Vanessa Van Edwards, a behavioral investigator, suggest four ways of dealing with difficult people. First, most difficult people fall into one of four categories:
- Downers – They complain about everything
- Better Than – They are show-offs; they “one-up” everyone; know it all
- Passives – Low/no confidence, afraid
- Tanks – Angry/explosive, bossy, control fanatics
You cannot fix difficult people. Instead of trying to fix them, try to understand them. Find their value language. Discover what drives them and use that to diffuse them. Make sure that difficult people are not toxic to you. Set boundaries.
All of us deal with difficult people and all of us, from time-to-time, fall into one of the four categories. Personally, the goal is to recognize where we are and seek ways of minimizing it and living better lives.
Jesus had to deal with difficult people, especially the Pharisees. They were malicious in their efforts to discredit Jesus by asking questions with hopes of embarrassing and entrapping Him. They complained about everything. They were show-offs, parading the community in their long robes, offering long prayers, and displaying explosive outbreaks. They were often bossy and using their religious authority in inappropriate ways.
Jesus often tried to understand them by pointing to new ways of appropriating Scriptures that spoke to the needs of the people. Jesus understood what drove them and attempted to diffuse them by speaking truth to power.
Jesus was not successful in transforming them. They were difficult throughout His ministry. Yet, Jesus did not allow their actions to deter His mission. He fulfilled the mission that God established for Him. Jesus lived, suffered, was crucified, died, and resurrected from the grave.
We learn from Jesus how to be patient with others, but how to live by our core beliefs. We cannot allow others to distract us from being disciples of Jesus. We must love God and love each other. We earnestly must pray for one another, even those who are difficult. Let us live in ways that give evidence that we are disciples of Jesus. Amen.