True to form, like many of my ideas to consider and comment on in this column, come from listening or talking to other people. My topic today came precisely that way. One of my close associates sent me a brief message through a mutual friend of ours that her boss had evidently gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Consequently, though he is not usually ill tempered and hard to get along with, on this particular day, Mr. Hyde had completely taken over the usually calm, empathetic, and very easy to get along with Dr. Jekyll. I want to present to you some very practical ways that anyone can utilize in order that they might be able to get along with people who are difficult to get along with.
Get to Know Them Better
Before you write people off as being difficult to get along with, spend some time and effort getting to know them. There is a reason and root cause why people act the way they act. Some people are like the lion who was uncommonly mean, ferocious, and always growling. Then one day, he caught a monkey and was getting ready to eat him when the little helpless monkey saw a splinter in one of the lion’s front paws. The monkey reached out and pulled the splinter out of the lion’s paw and the lion immediately changed his mind about eating the monkey. The monkey’s act of kindness altered the lion’s hungry craving for a while and spared the monkey’s life. Many (if not most) people who are hard to get along with are in many ways like the lion in the previous illustration. There is a reason or root cause that is stimulating their attitude and bad behavior. Once we get to know these people a little better, hopefully we will be able to understand them and through prayer and patience help them to change.
Treat Them with Respect and Kindness
It is almost impossible to be mean spirited and discourteous to people when they are respectful and kind to you. Only a person who is mentally challenged can treat people who are kind and courteous to them in a harsh and cruel way. So, in light of this, I am convinced that one of the most effective ways to get along with people who are hard to get along with is to treat them with respect and kindness. Do not be overcome by their negatives, but overcome their negatives by the positive and good that is in you.
Disarm Their Bad Disposition with a Smile
Whether you believe this or not, a smile and friendly face will work wonders on people who have a bad attitude and are hard to get along with. There is something that is almost magical that is released when you are dealing with a person who is hard to get along with and who has a bad disposition. Perhaps it is due to the fact that they can perceive no anger or hostility in you when you are just standing there smiling while they are doing their level best to intimidate or berate you. I have seen smiles coming from people who were being criticized and reprimanded justifiably disarm the anger and temper of those who were scolding them.
Hold Your Peace
and Do Not Retaliate
I have had to learn and train myself to put into effect what the heading of this section instructs in order to get along with a few people who were hard to get along with. To be honest, this discipline that is a principle taught in both the Old and New Testaments, is extremely difficult to achieve in your own power and strength. I failed many times attempting to practice it until I came to my wits end and turned it over to the Lord. Admittedly, I have not reached perfection in remaining silent and still when being verbally criticized and attacked by people. Nevertheless, I am growing in the practice of not retaliating. I encourage and recommend you to learn how to hold your peace when dealing with people who are hard to get along with. Just as the Scripture reminds us, “Where no wood is, there the fire goes out” (Proverbs 26:20), when we refuse to add fuel to the fire of contention or dealing with a person who is difficult to get along with, remaining silent and still while people are fuming and on the warpath is one of the most effective ways to calm the raging beast that has taken control of them.
Pray for Them
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Admittedly, all of the very practical solutions that I have presented and briefly commented on in this column are biblically based and will render some positive results when adhered to. However, this last one that instructs us to pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us is a powerful weapon that takes the fight to the real enemy behind the human pawns and puppets that are hard to get along with. Often, when people are unusually hard, if not impossible to get along with, there are unseen forces and foes manipulating them. This is especially true when you are a true follower of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Perhaps nothing can disarm a person who is hostile and against you in any situation or scenario like loving them, forgiving them, and praying for them.