A Plan for Dealing with Difficult People

by GfG on November 19, 2012 · 7 comments

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Sometimes we need a plan to make it through holidays with our sanity in check, our tongues firmly tied, and relationships intact.

Here are some tried and true tricks to that end.

Know the weak spots.  We all have buttons and hate having them pushed, but we also each have specific launch sequence buttons. It’s important to know these and admit they are our weak issues.  Bow out of conversations or moments that are big red buttons.

Consider it a prayer opportunity.  Instead of walking into a situation on the defense, consider praying for each person before you get there and while you are there.  Listen to their comments as a hint as to what they could use prayer for.

Bring a buffer.  Paul has helped me many times in this way.  If you do not have a spouse, think about who could be your buffer.  A niece/nephew? A friend? A sibling in law?  I’ve found that some people are more than willing to say hurtful things when alone with us, but much less often if there is a buffer.

Have an escape plan.  Everyone needs a break from people they are not used to being around for extended periods and even more so if there are tense relationships.  Plan ahead for breaks.  Look at the schedule and plan the breaks for when you will really need them, not when other people think breaks would be OK.  Take a walk, take a nap, take a zoo trip. Starbucks run.  Whatever.

~photo credit~

Reach out with genuine concern.  Most of us can spot fake interactions a mile away.  If we have a difficult relationship with someone, they probably know it too.  Instead of allowing the distance to define the relationship, really look to build a bridge.  There is a reason it’s a saying.  We can ask the person about things that truly interest them and  make sure they see the interest on our faces.

See relationships through Christ’s eyes.  I know this sounds lofty, but it really is true.  God has placed these people in our lives for a reason.  It would be worth our time to see what He might want for us there.  Once we see the hurting in our rude family members, once we see the search for acceptance in our critical family members, and once we see the need for love in our obnoxious family members, we see what God sees.  I”m not saying it’s easy to be around them, but it takes the focus off of us and puts it where it belongs: on Christ.

Grace for others and for ourselves are woven into each of these tips.

We can make the most of our holiday interactions with difficult family members or others if we plan ahead.   It is best for everyone if we do.  Seriously.

Do you need to plan so you can bless instead of fuss? 



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