I hate to break it to you, but the bad news is if you are going to live around people you’re going to deal with difficult ones. There isn’t an organization, church, or family system that doesn’t have a difficult person in it. The good news is, dealing with difficult people is in your control, and there’s a surprisingly simple solution. The key is to change your attitude, not theirs!
When dealing with a challenging personality remember this: We all make sense to ourselves. You are the only person who completely understands you. Start with giving a lot of grace and try hard to understand the perspective of the “difficult” person you are facing. Maybe they are just communicating and seeing your topic of conversation through a different lens. Perhaps they aren’t being as challenging as you first thought.
Grace is the pivot point for being able to handle a puzzling personality well. It is frustrating to encounter someone with an ungenerous nature, biting words or selfish tendencies. We have to consider that maybe they aren’t communicating well for a reason. We all have stressors in our lives that push our buttons and cause us to react or speak in ways we normally wouldn’t. If we approach every interaction by assuming the other party has the best of intentions, it allows us to react in grace-filled ways and can often diffuse the situation.
And remember, sometimes you are the difficult person! You certainly want others to start with grace, and then try their best to understand your perspectives, pressure points and shortcomings, so this will help you remember to do the same for them.
In Galatians 5:22 –23, Paul points out the desirable virtues essential to our peaceable interactions with other people. Every one of these virtues – called the fruit of the spirit – should be part of the believer’s life. They come as a whole basket – they aren’t meant to be things we pick and choose. Only once we embrace these virtues in our lives, are we able to then extend them to others.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 Which virtue is the most challenging for you to exhibit in your personal life? What about in your interactions with your family or co-workers?
Think of an encounter you’ve had that has been challenging or unpleasant. How would changing your attitude to one of understanding and grace have made a difference in the outcome?
If you are a MOPS leader and need more resources on conflict resolution, complete the Managing Conflict course in the MOPS Leader Training & Certification