Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tactics for Difficult People?

First, there was the great and much needed  resource of Isaiah 43:1-3 which helped me and several other people I have since talked with. Then there was the information on the Living Wills/Advanced Directives. Now, there is even more information on a subject I had been dealing with over the last few weeks: dealing with difficult people. Surprisingly, this is a little more humorous than you might think.

As you know, I had been having problems with someone who was working a real manipulation on me: breaking me down by ignoring me, diminishing my past achievements and efforts on their behalf while building up someone else in front of me. It almost worked, but I broke through the situation's effect on me with prayer.  Thankfully, it did not damage my very important relationship with the other person they were using.Now that both of us are aware of the situation and dealing with it together. (Might want to go do some warfare with those verses from Isaiah if you are having the same problem! lol)

Anyway, lo and behold, the same person who had been working their subtle little evil on me, recently had the mean-ness turned on them by someone else. Now, I don't think it's right to break people down - no matter who the person is or what they have done. It's just not holy, it's not of any kind of good, and it's pointless mind games. This is one of those hurtful situations you wouldn't wish on even an enemy.

 Here's the deal: Sometimes you can kid someone about something and it won't bother them, where at other times it will bother them. A lot. Just because of their circumstances. For instance, if I tease someone about putting on a few pounds and it was because of the holidays, that's not so bad. Especially if the person is doing well emotionally or okay in the other areas of their life. But if I tease that same person in the same way after, say, they have had a medical problem... Eh, that's not so good. In the first example, you are dealing with someone who is most likely not going to be thinking about your comment five minutes after you say it, It's gonna roll right off of them as they focus on all the other positive stuff they have going on. On the other hand, the person in the second example is likely to take the comment deeper to heart. They might be thinking about the comment and how awful it makes them feel for the next week. How freaking depressing, right? (I have been there and had to pray my way out of the very dark places I was taken.)

Anyway, I say ALL that to set up this: I have a certain family member who obviously has either a loose moral screw, attention deficit disorder (as in he doesn't get enough attention and needs more), or is just plain ignorant. Whatever the case, he has a talent for saying exactly the wrong thing at exactly the worst possible time. This is not just a talent; he has a skill for this. If they handed out Masters degrees for being a jerk, he would have a wall full of them. No kidding. He is a prime-A, foot-in-mouth jerk-a-verbal-looza.

*shaking out the stress & taking a calming breath*

ANYway, what happened was, the Jerk's victim was sharing some really wonderful family news with relatives out of state via Skype. Everyone was suitably happy, congratulatory and family-like. We were all having one of those warm, Walton family moments.

Then the Jerk made his appearance.

After congratulations to the victim, his next comment was a put-down regarding her weight.


He was so quick-draw with it (like he always is) that no one, not even his wife had time to try to sweeten it up. As usual, she suffered her own embarrassment in silence. She might as well, because he would surely turn on her. And there is nothing like a jerk who is smart and verbally quick on his feet.

Anyway, also as usual when the Jerk lets his Dr. Jerk side out, everyone just does the phony "haha" laugh and hopes for the moment to pass quickly. It usually does, but like I said, it lingers for the victim.

Now, I have never been sure why the Jerk is this way, I think his emotional cogs don't mesh right and I have serious questions about his Christianity at times. I think he is aware of his problem and I think he struggles with it (at times), but, like other weaknesses, it is his ongoing battle,


The victim in this case, now gets a taste of their own medicine (though I hate that it came about like it did and when it did. I understand the lingering emotional fallout it can cause). What I want to point out is that there are resources, of sorts, for dealing with these kinds of situations.

There's this site on dealing with difficult people.

Here's another site offering examples and responses.

Personally, I use the ignore and mirror tactic because it's the most honest. You basically ignore most of the person's actions that are too silly for your energy. When they are bothersome, you mirror them - treat them the way they treat you. If you know anything about people, it's that bullies are really cowards and they can rarely take what they can dish out. My tactic is not the most Christian way to handle things, but I am human, after all. I have a LOT of things I can pull from this person's past to bring up. There are incidents with the law that she tries to forget about, incidents where she wasn't on her most moral behavior... Like they say, bullies better guard their secrets very well... And, then, there is the granddaddy of them all: "One day when your kids grow up..." What goes around comes around sooner or later.

At any rate, I hope that you find a successful way to deal with the difficult people in your life. If you remember that they do hurtful things to make them feel better about their own weaknesses, you can work it out. And understand that the negative causes of the whole situation is about them, not you. They are the ones trying to ease some kind of pain with passive-aggressive actions. As my sister pointed out to me when we had a good laugh over our situation, "You have to kind of feel sorry for her and just try to be nice about it." So I do. Most of the time! LOL

Last of all, some humor. If you just need a witty retort sometimes, try these:

  • The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.
    ~ George Bernard Shaw
  • I don't take it personally. Everytime you open your mouth you offend someone.
  • Well, you probably said it without thinking, the way you do most things.
  • It's not what you say, it's the thought behind it that counts and I know there's never much thought behind anything you say.
  • Ignoring enemies is the best way to fight.
Mostly, though, when you really just get tired to the hilt of someone's b.s., call them on it. Save that for when you are really, really done with it. Just tell them right to their face what you think they are trying to prove by saying the things they say. Nothing stops b.s. like honest confrontation.

And, seriously - try your hardest to just pray for them. There has to be something wrong with a person who is insensitive. I talk hard about it myself, but as a Christian, I am supposed to continue taking the high road so that maybe they will want to see what the whole "love one another" thing is about.