Oct. 1, 2017

Under it? Over it? Straight through it?

Everyone faces difficult people or demanding situations from time to time. Everyday life reveals not everyone thinks alike or acts the same. Difference is part of this magnificent creation called, “humanity.” So, what do we do when we face opposition? How do we learn to work with difficult personalities?

First – Understand what I define as “difficult” may not be how you define it. Most of us who avoid confrontation would prefer to work undercover when conflict arises. We take on the “ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away” philosophy. If we are someone who prefers to pretend all is well and everyone gets along, we have developed a lifestyle of undercover work where we continue along the pathway of life as if everything is a-ok. What can be more dangerous and hurtful is if we use our undercover tactics to talk to everyone else about our concern without digging down to the root of our problem. Gossip grows greater grievances. Is that productive? Is it Godly?

Secondly – There are people who learn to function in all settings; even the most difficult environment with the most difficult personalities. We’ve developed a thick skin that can ignore what is going on around us. We are totally focused on our role, our space, our job, and our goals. If someone dares stop to seek improvement or prompts a discussion, we’ll find a way to step over the them and the obstacle they present. We are hurdle jumpers. Constantly jumping over hurdles can be exhausting. We get a magnificent work out, but do we make any strides in life?

Thirdly – Abrasive people are not the same as assertive people. Abrasive people take immense joy in rubbing others the wrong way just to launch conversation. We call these people, “the devil’s advocate,” and many of us fully believe they represent Satan himself. Assertive people, however, do not set out to be abrasive. Their goal is to be heard. Their target is to find the root problem, discover the real solution and take the final steps towards completion. They want to cross the finish line. They very seldom ignore what is going on around them. They will never avoid conflict. They are not afraid to face the opposing side. Assertive people go straight through a problem to find a real, long term solution. Assertive people refuse to take short cuts. They want to learn the lesson correctly the first time. Do you realize assertive people also rub passive people the wrong way, so we may end up being called, “abrasive” despite the incorrect label? We cannot allow others to define us. God made us who we are for specific purposes. Are we willing to clarify abrasive behavior while embracing assertiveness?

Handling conflict effectively is an important life skill because we all must face conflict. The decision to go under it (pretend all is well), jump over it (ignore it), or to hit it head on will determine all human interaction placed in our path. True conflict resolution is to acknowledge the issue and feelings involved, talk it over, and move forward – together. We must be willing to sit on a level playing field and endure the negative feelings to truly get to the root of a problem. Arrogance and closed minds do not result in victory. For anyone.

To fall short of working through the problem keeps us stuck in conflict. Healthy people seek resolution.