4. Surround yourself with some encouraging people.
It’s true there are people who are difficult about everything. They would never encourage anyone. That’s the reality of working with people. But, there are also people who are positive about most things. They have great attitudes and are supportive encouragers. Every Christian leader needs to find a core of people who can encourage them in their walk with Christ, believes in their leadership ability, and who genuinely cares about their (and their family’s) best interest.
5. Remember: difficult people are difficult to others, too.
It often helps me reconcile what a difficult person says about me when I realize they are always spreading their negativity somewhere. I’m not trying to be cruel, but it’s often more about who they are than who I am. If it were not me being criticized, it would be their next victim. Do not give as much weight to the voice of the consistently negative person. Sometimes we tend to give them the most attention.
The only way you will ever shut down the person who is always difficult is to refuse to give them an audience for their negativity. The more they are given a continued voice the more they bring other people into their negativity. If the same attention is placed on people who are a positive influence then they will bring people along into positivity.
6. Confront untruth, gossip and passive aggression.
You do not have to go on a witch-hunt for it, nor should you, but you should try to stop the spread of damage. Don’t be bashful about doing so. Don’t embarrass people or treat them harshly. Treat everyone with love. Be an example of how to handle disagreement Biblically. But don’t ignore it either.
The point is until someone stands up to difficult people – those who disrupt the work of the body – they will only continue. I always feel justified in confronting those who do because there are huge Biblical principles against disunity in the church and how we are to treat other people.
7. Be truthful and positive when you deal with difficult people.
Decide you will always be a positive influence. Don’t repeat untruths or gossip and avoid being a hypercritical person. Look for the good in situations. A positive attitude is equally contagious.
(Let me pause here and recognize if you’ve read this far it’s likely you have some very difficult people you are dealing with currently. I know the pain. I’m voicing a prayer for you now.)
There are always difficult people. That’s part of ministry, but it’s also part of life. Learning to deal with difficult people effectively will make you a better leader and your church will have the opportunity to be a healthier church.
This article on how to deal with difficult people originally appeared here, and is used by permission. Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss issues of leadership in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.