixed, because conflict can get confusing.
Here are the top 10 specific misbehavior types:
- Dishonesty/poor character/liar
- Combativeness and objectionable behavior (overall difficult to get along with)
- Passive-aggressive triangulation with political gossip
- Prideful and selfish
- Hurtful, mean, and callous
- Bully/terrorist type behavior (silent treatment, always starting arguments, sabotage)
- Addictions, out of control, unreliable
- Unpredictable and bi-polar
It’s important to know which 3 of these you’ll most likely exhibit from time to time because it will help you understand how to deal with and identify these behaviors in others.
So, here’s how to actually deal with difficult people:
- Don’t escalate issues.
- Don’t drop to their level - remain emotionally in control.
- Address problems head-on while they’re still small.
- Extend grace and don’t assign motives.
- Don’t give them a piece of your mind. Instead, give them a portion of your heart.
- Understand the different personality types.
- Remember this: LSMFT- Low Self-esteem Means Friction and Trouble.
- Apologize where you can and where you should.
- Never address controversy, hurt feelings, relationship problems, or challenges of any kind over voicemail, e mail, or text.
- Attack the behavior, not the person.
Remember, reconciliation is the goal. Let them know you want to help, implement a fix, reach an agreement, check progress, and love them through the process. Figure out if you can help and then serve them. Sincerity mends a lot of fences.
All you really need are two things when dealing with difficult people: courage and love. We all tend one way or the other and it’s good to know which one you tend to. Do you tend to just love and forgive? Or do you tend to be courageous and stand to confront? Both are wonderful. However, if you tend more with one, you are really going to have to manufacture and work on the other; because you’re going to need both.
Lastly, if you have a choice in the matter, don’t entangle yourself with someone through a commitment if some type of obvious, consistent, systemic, bad behavior is on display. It’s one thing to serve them; it’s another to hook your wagon to theirs. In some instances, the best way to deal with difficult people is to put distance between them and you. There is a time when you break fellowship because you’ve done all you can do. Sometimes you need to be wise enough to see them coming, and then don’t allow them into your life.
To sort-of summarize:
- Don’t be a difficult person yourself! (If everybody did this one then this article would be unnecessary)
- Address the difficult situations head-on if you can.
- Ignore the crazy ones . . . and then serve.
You can also pick up the book, Dealing with Difficult People, from the Life Essentials Series, which will expand more on this topic.