10 Ways to Deal With Difficult People
We have all encountered difficult people.
I have several in my life...like right now.
If I'm honest, I'm certain that for someone in my life, I am that person.
Whether they are constantly negative, inconsiderate, unreliable, or brashly insensitive, it can be frustrating to handle those who require “extra care.” Even in the Bible, we see Moses having to deal with Aaron’s bad choices (Exodus 32) and Jesus resolving issues with the Pharisees (Matthew 23). Whatever the case may be, we cannot always avoid interpersonal conflict. Yet, how we react in the midst of irritation will without a doubt draw people towards Christ or turn them away. As His ambassadors, it is our job to be mindful of our interactions with those we deem difficult and ask the Lord for wisdom on how to move forward. According to Joseph Hellerman’s book, When The Church Was Family, proper conflict resolution amongst those in the body of Christ makes us a stronger witness for the gospel we proclaim. If Christians cannot settle disputes under composure, how could we expect others to look to us as an example of God’s light?
For this reason, we must explore ways that we can deal with difficult people wisely and in a way that honors God. Here are a few ways that I have discovered can make a major difference in your interactions.
1.) Lead with Love
When dealing with a person who causes us distress, we must make a choice to lead with love. Allowing Godly love to take the lead places us in a position to hear from God on how to handle the interaction. God’s love is unconditional and places the other person’s need above your own. As seen in 1 Corinthians 13, true biblical love is
Does not boast
Is not easily angered
Keeps no record of wrong
Rejoices in truth
Protects, trusts, and always perseveres.
With these elements as our guide, we place ourselves in a great position to have interactions that can honor the Lord.
2.) Be Kind on Purpose
One way to handle the office bully or “negative Nancy” in your life is to be intentional about your relationship. Think of ways to bless the person unexpectedly. Offer to buy them lunch or leave an anonymous note to remind them that someone cares about them. In most cases, the reason a person is unkind has little to do with you. Making a choice to break the tension shows them that they can let their guard down with you. Even more so, this gives you a chance to display the love of Christ through your actions.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:35
3.) Be the Hope In the Room
As Christians, we should be the light in the room. When we walk into areas, people should feel our joy and genuine care for them. In other words, we should be a breath of fresh air for those we encounter. After all, we are called to be the light of the world! By allowing our speech to be seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6), free from bickering and gossip, we can counteract the negativity in the room. Even when others are sharing their frustration about the “difficult” person, we can insert the other side and seek to eliminate the destructive chatter. As we infuse our faith with our actions, we will see that people will start to mimic the love and happiness we share. Just like bad company corrupts character (1 Corinthians 15:33), purposeful positivity is contagious.
4.) Ask the Lord to Help You See Them the Way He Does.
Have you ever asked the Lord for new eyes? Years ago, I worked with a very controlling person. After spending time with her, I learned that she had been abandoned by her father, was the youngest sibling, and experienced lots of disappointment. With this new information, I was able to see that her life was full of situations that she could not control and that she had little voice in. Thus, the Lord revealed to me that her behavior was a result of feeling powerless over the many years. Moving forward with our interactions, I learned that it was important to allow her to have buy-in and to listen to her heart before reacting to her. To this day, we have developed a great friendship. It was through prayer, that God gave me empathy and understanding.
5.) Pray for Them
The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies. As simple as it sounds, it can be hard for us to intercede on behalf of those who have treated us poorly. Our prayers for others should not be “make them learn their lesson” or “fix them Lord.” In many ways, this is a self-centered prayer as we are addressing the way their actions affect us. Instead, we can pray that God reveal himself to them or that they come to know God’s love for them. I have found that by praying for those I dislike that God changes my heart towards them. Additionally, praying for them helped me to release the bitterness that I had associated with them.
6.) Confront the Issue
There will be times that require you to stand up for yourself. We see that Jesus was not one to cower. He spoke boldly for what He stood for, even in the midst of persecution. The key to success for Jesus was that His goal was not to just be blunt about matters. He chose to speak in grace and in truth. Though people may have found offense in His words, His speech only reflected the heart of God. In the same manner, we must reach a point where we can share our grievance in a way that is honoring. This will take prayer for wisdom on how to relay your heart. Though we cannot control how they will respond to our complaint, we can control our response. When facing a tough situation, review what the Bible says about handling a disagreement and move forward in a way that doesn’t compromise your testimony (Mathew 18:15-17).
7.) Make an Effort to Move Forward
At a certain point, you have to choose to move forward. A person who wronged you last year, should not still be getting punished for their actions. Though some offenses cause a required change in the relationship, this does not mean we have permission to treat people poorly. Remember, Godly love keeps no record of wrongdoings. We should seek intentional ways to mend the bridges that once divided us and salvage relationships. After all, we all grow and mature over time. How a person dealt with you five years ago is not necessarily how they will deal with you now.
8.) Listen Before You Speak
We all have two ears and one mouth. Yet, for some reason we talk much more than we listen. James 1:19 reminds us to be slow to speak and quick to hear. Right after this, it tells us to be slow to anger. It is clear that the amount we listen may impact how fast we are frustrated. In most cases, when we practice active listening, we can truly understand the other person’s side. Active listening includes the following aspects.
Restating and summarizing
9.) Do not volunteer for abuse
When in doubt, choose to be peaceful and cordial, even when it is difficult. There are some people who truly represent the phrase, “misery loves company.” Due to this, they make every effort to belittle you, harm you, and not value your presence. In these scenarios, we are not obligated to stay in relationships where our mental, emotional and physical health are in jeopardy. We teach others how we desire to be respected. Make an effort to tell the other person how their actions are affecting you. If this does not solicit immediate change, you can forgive them and place space between you and the person. We must learn to love some people from a distance.
10.) Reserve the Right to Disengage
After we have tried to resolve our issues biblically, there does come a point where we have to be willing to stop engaging the matter and/or person. Making the choice to end a conversation or relationship should not be taken lightly or used as a way to control and manipulate the situation. Instead, there are some conversations that must be ended with a simple, “Thank you for sharing that with me, let me pray about it more and get back with you.” In the same manner, there are some relationships that require time and less communication to heal. It is important that we choose to disengage before we say words, we will later regret. Reserve to disengage recognizing moments when you need to pause, take a deep breath, come back to a conversation, or end a toxic relationship.
My prayer for you today is that you can rise above and find peace, even in the toughest relationships. God desires us to have a victorious, thriving, and peaceful connection with those around us. Overall, when you are intentional about allowing God to be glorified through your interactions, you will find that the most trying relationships can result in deep connections.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
For more on living a life of everyday victory, I invite you to purchase the Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Amazon today by clicking here.
*Portions of the above blog have been previously published by Victoria Riollano on Ibelieve.com*