Whenever there was a difficult or mean co-worker to deal with, my boss always sent me. To this day I have no idea why I was tasked with dealing with the difficult person except maybe I was too clueless to say no. This was the person labeled as mean, critical, hateful and hard to get along with.
An example was *Harriet Forrest. Harriet ran the IT department and as a marketing department, we needed to get along with Harriet. Everyone was afraid of Harriet, except me, and fled the other direction whenever they heard her walking down the hallway.
Instead of fleeing Harriet’s presence, I spoke kindly to her and prayed for her whenever I could. Since I was the only one from my department that would talk to Harriet, she would seek me out when she had an idea for marketing. Harriet and I became friends.
I learned years later after I left that position that Harriet was arrested at the job. Apparently all those years she had been doing something illegal. I remember that she was moody and wondered if she dabbled in drugs.
Another difficult co-worker was *Paul Blake. Paul was blunt and a no-nonsense type of person that was offensive without realizing it. I have that type of personality so I liked Paul’s straightforward approach.
Paul terrified everyone with his unpredictable outbursts. I learned to not take Paul’s outbursts personally. We got along and I was the emissary from my department for dealing with Paul.
The ability to deal with difficult people is a gift from God. God routinely sent people such as Joseph — who rose from being a slave to second in command in Egypt — into dealing with difficult people. Here’s what has helped me to deal with difficult people.
- I look at them as a child of God. When they are screaming obscenities at you, it could be hard to see them as His child. But He made them and He knows how they are wired.
- I ask God for wisdom and I pray for them. Most difficult people that I’ve worked with are under a lot of pressure and strain to perform. You become the outlet to their stress when they are rude or mean.
- I decide how I am going to treat them. I’m in charge of the relationship and I choose to bring life, joy, peace and love on the scene. I choose to bring the fruit of the spirit. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.…” Galatians 5:22-23
Paul Blake was eventually fired from his job. I didn’t have to manipulate circumstances to deal with the injustice. Paul’s temper turned off the wrong person. When you deal with a difficult person, trust God that He will help you through the relationship.
*Names changed to protect their privacy.