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The Joyous Response to Annoyance

Steven Grabiner Craig Harding
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Smart ministries and businesses recognize that people are their greatest resource. Yet what do you do with that person that is just impossible to get along with? Or that co-worker who is continually contrary? Or that partner, board member, or fellow church member who is decidedly difficult to work with? Join us to learn practical tips in working with difficult people, drawn from life experiences that have taught both Craig and Steven important lessons.

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  • August 5, 2016
    3:30 PM
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Father in heaven. Thank you so much for your grace and your providence and everything that comes to us help us to realize that in all circumstances you are trying to work something out in our lives we pray that you bless our time together this afternoon may be helpful informative and practical in Jesus' name. Well for those of you that don't know. Craig and I or what O.C.I. is just want to share briefly O.C.I. is an international ministry family of supporting ministries. Right now there's about one hundred twenty four and forty four different countries and our desire is to see in every country in the world lay people engaged in ministry and so that gives us a lot of opportunity to rub shoulders with people. It gives us a lot of opportunity to sit on boards far too many boards and when you sit on those boards or when you're working closely with people. Obviously there is plenty of opportunity to encounter a difficult person. So let me ask any difficult people that you've encountered in your life in your work situation or in your ministry. Would you be considered a difficult person. Maybe. So you know I think really depending on the circumstance. That's really true that in certain circumstances we could be difficult people and so what we'd like to do this this afternoon is kind of share some principles share some stories the stories that we're going to share are true. The names have pretty been for change to protect the guilty and just because we share these stories doesn't mean that we're experts in them. My first task as vice president was to fly from one country cross the vast continent to another kind. To speak to a gentleman who had helped start a ministry of ministry was running very successfully and confront him about his immorality and it was my first official task as a CIA vice president up there are coming up. Great. Come let's sit down together. How do you have that kind of a conversation with somebody. It's kind of an awkward situation and through that situation. The individual obviously was removed from his position in leadership and that started a cascading flow of events in that organization in which it all simply came about where the whole board had to be changed. Everybody resigned off the board. I was put on the board. I had been on the board at that time was put on the board had to choose a whole new board to try to navigate the circumstances so interesting situation. Craig's got a couple of stories as well. And as he's going to stand in turn his mike on I just want to say this I have some cards for you to get when you leave. They're not particularly on this topic but they are a list of questions that will help you in a variety of situations board meetings your future facing change so I don't want to forget to give these to at the end of the presentation. So one of the things we get to do on top of sitting on lots of boards is organizations sometimes will get us involved in doing assessments of their organizational health. And so not too long ago an organization called and asked that we come and look and. Go through with each one of the staff departments and do a survey of verity of questions in relation to how they were performing their following of the board's policies for the organization and so we sat down and went through each department and went through this process and as I was doing this. It became very clear. That the organization was split down the middle over certain issues. And it was very polarized in relation to people. And the tricky thing was both sides were spearheaded by very gifted and very strong people. What do you do in a situation where you're dealing with two very strong people very gifted people and the opportunity to have a divided campus and I would say opportunity in the negative sense. And so was an interesting experience. Because I had to decide at that moment. Do I try to fix what is not fixable. Or do we start to look at how can both individuals both factions begin to look for ways to continue their ministries. Successfully by the grace of God but in different places and so looking with at situation with difficult people sometimes we want to believe that because people are Christians they should always be able to work it out and work together. But if you think about the story of Paul and the story of John Mark we see that I actually believe that it would have been ideal for both of them to be able to work together with with each other but it actually led to a division and while I don't think the division was God's plan. I do believe that God works in spite of our errors and he actually helped both of them to spread the gospel more than they would have together and so I think we have to think about in difficult situations. Are they always resolvable and if they're not resolvable because people have choice. Can we work together with people to help them continue their ministry but continue it in different places and so that was an interesting story that I experienced. So one board that I sat on had a board chairman. That was I. What's the right word extremely. Stubborn and vocal and demeaning to his board members called us all a group of idiots at one point in time. And how do you respond