Dealing with a Difficult Person

[This week I am featuring an article written by my friend Scott Couchenour. Scott founded Serving Strong and provides executive coaching. He has a great program; be sure and check it out. He has served in ministry leadership as youth and music pastor. Scott has also worked in the corporate environment as Chief Operations Officer and Chief Executive Officer. I believe you will enjoy his article below.]

Difficult people are characterized by

  • A narcissistic need to control
  • A grouchy approach to most days
  • A sense of happiness when demeaning others
  • An unpredictability as to which self is going to show up

I'm certain you have one or more people in your life who are a variation of this description. You see them most days. You wish you didn't have to. I understand. Here are a few thoughts on the subject for your consideration:

  • You have options. You may feel as though you're trapped into dealing with the person with no relief. But you still own your ability to choose. No one can take that away. You can choose to let the person's demeanor roll off you.
  • Difficult people are hurting people. Remember this and you will see them in a totally different light. The reason most difficult people lash out at others is because of a deep seated insecurity. They may have been hurt as a child and no one ever worked with them to overcome that hurt.
  • Try "bridging" them when they become difficult. Imagine they are sinking in quick sand. The worst thing is for you to jump in to try and help them out. Instead, stay on the bridge and take their hand and walk them up out of the mire. For example, after they go on a rampage, acknowledge their anger by simply saying, "You must be really upset about that." Then open up options for them by asking, "What are your going to do to make things better?" Bridging is being a helpful ear while keeping the responsibility for change on the other person.
  • Remember your worth. DIfficult people leave a wake of despair behind them. If you're not careful, you may feel bad about your life just because you were in their presence. But your worth is not tied to their behavior. Your worth is from Christ Himself.


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