How to Respond to Difficult Personalities

In conversations it is sometimes a bit difficult, because if there is somebody who is “upstream” and wants to differ on everything, it slows solutions, conversations, and relations.thumbs

The dispute presented to Solomon concerns two baby boys, one dead and one alive, and the conflicting testimonies of their prostitute mothers (1 Kings 3:22).  How is Solomon to know who is telling the truth and who is lying? There are no witnesses to testify. There is no evidence to introduce. There is no one to identify the baby boys. There is no way to know which baby belongs to which mother. The situation seems impossible to resolve as each mother continues to adamantly claim the living baby as her own.  The wisdom and discernment for which the king prayed is clearly being put to the test, and the resolution he introduces involves the living infant and a sword …1 Kings 3:23–24 “The king said, ‘This one says, “My son is alive and your son is dead,” while that one says, “No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.” Then the king said, ‘Bring me a sword.’ So they brought a sword for the king.” It was only when he threatened to kill the baby that the real mother said, please give the baby to the other mother.  Then Solomon knew that she was the real mother.

We have to have the wisdom of Solomon to know how to react to difficult personalities when it comes to conflict.

People who attack in conflict, want to feel powerful.  How to react to these people: Let them have their say without interrupting; Get their attention with praise; Hold your ground (match strength with strength.); Avoid arguments; Don’t put yourself down. 2 Timothy 2:23 “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”

People who attack in conflict, want to feel superior. How to react to these people: Be aware of their power to destroy; Catch them in a lie; Enlist someone to help you confront them in private; Expect them to deny what they have done; Don’t let them get away with an attack.  Matthew 18:15–17 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

People who attack in conflict, want to feel valuable.  How to react to these people: Learn to cut off negative conversation; Respond only to what is important; Confront their game-playing; Encourage a look at solutions; Don’t reinforce their complaints.  Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

People who avoid conflict, want to feel secure and safe.  How to react to these people: Ask questions that can’t be answered with yes or no; Seek to get them to talk on the feeling level; Hang in there until you get a response; Be positive, not critical with them; Don’t answer for them.  Proverbs 12:8 “A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised.”

People who avoid conflict, want to feel secure and accepted. How to react to these people: Make it a possibility and acceptable to disagree; Help them identify priorities; Learn their hidden fears; Reinforce their decisions; Don’t accept their yes as complete agreement. Proverbs 12:25 “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”

People who avoid conflict, want to feel secure and courage. How to react to these people: Avoid accusations; Don’t get drawn into arguments; Be strong and immovable; Be forgiving; Be consistently encouraging. 2 Corinthians 6:4, 7 “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses … in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left.”