We are constantly being put to the test by trying circumstances and difficult people and problems not necessarily of our own making.
We’ve all dealt with them. Difficult people. If you haven’t, perhaps you’re the difficult one : )
People who in a meeting highjack the discussion to take it to a negative and destructive place. People who demand their way all the time and manipulate us, even to the point of abusiveness, in order to try to get it. People who just need to have the upper hand, who always have to be in control, and who will do whatever they need to, to get their own way.
Both of us have seen how behaviors such as these can significantly bring others down, can foster disunity and dissension within a group and can poison relationships for long periods of time. When that happens decisions and actions that follow are then often based on fear. Unhealthy ways of interacting are the outcome. People avoid one another. They lie to one another to keep an uncertain peace. They complain chronically to and about one another. They generally find themselves working, acting and living in an atmosphere that is toxic and damaging. None of that is good.
So, how do we find and nurture the grace and patience and love to deal with people like this? How do we ultimately exemplify and live out values that promote union and cooperation and acceptance?
It’s rarely easy to live with those who hurt and discourage us. But they are real and we have to find ways to live with them and yet know that their negativity does not have to pollute us.
Often we are inclined, in times of distress, to retaliate by lashing out and often by employing the same tactics as those who have brought us down with them. But that rarely, if ever, works to make things better. Usually that only complicates things and makes them worse. Instead, our first step in the heat of the moment needs to be to step away and to at least emotionally disengage. We all have to cool down before we can deal with the situation at hand. Then we have found we all need to find someone else to tell it to, someone not as directly involved, who can be more rational and is able to allow us to share our frustrations in safety. Someone who will listen patiently to us, someone who can empathize with us and someone with whom we can express all our feeling about the situation in order allow us to sort it all out.
In those moments of intensity, know that there are people like us who care enough to listen.