8. Loving Difficult People
Understanding and Helping Difficult Personalities
"When you realize that people treat you according to how they see themselves rather than how you really are, you are less likely to take personally their behavior toward you." -- John C. Maxwell
People will always be our biggest struggle and greatest asset; it's true in our personal and professional circles. The beauty of humanity is that we are all so diverse, but that same diversity often causes our greatest conflicts.
While healthy relationships with difficult people can seem impossible, it's not outside the realm of possibilities if you are willing to have the right perspective and respond intentionally to the challenge.
I've realized in both my personal and professional life that the key to getting along with people is first understanding myself -- my personality, my emotional triggers, my stories, and my preferences -- so I can control how I respond to others. Only then can I clearly turn my attention to them -- their personality, their emotional triggers, their stories, and their preferences -- so I can better understand why they are responding a certain way to me.
As you continue to read, I want you to envision someone with whom you don't have an ideal relationship and consider how you might be able to improve that relationship by considering our main points.
What is my Perspective?
John Maxwell writes, "Most of the time, our relational problems stem from the fact that we ourselves have problems or issues that haven't been resolved." You see, most of us respond to others the same way we see ourselves, and we can't hope to improve our relationships until we can view ourselves more clearly and work at resolving our own stories, insecurities, obsessions, desires, and needs. You are not responsible for how others treat you, only for how you treat others, because while you can't choose how others will respond, you can decide how you will respond.
How Do I Understand Personalities?
In today's world, there are a myriad of personality assessments that can help develop your understanding of yourself and others. One of my favorites of these assessments is the DISC assessment which assigns the participant with a primary and secondary personality theme -- Dominance, Influence, Steady, and Compliant. Each theme has specific traits that may cause challenges or conflict within our relationships if we don't understand them -- task-oriented versus people-oriented, active versus reflective, open to change versus likes consistency, more communication versus less talkative, etc. Personalities are not good or bad in and of themselves; it all depends on how we understand and use them.
For more information about the DISC and other assessments I offer to help you develop a healthy awareness of yourself and others, please check out our website.
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." -- Viktor Frankl
How Do I Handle Problems?
Problems in your relationships are inevitable; if you handle them correctly, you can strengthen your relationship; if not, it can cause frustration, stress, division, and hurt feelings. Your ultimate goal in addressing problems should be to present the truth in such a way that builds the relationship up rather than tear it down. Unfortunately, unless both parties are willing to work on the problem, it is unlikely that a lasting resolution will take place, and eventually, ending the relationship is the only solution; however, this should always be the last choice once you have ensured you have done everything you can to handle the problem well.
The whole story will never be pieced together accurately unless everyone involved comes together.
Site facts rather than impressions or emotions.
Ensure you control your emotions; the angrier you are, the less objective you'll be.
Be specific; let the other person know exactly what the problem is.
Always allow the other person to tell their side of the story.
Don't hold a grudge; find a resolution and act accordingly.
Consider the following questions.
How do you need to take responsibility in your relationships this week?
How can you better understand yourself and the other person to improve the relationship?
What steps can you take to reconcile a current relationship problem?