Dealing w/Difficult People
Seems like I’m talking about this more and more lately with people of my generation or younger. Maybe it’s b/c we played inside looking at a screen more than outside resolving conflict on the sandlot. Or maybe it’s b/c the boomer generation tended to sweep things under the rug, so we never saw conflict resolution handled well. Or maybe it’s b/c we’re the sitcom generation and everything supposed to work itself out in 30 minutes or less and if it doesn’t we’re not sure what to do. Or maybe it’s b/c we’re the “pretense” generation, obsessed with everyone liking our pages, our ideas, and our way of life and we have trouble when they don’t. Whatever the case, relationships can be difficult. It helps me to remember a couple of things:
- To someone I am a difficult person. Why? It may be that I’m misunderstood or I’m having a bad day or my personality rubs you the wrong way. But we tend to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, credit for our intensions, and many chances. Do we do that for others? Remember, the merciful will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7; James 2:13). I love this scene from the movie Fireproof which reminds us that our relationship with others tends to show us a pic of our relationship with God. The cross was necessary b/c we were enemies of and unable to relate to God. He had mercy, grace, and He made a way. So should we.
- Hurting People, Hurt People, and are more easily Hurt by People. When we’re hard to live with, it’s usually something deeper. We’re living out of our pain. (James 4:1-3). Don’t fight back at first instinct. Pray for the person, look for opportunities to address the why behind their issues. Don’t pile on the pain for you or them. And when someone irks you or hurts you, don’t point a finger automatically. Ask, “Is there something in me that’s making this appear worse in my eyes than it really is?”
Here’s a few of my favorite books that help us think through relationships, especially difficult ones:
- Fool-Proofing Your Life: How to Deal Effectively with the Impossible People in Your Life by Jan Silvious.
- Friends, Foes, and Fools by James Merrit.
- Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those that Aren’t by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
- Romans 12 is the one stop shop for relational help. Read it, apply it, enjoy life.