to that. Yeah you know and maybe some of you are not involved in ministries or have boards the Navy. So if you sit on church boards that any body ever had been in a church board that was uncomfortable at times where people really kind of dig into their positions. So you know meeting difficult people. Crosses a lot of lines a lot of circumstances we could say. And so on to kind of. Say this that this is very important that conflict really is unavoidable. And if you are in ministry or you're working in your church you have a business and you realize that there is conflict get over the fact that you're in conflict and I had to be difficult for you or rude or blunt but really conflict is unavoidable and we need to realize OK I am going to run into this question is how my going to navigate it. And really in organizations it's important that we have healthy conflict. OK so. At last experience that I shared it was actually really interesting sitting down with some of the folks that were on the board of that organization and talking about the inevitable that was coming. They recognized that in their organization they had failed to have healthy unavoidable conflict in small contained settings. Because if they had been able to deal with the issue. That was actually quite small to start with. Before it grew and before there were sides. They would have been able to quite likely to worked it out but because they didn't recognize that conflict was unavoidable without Let's avoid conflict. They actually lead to a conflict that was unresolvable at that point. So just. Kind of quick poll here. How many of you like to avoid conflict just raise your hair. It suggests is the only one that really like likes conflict I probably would've said that in the very guy. So most of us really were like No I want to avoid this. And so we avoid having these difficult conversations with difficult people and that really is not a good strategy for a Healthy Ministry. It's not a good strategy for a healthy family. It's not a good strategy for a healthy church. So we really need to learn. OK so how can I in gauge in this circumstance the situation in a way that's going to be bring positive and let me give a disclaimer for both Craig and I we've had a lot of experiences working with difficult people we are both difficult people as well but when it. So be difficult but just because we've had a lot of experiences doesn't mean we've solved everything. In fact just before you all came in we were commiserating with one another about difficult situations that happened today like an hour before these meetings different difficult situations for him and for me and how poorly we handled it so. But let's talk about a couple of difficult people are kinds of difficult people that are there. So first of all you have people that are very stubborn and positional once they take their stake out their territory there is no moving them. You know they're very entrenched in who they are what they're thinking this is the way it's going to be with that kind of a person. What can we do we can try to separate the position the problem from the person because usually when we have a conflict. So this is unscripted so Craig. Incidentally is kind of like one of these people. Except the stubborn and positional accept he's come to the point where he is willing to move but in order for him to move. You've really got to go through some conversations with him. Sorry and stress is this is all true. So but as we're dealing with things I'd need to look I needed to learn OK we need to separate things. It's very easy when someone stubborn in positional to attribute to down certain negative intentions which really aren't there. So on that note I can think of an instance where we actually work together and had this happen so. One day I came into Steven's I'm going to be embarrassed now you know and I sat down and I think I like just unloaded on him and he's like What did I do to deserve this. You know and and I was actually quite aggressive about it. I'm not generally I'm I put things forward but I'm usually not aggressive in nature and that's where he's not I was very aggressive about it. He went he was thinking. What's with you. You know why him why you why we having this conversation like this and I actually had a burden. I wanted to get a certain thing done for the organization that I really felt was important. The trick was I don't think that I actually communicated it very well what it will or why I thought it was so important and so he wasn't sure that it was so important and I was very frustrated because I didn't think I was being heard. There's something interesting about stubborn oppositional people people who are not always reacting that way can begin to react that way if they don't feel they're heard the good news is he did listen. And I repented of being so stubborn and positional. And we actually came to a good conclusion and got what we needed done but it was an interesting experience and I think it was one of the few times where we squared off on an issue fairly strongly on that I think you know exactly and and just really be. Open like OK so like what is this what why is this so important and then we dialogue and that was after we knocked one another down stuff. Another kind of difficult person are people that are untrustworthy that you know perhaps they lie or they're they're deceitful in some aspects simply being open to that person or showing that your interest in persuasion isn't going to work with that person but really we need verification and we're going to talk about some steps to have conversations to ask for that kind of verification. You know the thing to do there. When someone that's untrustworthy is to build in consequences. Rather than just kind of put our heads in the sand to think through certain circumstances. And the kind of difficult people are those that just don't listen you know they want to talk all the time and of course