Dealing with Difficult People, Part One

This week, Dan begins a series on the subject of dealing with difficult people. He first outlines four major categories of difficult people in our lives. He then reviews contexts in which we will need to deal with such people and suggests that we should reach for a better goal than simply boiling over in confrontation or escaping a difficult person altogether.

Dan begins with the point that all of us have to deal with difficult people, even ourselves. Therefore, inevitably, we need to develop the skills and theology to deal with others who are perplexing or worse.

As we deal with difficult people, our own frustrations are exposed. This takes wisdom, so we’ll be looking particularly at Proverbs.

To begin, Dan outlines the four types of difficult people.

  1. Those who drain you: these are people who need you far beyond what is normal.
  2. Those who fail to hear you: these are people who are unable to attune to you and always have the mic.
  3. Those who are critics: these are people who undermine you and leave you mired in contempt.
  4. Those who envy you: these are people who want to be close but ultimately want to destroy you.

Those who drain you lead to: exhaustion.
Those who fail to hear or are critics lead to: contempt.
Those who envy lead to: confusion.

Dan discusses that when you are dealing with difficult people who are borderline or narcissistic, there are many more complications that arise.

He suggests that we need to be able to judge the power/intimacy scale, especially when it comes to family engagements. This scale also needs to considered in the work setting and with neighbors.

As you begin to notice you are dealing with difficult people, you need to know the markers. Unfortunately, in most occasions, things only get worse.

The goal is not to get someone to be not difficult. That would require of you an impossible task. However, the thought that you “just have to deal with it” is not true either. The approach of “ignore and maybe they’ll go away” is not effective. Eventually, you will boil over to the point of a meltdown confrontation. If your response is not to ignore or confront, you often just want to escape.

As we enter into the next conversation, we will consider what we are then hoping for as we address a difficult person.