Managing Difficult People

We all have them. Have what? I’m talking about difficult people in our personal and professional lives. You know…the whiners, the complainers, the naggers, the ones who think they will fall over and die if they have nothing to crab about. Today I had a Monday that I am soooo glad is over. Within the first three hours of work, I’d been chewed up, spit out, stomped on, dumped on, and well, by lunch time I my eyes were glazing over. I’d received so much of O.P.J. (Other People’s Junk), that I was feeling like an overflowing dumpster.

With garbage up to my neck from a rather explosive and hateful individual who blames everyone else for everything bad that happens in life, the stinch associated with that junk was overpowering. I seriously needed a clothes pin for my nose. It stunk that bad! (I know…that’s a nice mental image, huh?)A few weeks ago, at the Leadership Bootcamp I attended in Missouri, we discussed how sheep are managed, while people are led. However, the events that occurred today have me thinking that there is merit in both. Sometimes people should be managed and led. At first, I felt extremely defensive when this individual detinated. I was really starting to look for a foxhole to dive into, but the explosion happened before I had time to dig one! I didn’t write this person’s life story.

I haven’t made the choices that led to the consequences. It was an explosion of blame, finger pointing, cursing, and many childish antics. Seriously, it was the equivalent of a two year old temper-tantrum in the candy isle, only from a much older individual who definately knows better. Yet, it continues to be an issue, because a few people enable this behavior out of pity.

The past life events of a person is not an excuse to behave poorly and mistreat others. How we act as adults is a choice. Unfortunately we see so many times how talk show hosts and authors design fancy names for all the “excuses” for behavior that stem from childhood, poverty, fatherlessness, and even wealth. We don’t need fancy names for any of these. One word describes them all. Sin. And it’s pretty much all inclusive. Either we are living in sin or someone else is living in sin and it just happens to affect us all. It all boils down to sin in the world. Sin affects all of us! See, there is no fancy or new way of making excuses for our behaviors necessary.

When we get down and go back to the basics, sin is the one word that describes many of the causes for what happens in our lives. As adults, it’s time for us to live in the present. We can do this by using our past as part of who we have grown to become, so long as we use it to glorify God. This is done by using our experiences as catalysts for learning, growing, sharing, and teaching to those around us. As adults we focus on the present-what do I want my life to be now? We need to stop looking in the rearview mirror-it’s an accident waiting to happen…crash!

When we manage a difficult individual, it refers to how much we let them dump on us. When it’s hurtful, malicious, or borderline abuse, it is up to us to manage how much dumping we will take at any given time. It is important to protect your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Why not just let someone treat you repeatedly as their punching bag or dumping ground? Because, when we do that we fail to discipline them out of love.

Truly loving someone is to hold them accountable for their actions and reactions to life. If we do not discipline and hold one another accountable in spriritual truths and biblical teachings, we are actually enabling an individual to continue the behavior. If we teach a person (or teach ourselves) to become accountable and work through and own our afflictions, we are showing the same kind of love that God shows us. This type of love leads people. Managing difficult people is a small step toward getting them ready to be led. We stop the unnecessary blame games, dumping, and instead lead them by teaching accountability, independence, and how to be disciplined out of love.

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