there's a little bit there. Of personality which will come into play as we go through the presentations Well some people are more talkers some are more listeners and those that are more listeners can feel that those are talkers don't listen at all. And so I do we navigate that how do we come to the point where we really can get the other person's attention and. Communicate what we wanted to say the last person last issue here is personal attacks. I don't know if you've ever had. This is well I remember being in a board meeting someplace on some planet and as I was we were in that board meeting. It needed to come to a close and so I was drawing the meeting to the close and one of the participants in the. The board meeting said Oh I have one more thing I'd like to say. And I was like really it's time for us to and and we're going to draw to a close and they said well I really have one more thing to say. Now the wiser thing for me to have done at that point in time would be to say OK what do you have to. Say. But I didn't I said well we have another meeting starting in five minutes we really need to close. So we closed as soon as we closed this individual erupted with personal attacks against me and then we had our other meeting and then afterwards I apologized and then the personal attacks continued by. Really interesting me. And so how do we deal with someone that's attacking us verbal e he know you. Sometimes spouses do this with one another. I don't know if you've ever noticed no spouses in this group. I'm sure but sometimes you know you're always like this or you're always like that personal attack and say here is four categories of difficult people that we need to think through if someone's being stubborn. Maybe we need to listen. Maybe I'm really not hearing them. If they're being on trustworthy Maybe I need to put in systems for verification. If they are not listening. Maybe I need to tell them Look we need to sit down and we need to have a time we're both conversing one with another and if they're there for attacking us personally. Then perhaps I need to realize have I done something or is this this person's issue. How can I said ground rules for that kind of a conversation. Yeah just real quick on personal attacks. I think. It's tricky when you're on boards and you deal with these kind of issues I can think of a board I was on. And I made a comment about a policy change and you know anybody but on a board and you're like the only one who says something about a specific thing and you're like you hear crickets and you're thinking well this is not good. It was one of those and I said you know I don't personally and I shared my opinion about why I didn't think this board policy change was a good idea. And you know what I expected was that there might be somebody else who expressed a different position but what I got instead was. Well if you want and an attack on myself and on another organization that I sit on and how they perceived that organization worked. Therefore my criticism of how to change this organization was going to be a healthy one and the question then is what do you want to do. Well what was the purpose of that that dialogue was to open it up but the response what the response lead to it was like a cold blanket it was like Hey. Nobody's going to say anything even if they think it's wrong because what's going to happen. You know and I think is we're leaders on board. Even if we have strong opinions. It's important that we have an atmosphere where we can be strong but people can voice opposition because many people have died many organizations have failed because there's been an atmosphere that shut down the opportunity for people to dialogue and that's really important to underscore that as well that in the ability to have constructive conflict in an organization is really essential. You know again families Ministries Church is business is fine airplanes. I just there are so many examples for example the worst air disaster in history that happened in Tenerife little island. The disaster took place because the copilot was trying to tell the pilot they didn't have clearance for takeoff. They had been forced to land their fog settled and the pilot was like no we need to take off. We need to take off. We need to get in the air or we're going to be grounded and he was so convinced they needed to take off. He started going off the runway not realizing there was a Pan Am plane in the runway. He hit it and around four hundred fifty four people died. It's interesting the pilot who did that had written a manual on safety for flying. He was K.L. EMS chief in safety. Yet he was in a situation of pressure and the copilot wasn't being heard and sometimes in our organizations or Craig brings up this idea of this board somebody pounces on it and then there's this. Oh I guess I'm not going to say anything and that's a really unhealthy situation for a family for a board for a church for a business. The one thing I would say about that is we have an hour an opportunity to respond to a difficult person right because you're going to run into this. I know I run into it. And I believe the right response is to share with the person that we need to be able to have open dialogue and then to share your position. Do not let someone being a difficult person stifle a needed comment in relation to something that's important. On your board. So let's ask quickly here. And if you have difficult circumstances. Do you want to share. Yet you like hands went up like what you want to share with them but you have difficult circumstances just generally when you give us a hint where that it's time to mediate pretty much we're all going to focus on being in but the principles that we're going to give will be helpful to that about this matter of somebody attacking us personally or stick taking me personally. How do we separate our emotions from knowing what we should do in other words some of the things you talk