Dealing with difficult people is tough. We have all got them. Sometimes they work with us, sometimes they raise kids with us, sometimes they are related to us, and sometimes they are friends of our friends. The holidays can put us right in front of these people.
A lady once told me that these folks were sandpaper people and that they were in your life to shape you up the way that sandpaper does. While that pearl certainly did not make dealing with difficult people any easier, it definitely made it more tolerable. That brings me to how I get through dealing with difficult personalities.
Know That is a Child of God
Sometimes when I look at someone I do not particularly enjoy, I try to remember that God chose them. I figure there are probably a lot of good qualities that person possesses that my own opinion of them won’t allow me to see. I think about how I would feel if someone were ugly to my own children and find a way to stand my ground without attacking back or engaging.
Try to Remember a Positive Time
Most of the difficult people in my life did not start out that way. When I know I am about to walk into a situation with a difficult person, I think of a positive moment with them or a time when they were kind or decent. It alleviates the dread when I am approaching time with sandpaper people.
Pray for Them
I know, I know. I felt your eye roll. How cliche. How annoying. There is a reason this is so often recommended. Prayer has helped me humanize the people I have seen as villains or monsters. Prayer has allowed me to give things to God. Prayer has allowed me to find sympathy and compassion. Prayer is truly powerful.
Find the Facts and Ditch the Emotion
If possible, do not respond at all. Silence can be a powerful tool. It gives you peace and sandpaper people little to work with, but there are situations when silence isn’t an option.
Sometimes sandpaper people want you to attend arguments. Sometimes they simply want to upset you because they are upset (pray for their hearts). The best way to diffuse conflict is to not join it. If you must respond, come from facts, not emotion. Ask pointed questions not angry ones. Do not come from hurt, come from a place that is objective.
Hang Tough, Mama
Holidays can be trying times. Sometimes sandpaper people cannot be avoided. Guard your heart, Mama. Do not cheapen who you are by being eaten alive by a difficult person. Find the human behind the sandpaper mask. Pray for them. Find the previous joy. Ditch the emotion. You’ll survive. You may even create ground for change.