What I’ve Learned About Dealing with Difficult People

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dealing with difficult people

If you want to be exposed to lots of different kinds of people, and gain a new awareness of just how broken human beings are, get a job in retail.

Seriously, y’all.

When I started my current day job two and a half years ago, I never expected that I would encounter such a wide range of people, predicaments, and personality types. As a retail sales associate, I’ve helped disabled people, angry people, grieving people, high-maintenance people, and the list goes on.

Sometimes, I’m awe-inspired, and simultaneously challenged. Like the day I helped an elderly couple (the man was blind, and his wife was both deaf AND blind). It took a long time and a lot of communication issues, but they still managed to buy a gift for their grandchild.

Other times, I just wish I could crawl under a rock and let somebody else deal with it. (Like when I get yelled at by an irate customer, or a married couple fights openly in front of me).

Of course, I do have plenty of fun customers: genuine people, joyful Christians, grateful people, and so forth. My all-time most memorable customer was a lady who had literally just received the all-clear from her doctor, that all her cancer was gone! Before she went home to tell her husband the good news, she wanted to buy herself something meaningful to celebrate the happy occasion. And it was my pleasure and honor to help her find the perfect item (a cross necklace).

If you ask me which kind of customers I prefer helping, you bet your booties I would choose happy people any day of the week. But, I don’t get to pick and choose; I help whoever walks in the door. And hopefully, I do a decent job of treating every person equally (though I always have room for improvement).

What I’ve Learned: How to Deal with Difficult People

Chances are, you too encounter at least a few difficult people in your line of work, in your own family or neighbors, or even in your church. And let’s just be honest, sometimes we are the ones who are difficult! One important point to remember, is that behind that exterior of anger/rudeness/negativity is always a human being who needs LOVE.

Luke 6:27-28

As Christians, we are called to love one another, even our enemies and/or those who mistreat us. Which is really HARD to do!!! I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I have learned a few key things that help when it comes to loving difficult people.

These are things we all need to do more of…

  • PRAY :: When dealing with a difficult person, asking God for help should always be the first thing we do! Pray for help getting through it, pray for the well-being of that person…and also, that we would not judge them. The other day, I was helping a family of five. The parents were arguing, the father was really demanding, and the poor kids looked like they were simultaneously suffering from the tension and on the verge of becoming just as bad as their parents. And there I was, judging them in my head! It finally hit me that I needed to pray for them, to give them grace, and not judge.
  • HUMBLE OURSELVES :: We should always, always, always remember we are not better than anyone else. I have often caught myself thinking of that person as lesser than me, as if I’m not also broken (just in different ways). Humility, humility, humility!
  • DOSE UP ON COMPASSION :: When our patience is tested, and we’re beyond annoyed with that rude person in front of us, it’s easy to disregard them…but what we really need is to pray to see them through Jesus’ eyes, with love and compassion. I’ve found that when I have compassion towards that person (their predicament, what may have caused them to be rude that day, or what has hardened their heart), it’s a lot easier to treat them with kindness.

Lou Holtz quote

So, when encountering those people that fray your nerves, tread on your toes, or otherwise cause you to want to be anything BUT kind… PRAY for them, and ask God to clothe you in humility and compassion. May we all give each other abundant grace in our brokenness. ❤️

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