about those are things we should do but we're so hurt and have such negative feelings and we're angry at that person for generating those feelings. How do we get ourselves feeling set aside and or supposed to do great question. And let's come to that in Milicz hold that that's an excellent question. Yes. As a parent I think when we're parents. We would like to tell something to our kids about our piñon about some positive things one of my kids who doesn't like to listen his very smart but he doesn't like to listen in this thing that is not that is in conflict we if whatever he wants. It's just about his opinion. Here's a nice great key it but I don't know what to do. OK so how do we navigate it when there is this maybe somebody is not listening to us. These are all all real good. How do you handle. If you are on a board where the leader of the board does not like conflict and they perceive anything brought up as a conflict because I mean there's always going to be differences of opinions and people see everything from a different but if the leader does not like conflict or does not believe in conflict. How and all they do is tell a town that's well yeah it's like well. Everything is conflict and they don't like conflict and so they just make it where nothing is dealt with Go. Well with something that could happen something that that would be good to have which I recommend which we recommend for all the ministries of R.C.I. is to have some kind of board training to raise the awareness of the board members as to what would be a good board practice and. So for example the O.C.I. board. You won't share this with anybody but the U.C.I. board in the past had a lot of dysfunction in it and there was a lot of stress in it and over the past ten years the boards really changed and part of that has been boarded cation. Where No it is essential for us to be able to communicate strongly disagree and respect one another and because that helps the organization move forward. And there is a hand in the back here just how I really like your idea of being able to communicate strongly but one of the questions is how do you communicate strongly and it not be perceived as you're an angry person. We're going to get to that in the in my grand gesture. We're going to have to. There's hand altering back there for men are going to shift gears a little bit. I happened to be on the committee with someone who's very opinionated and does not like for people to disagree. With him. And one meeting we were in this individual expressed an opinion that I disagreed with and I said so. And so the person began to explain his opinion and just kind of his his behavior escalated it just became more hostile to the point that it was it appeared to be bullying. And so I saw that the more of the conversation progress the worse it became and so I just stopped talking and just let it ride. So this person could you know calm down some. When the meeting was over I did say I'd like to have a conversation with you please I need to talk to you. And so. In the conversation in the private conversation just between the two of us. I explained that the conversation from his side came across as bullying intimidation and that kind of thing and I just explained. I want to walk in the. With you and I don't want us to have these kinds of differences because you know I will love you and I want to have a proper relationship with you. And so I just explain how I felt and so it really seemed to made a difference because we were able to relate to each other and to talk now in the better way. OK So let's think for a moment here about conflict conversations that might happen with somebody somebody that you were out for doing something wrong or you. Or you're disappointed in something in every conflict conversation. There are three levels in the conversation. There's what happened. How do I feel about what happened and how does this impact my identity. And so this this is important for us. So when we're thinking well what happened. Your perception and my perception of what happened to your perception and the difficult person's perception of what happened. Might be very different because we have different truth assumptions. So for example. If if my family is not five minutes early to an event where late that comes from my wife. And so there is a truth assumption there and what's that truth assumption. You've got to be early to be on time because there is this value there. Well somebody else may have a truth assumption that's very different their truth assumption maybe. Well I can show up ten minutes late to meet with you because we're friends and friends are flexible. So here we have two different truth assumptions where one's late one's there but there's different assumptions about what happened then in addition to true. Assumptions when we're thinking about what happened there are intention assumptions we are assuming what the other person is intending So if somebody is late that person is rude. They don't care. They're unprofessional. That's my intension assumption. Oftentimes when we focus on what happens we're trying to assign blame as will get there a minute then there is how do I feel about what happened. So the gentleman said someone says something and oftentimes I feel hurt or I feel angry. I feel ridiculed and then the question how does this impact my identity. What does it say about me. So for example when I had this other meeting with this gentleman who was attacking me personally. There's lots of questions about me. Well how am I as a leader how my you know in. Functioning here in this board Am I really socially totally socially inept because that was one of the critiques was all you care about is time you don't care about people as we were talking because I wanted to end the meeting and in the money hear the story. And so you know the the thrust came this is a flaw in you in me and so now there's this whole man and I really a failure and my