Dealing with Difficult People – Part 2

Today I want to share with you some practical steps you can take when dealing with a difficult person.

Many times we are approached by an angry parent, volunteer or co-worker at a time when we are the least prepared to deal with an emotional or heated conversation. In those moments, it’s all too easy to…

  • Say something we will later regret.
  • Make promises we can’t keep just to shut them up.
  • Say nothing in hopes they will just go away.

In the “heat of battle,” there are a lot of things that go through my mind. Things like “Why am I in ministry” or “I wish I had a taser” or “this would be a good time for the rapture.” haha

But the truth is even in those moments I want to find the best possible solution or course of action. Remember, these people will always be around. Ignoring them will only delay the problem and convincing them to try the church down the street will only perpetuate the problem because the pastor down the street may be doing the same thing.

When I realize I am dealing with a difficult person, I think of three words that help me to remember a good strategy for properly dealing with conflict and guiding my response.

Key Strategies in Dealing with Difficult People:



My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight. James 1:19-20(NLT)

Listen Up!

  • Listening Slows Me Down

If I’m listening, I’m less likely to lash out. It gives my mind and heart an opportunity to align before I open my mouth. Typically if I really try to listen to the person, I get over the initial hump of saying something stupid.

  • Listening Shows I Care

Often times when people see that you genuinely care, it diffuses some of the emotion they are bringing into the conversation.

Now, here’s a question for you…….what do you do if you don’t care? Come on, you know there are times people are complaining or sharing some “input” and the reality is you simply don’t care.

For example, a dad shares with you in the hallway that his wife left him and took the kids. He is pouring out his heart and looking for some guidance. After that conversation, you walk a few steps and a person who has been waiting to talk with you steps in your path. “Excuse me, I wanted to talk with you about the music in the children’s room. It seems to be much louder than necessary and I really feel you should do something about it.”

Guess what, in that moment I really don’t care! I am consumed with the hurt and pain my brother is feeling over a real life tragedy. The music may be too loud, but in that moment I don’t care.

That’s where LISTENING helps me. It’s a discipline that forces me to separate the two issues. This lady in front of me doesn’t know about the previous conversation. She just knows the loud music bothers her son. So by LISTENING I slow down and show I care.

In the next blog post, we’ll talk about the next step…LEARNING.


  1. Elaine roberts says:

    Those are are 3 L’s we use in the reef.

  2. Reblogged this on Relationship Tonic.

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