So, you've got that person in front of you again. The one you dread meeting at the office or at school or at church. You have to deal with this person. There's really no clear way of getting around them or writing them off. Instead of just distancing yourself from strong-willed, strong personalities, it's time to figure out how to manage the relationship and get beyond your simple discomfort. I've thought of four first steps to take in dealing with people like this.
- Reject fear. Often, the reason we feel uncomfortable with certain personalities--maybe the loose canon or the stubborn passive aggressive person--is because we fear them. There's something unsettling about the way they relate, and we allow that to overtake our relating to them or about them. I suggest getting clear on why it is that you feel weak or uncomfortable around this person. Are they unconsciously pushing buttons that run your life? Do they unwittingly remind you of someone who hurt you in your past? Do they threaten your own sense of well-being or worth? Often, because of our own perspective or temperament, we end up distancing ourselves from people out of a sense of comfort, rather than finding ways to enter into relationships with people whose personalities are strong.
- Spend some time. Rather than seeking to distance ourselves from a person who makes us uncomfortable, one of the best strategies for overcoming these feelings is to spend personal time with the person who makes us uneasy. If you will spend some quality time with the person who makes you feel uneasy, you will quickly find you understand them better. The next time you feel they're getting pushy or maybe trying to manipulate you, you will have the relationship capital to understand where they are coming from or to say something light that will help to diffuse the tension you feel. Until you've really demonstrated an interest in the person individually, you may not have the right foundation for such a move. Personal time with the other person may help overcome what you find disconcerting in the other person.
- Let love rule. When you really love someone, you can put up with some of their uncanny and even rude idiosyncrasies. The same is true in this situation. If you will decide that loving this person is more important than everything else about them that makes you uncomfortable, it will help you relax and even enjoy them a bit more.
- Tell the truth. One of the worst habits we can develop with overpowering people is to tell them what we think they want to hear. The quicker you can decide you will not fear this person and that you will love them, the sooner you will tell them the truth about what you're thinking and you will discover quickly whether the strong-willed person who makes you uncomfortable has honest intentions in relating to you.
These are some of the first strategies I would recommend when trying to deal with overpowering, difficult personalities. Perhaps one of the best things to remember in interactions like these is that the strong, loud, overbearing personality is often the person who is the most forthright and honest. The slick, scheming person is rarely like that.
What helps you deal with people like this?
Labels: discipleship, interpersonal conflict, leadership, leadership development, relate, relationships