a twirl leader and so these are questions that we think about when we are thinking about these three conversations if we're in a conflict. Conversation then we will have these kind of goals. What do I mean if if I'm in a conflict if I'm being antagonistic or feeling and agonise I'm then when I'm discussing what happened. My motivation is going to be to persuade the other person. To see things my way or to try to get them to admit that they were wrong. Now. One of my pet peeves is when somebody tells me something that's not completely true or not that bothers anybody else here we went to a restaurant and we reserved a particular table. It was my office staff we went to the restaurant we reserve the table and the there were people at the table that we had reserved and so then the manager said well that table is really not very nice. We have this table for you. Well but that table was round and we wanted to sit in a circle and talk to people and the manager simply says instead of simply saying hey I'm really sorry someone's at the table. I have to move you. He was giving me excuses which unfortunately hits me the wrong way and so I was you know like steam is coming out of my ears and my dear wife is like what are you so upset about. And it's like well if he would just say he was wrong it would be OK because then I would be right. You know and too often when we're in a complex situation something happened and we're talking to the person about what happened when we're in conflict. We want to persuade them that you're wrong or we want them to admit blame. That's not very healthy forests as we'll see them all. Right. So something that I think comes into play in dealing with difficult people is I actually believe there's a disproportional amount of difficult people in leadership and I think there's some elements of a leadership that calls for someone to be a little strong. And so I think we often run into this and will be on a board and I think I heard someone say hey you know I approach someone and they just seem like they're constantly defensive or attack back when. When I when I'm talking to them. When people are in leadership or when people are up front. A lot there's a certain amount of. I don't know what you want to call it but mostly it's adrenaline there's a certain amount of position that is developed and people get used to it. And so when it's questioned people can begin to believe that their identity depends on how good they are upfront and how much control they have in an organization. And I think on one side we have to recognize that and say OK. Sometimes I might actually need to deal with an issue that I'd like to and should be able to deal with in a board on the outside to begin with with that person one on one because I have to recognize that that person is going to feel their position threatened if I point out something that makes them lose face and look wrong in that in that setting I think also as leaders we need to be able to work through our positions and our identity not being connected because I believe our position is found in Christ. Whether we have a position or whether people see us as an authority or whether they see us up front. We need to be secure in Christ and so I think as leaders. If we're in those roles we need to think about that when we want to react to someone questioning our position or what feels like taking us out of something that we're used to being in losing control that we say Lord is that me just being used to position or is there really a problem there. So if get up or in a conflict situation. There is again there is what happened there is how I feel about what happened and if I'm in a conflict situation one or two things are going to happen. You know I could be trying to avoid my feeling keep them suppressed I'm not going to tell the person what my feelings are or I'm just going to let him have it. I'm going to blast them and my feelings are going to come out you know like an explosion and probably some of you have had that happen to you or done it. To others and lastly if I'm in a conflict situation I'm dealing with someone difficult when as could just said if I'm in leadership and my identity feels threatened my default is going to be to protect my image protect my identity. So again we have my wife and I have three children there. They're grown they're young adults and sometimes we would like them to do certain things a certain way because it reflects on us and when they don't then it's like how do we going to do it because. How does it impact me as a parent had it. How does it impact me as a leader as a pastor or whatever it is it's my identity and it's Greg brought out. It's important for us to realize where our identities really are grounded. So instead of conflict conversations we want to have learning conversations and that's really important is a really important aspect of dealing with difficult people we need to begin to have a mindset that moves away from just conflict to learning moving away from having absolute knowledge to being curious about someone else's situation. So for example there's a there's a board that I happen to be the chairman of and I get another world someplace another continent another not another continent really but just another world and there are people in the area of this particular organization who are communicating that all I am interested in is killing the ministry and stealing the assets well not stealing them personally. Well maybe they think that I'm not sure entirely but but it's there it's actually very current situation and this purse. Sin is going around and actually engaged in legal efforts and their whole focus is you know we need to get O.C.I. out of this and we need to get Grabner out of this because all he wants to do is kill this thing. And so when I hear that. Well how would you respond if you heard that. So when I first heard it. My Like reaction is OK well forget it we're not going to help