Look Beyond The Behavior – 3 Steps for Dealing with Difficult People


We all have people in our lives who tend to drive us crazy. Right? Let’s face it. We are accosted by careless words, hurt by unjustified behaviors, or shirked off as worthless beings.


No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to make any headway with certain people. All we want is a little respect. We long to be treated civil and appreciated for what we do or have to offer.

Yet nothing we do seems to work.

In my experience, I have found 3 steps that help me deal more effectively with difficult people. I would like to share them with you.


STEP 1 – LOOK BEYOND THEIR BEHAVIOR. If we can look beyond their behavior and words, we will see the person behind the assault is just that –  a person. Many people with low self-esteem become defensive when their insecurity is invaded. They may not even be aware defensive actions were triggered or what they said was hurtful. Give the difficult person the benefit of the doubt.

STEP 2 – PICTURE YOUR DIFFICULT PERSON AS A CHILD. If we really believe our difficult person was being mean on purpose, then try to picture them as a child. Usually, something happened growing up that warrants a collection of protective behaviors. To keep from being hurt again, these learned mechanisms of protection are launched automatically, often unaware of what triggered the reaction. Our difficult person may be clueless of the hurt they caused

STEP 3 – LOOK INSIDE OURSELVES. Is there something we feel insecure about? Why did we react like we did to their actions or words? Perhaps our difficult person wasn’t actually being mean at all, but because of something that happened in our past our defensive nature is triggered and our mind perceives the actions or words incorrectly. Maybe we are the ones with a skewed vision.

When we look beyond the behavior, have compassion on our difficult person, and get a handle on our own insecurities, perhaps we will be able to access verbal assualts and offensive actions in a much truer light. Perhaps we will begin to see our reactions change.

And maybe…just maybe…our difficult person won’t be so difficult after all.

Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.  (Luke 6:38, NLT)

Prayer:  Dear Father, Thank you for being patient with us. We all come from different back grounds with experiences that affect us deep down. As we learn to deal with other people, especially difficult people, help us to see them as you see them – a person who needs to be loved. Help us develop patience and treat others as we would like to be treated. We ask this in your precious son Jesus’ name. Amen.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS:  Have you had a difficult person in your life? How have you dealt with them? Do you have any additional suggestions that you found helpful?


2 thoughts on “Look Beyond The Behavior – 3 Steps for Dealing with Difficult People

  1. Having a difficult family member has been a challange. I just continue to love her and keep the communication doors open. Seeking God’s wisdom through prayer has brought some changes for which I am grateful. We must change ourselves and allow God to work in the other persons life.

  2. Great reminder, thanks, Sheryl. But, I have to admit my inner child spoke to me at step 2 and quipped,”I looked at my boss as a child and told him to stand in the corner. That didn’t work out too well.”

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