Getting down to business: How to deal with difficult people - Part II
Last week we said, many of us would do anything to escape dealing with difficult people because they have a tendency to make our lives miserable and we try to avoid them as much as humanly possible. But, God places them in our lives for three possible reasons:
- To open our eyes to a fault in our own lives;
- To reveal our true character by putting us into pressuring situations;
- To change our character and make us more like the persons He wants us to be.
God wants us to change, so instead of worrying about the difficult people in our lives, we need to learn how to deal with them. And today, we will learn five practical ways to deal with these difficult people. They are:
1. Control our tongue
Our first tendency when dealing with difficult people is to respond with sharp or hurtful words. James 3:5 (NIV) says,“So also the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” If we want to learn how to control our tongue, the Bible tells us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.” James1:19 (NIV). So let’s always listen first and then be slow to speak and we will be slower to say something hurtful that we will regret.
2. Respond with kindness
When we respond with a kind word or a smile instead of harsh words, we defuse the situation, and instead of a cycle of confrontations and quarrels, there can be reconciliation and healing. Proverbs 15:1(The Message) says, “A gentle response defuses anger. But a sharp tongue kindles a temper fire.” So let the power of a kind, an encouraging word or even a timely smile disarm a person who is being difficult or aggressive.
3. Avoid a destructive argument
There are some persons who want nothing more than to get into arguments, but look what the Bible says in Proverbs 14:14 (NLT), “Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate. So drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” Don’t be drawn into the trap, avoid a destructive argument. Sometimes it’s hard not to fall into the trap because it’s a family member or someone we care about; but, we can wait until our emotions are calm and we are able to control our tongue and respond with kindness.
4. Resolve conflict quickly
Conflict is inevitable when we deal with difficult people, so whenever possible it is important to resolve the conflict quickly. Don’t ignore the conflict or even postpone it, fix it. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 5 (The Message). “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters.
“If you enter your place of worship and are about to make an offering and you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right.
“Then and only then come back and work things out with God.” If we are not right in our relationships with other people, something is not going to be right with our relationship with God.
5. Decide to love unconditionally
God wants us to decide to love people unconditionally, faults and all. This is challenging for most of us to do because there are things in others that we want to change. Let’s not see people as projects hoping to change them. God wants us to love them just as Jesus loves us, unconditionally. Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-47 (The Message,) “I’m challenging you. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer …If all you do is love the loveable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.”
To do this challenge, we need to be able to see people the way God sees them. God loves them unconditionally and He wants to teach us to love them the same way. Today as we deal with difficult people, let’s put into practice these five steps we’ve discussed – control our tongue, respond with kindness, avoid destructive arguments, resolve the conflict quickly and decide.