you anymore you're on your own you know whatever. It's like OK just calm down. Take a deep breath and then I began to think OK what is it that this guy thinks that's brought him to that situation trying to move from a conflict situation to curiosity. To beginning to wonder. Oh what's going on in his mind what impact is what is impacted his life. What is he heard you know what have people told him because I've never really met the person. So when we're in a learning conversation we want to have different goals. When we're talking with someone about what happened. And what happened. Somebody said this about you. The board chairman was rude. The pastor was insensitive your spouse told you you really shouldn't have any more ice cream because you're gaining weight. You know there are all sorts of things come about. So what happened when we're in a learning conversation we're not trying to persuade or assign blame. We want to have mutual understanding. We want to try to approach. What happened from the point of view of what can we learn about this together. How can we dialogue about this together. How can we both see what we contributed to bring this about you know to go back to my example of the individual is attacking me. OK I can see that that I made a contribution to this by cutting the meeting off quickly and hurting this individual's feelings and giving this individual the impression that I really didn't care about that person as an individual which wasn't true. I highly value the person a lot. But we could have had this conversation in a learning together what. What did we both do to contribute this unfortunately once that happened I was in the mindset of you know you need to apologize. I mean I apologized I said Look I'm really sorry. And then the person just attacked me more and I was like you know you need to apologize. Well. You know. Actually there's something in the book not a blessings on that. Sorry forgot the page where it actually talks about when people have wronged us. She says something like it is their duty. No doubt to apologize to us but we should not withhold forgiveness before they've apologized. We should have an attitude of forgiveness to them first and think there's something related to the gospel about that. You know that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Not counting their trespasses against them. So again this is an important mindset. Yeah I totally agree with that I what I've seen is areas where I've gotten into conflict and someone maybe has has you know attacked you or you've been in a situation where they've done you wrong and then you know we retaliate in a small way and then we have a problem because you say I want it to be resolved by them fixing this great wrong that they have done. The problem is they also recognize the wrong that I've done. And oftentimes I believe we can pave the way to wrongs being righted by making a right. Even minor things that we've done to contribute to a situation that might have led to a conflict because if we acknowledge our. Guilt and then leave it there and we don't try to dig out then some reaction from them. People don't come and say you know what. And then they're free to acknowledge and deal with the issues that they contributed to that conflict. Then again where our in a learning conversation we want to or dress our feelings without including judgement to that person. So we want to be able to tell somebody you know this circumstance made me feel this way. I'm sure I did something to make you feel that way to be open with our feelings again without judgment because we're not trying to assign blame. We're trying to have a learning conversation and then of course the question about our identity. This is of course vital for us is that we need to realize that our identity is grounded in Jesus Christ. There's one person on this planet that claims infallibility Who is that. And no Jesus isn't here now the pope. You know we claims infallibility at least when he speaks ex cathedra out of the throne from when he's sitting on the the papal throne. We don't believe in infallibility is that correct. Right. So then why do we act as though we need to be infallible. As though when we've made a mistake. It threatens our identity and really that's an important thing for us that we're not infallible we are going to make mistakes and so again it's very important for us we will make mistakes. We will have conflict our identity does not to be threatened but I would encourage you with some kind of a difficult situation you're in is to begin to think through these levels OK So what happened. How do I feel about what happened and how does this impact who I am. It's very it's very important. So again as I said when we think about what happened. We often time. Are involved with these truth assumptions intention is some sins and this is really really bad to me just says something about intention assumptions as well or further. If you're driving someplace and you're in a hurry and you cut somebody off. What does that say about you if you're rude. But how do you feel about what you did you guilty. OK So as some of us just don't feel guilty when we do that as drivers but I'm glad that you do. OK. Really how. King of the road usually sometimes if we're late for something and we're rude to somebody will say well I'm late. And that's my rationale. Now if somebody does the same thing to us then what. Then you know they're not only rude. They're aggressive they're rude they're an idiot. You know take away their license take away their license but we begin to impute in much more to them than when we do it. You know you know we tend to excuse our actions much easier than other people's actions. C.S. Lewis talked about this in one of his books where he discusses the idea of the the statement where it says that Christ that we should love the sinner and hate the sin you've heard that right. And so C.S. Lewis discusses that and you know is