How to get along with difficult people

Understand people are created differently

We find it difficult to get along with people who are different from us. But how boring the world would be if everyone were just like us.

The Bible gave a good example of two people who were so different from each other. They were Jacob and Esau.

(Gen 25:27 NIV)  The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents.

We need to understand that in a conflict, it is not that we are right and they are wrong but rather that we are different. We should accept a person’s unique characteristics and not try to change him to resemble us.

View a person as a package of good and bad

When we meet difficult people, our perception of them sometimes takes on extreme positions. We are so overwhelmed by their negative traits that we forget they also have positive ones. Learn to view a person as a package of good and bad and it will be easier to accept them and get along with them.

One example of a mixed bag of good and bad was the Mary’s sister, Martha. We read of her story in Luke 10:38 – 42 and often disliked her for being so critical of her sister. She was also rebuked by Jesus for that. However, we have to realize that there are also many positives in her. For example, she was a very hardworking person and a hospitable host.

Recognize that evil forces may be at work in them

When Jesus encountered opposition with Peter, He knew that the opposition was not with the man but rather with the evil forces that are at work in Peter.

(Mark 8:31-33 NIV)  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. {32} He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. {33} But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

When we encounter people who are difficult to love, know that it may be the evil that is at work in their lives. Pray against the work of the evil one.

(Eph 6:12 NIV)  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Put yourself in his perspective

We often detest of somebody’s behavior but have not really made the effort to understand why he is behaving in a certain way. We will understand better if we learn to put ourselves in his position.

I sometimes find it hard to understand why a person of another religion would behave in a certain way. However, if I had been born where he was born or went though what he had gone through, would my behavior be different from his? Instead of being critical and finding it difficult to get along with this person, I should be putting myself in his perspective to try to get a better understanding of him.

Understand that humans do make mistakes

When we say that a person is difficult to work with, it may betray our lack of patience for a person’s mistakes. We sometimes demand perfection in another person and find it difficult to work with someone who is less than perfect.

We should know that nobody is perfect. If we correct ourselves and learn to have more patience, there may be fewer people we would brand as difficult to get along with.

Are we also irritating others?

We always think of others as difficult but we do not realize that we can also be difficult to get along with. The Bible tells us that we notice the faults in others but not in ourselves.

(Mat 7:3-5 NIV)  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? {4} How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? {5} You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

If we have a proper reflection of ourselves, we will find that we can accept others better and get along with them better.