Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dealing with a Difficult Person

Button-pushers. They get on that last nerve all the while oblivious to the damage they cause in another's life. Anyone dealing with one could use a word of encouragement. They’re rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful, intrusive, self-absorbed and insensitive. They are the difficult people in life. The button-pushers.

It’s nerve-wracking to confront a difficult person or put them on the spot to find they always blame someone else. That they remain convinced it’s some other person’s fault and not theirs at all is mind-boggling.

So, what’s a person to do? Dealing with a difficult person can be frustrating and exhausting, and anyone currently in that position could use some encouragement. First, pray for the difficult person. It may be hard to pray for someone who constantly rubs the wrong nerve and drives everyone crazy, but the prayer isn’t just for the button-pusher. It’s also for the one praying. Ask the Lord to open that person’s eyes to the truth of the situation. Also, pray for healing in the relationship, whether the button-pusher is a spouse, child, friend or boss.

The most powerful weapon any Christian has is prayer. Dr. John Townsend hits the mark in, Handling Difficult People, when he writes, “The problem of all problems in a button-pusher is that he does not own, or take responsibility for, the issues that affect his life and those around him” (52). He adds that some button-pushers act as though the world revolves around them. They are constantly talking of their troubles and barely paying attention to someone else’s and, “They have a diminished capacity for empathy for the feelings of others and perceive other people as nagging, blaming, persecuting, controlling, or —worst of all— insignificant” (23).

According to Dr. Townsend, another answer is to develop a vision. To keep an image in mind that encapsulates a goal with the purpose of helping through the dark times. (50) One way that he suggests doing this is to see in the mind’s eye things a person would like from their button-pusher, “such as closeness, safety, intimacy, respect, freedom, thrust, and mutuality” (52). He goes on to mention that the vision would include an image of the button-pusher “being open to being wrong, to being sorry, to hearing how he affects you, to seeing himself as a contributor to the problem, and to entering a process of change if needed” (52).

While the struggle to make headway with a difficult person can be tiring and distressing, it’s not impossible. Dealing with one doesn’t have to be to the detriment of those around him. Instead of becoming frustrated and blowing your testimony, consider what may happen by praying for the person and developing a vision for a positive change. Chances are, the button-pusher won’t be the only one who changes.