it really possible to love the sinner and hate the sin and as he's writing he talks about. Well no what we do is we love the sin and we end up hating the sinner. Except. When it's us when it's us we're very good at loving the sinner and. You know not worrying about this and you know hating the same perhaps we make that kind of separation but for other people we don't. And so we generally attribute more evil to people's motives or actions or their persons when they do something. Here's a quotation from X. the Apostles page three hundred nineteen. I love Christ like love places the most favorable construction on the Moet is us. And what acts about there's no interstate it's an emergency for Christ like love places the most favorable assumptions on the acts and motives of others. If we can learn anything about dealing with difficult people number one this is when it needs to be that rare other then take that difficult person and I mean that guy is just. We need to be can to think OK what's going on here in this person's life. What is it. That's happening here. I also think in this we also sometimes assign the difficult status to people we don't understand because they have a different personality than us. I can think of an instance when I first began working I was working in a real estate office and somebody that I worked with closely. Was very detail oriented had a very opposite personality from from from who I am and I thoroughly made her mad and she thoroughly made me mad. And I thought this person is impossible to work with and she thought this guy is the most disorganized. You know doesn't keep his paperwork in order and she you know. And so we had this opposite polar issue. And over time as I began to learn a little bit about personalities and how to handle personalities. It ended up the time we left that we were best of friends we were actually. Very good workers together because we actually recognized that we needed the strengths of the other that initially annoyed us. And so I think in in this we have we have to think about personality as it comes through as well I can think of another instance that plays actual a little bit along this line here as well where I went went out and I would selling houses so I was out showing a gentleman houses and I mean this guy was hardcore I mean he'd look at houses every night we'd go out and show him houses. And the next day we got to show him houses and this was like three weeks like four days a week we were looking at houses and finally I'm thinking this guy. I think he just likes to look at houses for fun and one day I asked him I said well he would always go into the living room and look around and then he would leave like we would even look at the whole house and this is strange and so I finally said Well. What are you looking for you as well I've got a sixty inch big screen T.V. and I have to make sure they'll fix I'm not going to sell my T.V. because it was like twelve thousand dollars or something when they were really expensive and so all of a sudden I realized he wasn't just being difficult. There was actually something else that if I had been curious earlier we could have avoided many nights out looking at houses. And that was a lesson for me to think Hey. Sometimes our problems are just a lack of curiosity. And I think with motives. You know my motive. We're going to begin to think this guy just is a lonely old guy who just wants to look at houses. It actually wasn't the case at all. I was assigned to him something that wasn't the case he had a practical reason even though I was so big on it for his decision making. Now again just carry out you know this is not an excuse to enable abuse of any kind. There are individuals that need to be confronted. But generally as we're going through life and we're in counting difficult people we need OK how can I put the best construction on their motives first. Then of course again you know how do I feel about what happened. So as I said earlier if I'm not aware of what. I'm feeling or if I'm trying to keep my feelings out of the conversation. I'm really going to fail. So my feelings are going to bleed into this conversation somehow and and so it's important for us to be able to tell somebody. If the Conlin me say this if the conversation is worth the effort and some of them aren't some you know somebody random person says something about you or somebody having a bad day you can just blow it off but if it's worth being in gauged in how you're feeling about what took place really can be the heart of the conversation. Because what happened. Well that's one thing. How both of us are viewing what happened is entirely different and we need to get and think through this you know. And so a question that I would ask you is when you're dealing with difficult people. Where do your feelings hide. You know. Where do you try to stuff your feelings. I could say that many years ago I was working as a chaplain at a hospital and was for a class for a pastoral class and at the end of every session on the floor. I had to sit with a mentor chaplain and go through it and that particular day was very trying for me because it seemed like everybody I was visiting was dying. And one woman in particular had ovarian cancer ovarian cancer is about ninety four ninety five percent. It was anyway fatal at that time she had a ten year old boy he was about to lose her mother my dad died when I was ten and so you know they're all these emotions coming in here and as I was talking to the to the senior chaplain I went into the his office and I had my Bible like in my back pocket you know pocket Bible and as I sat down I was like really having this hard time getting it out of my back pocket it was stuck in there and as we were talking about this. We were talking about this family and I was talking about the woman and the boy and then the chaplain said to me. Well what about your feelings. I don't like what I mean what about my feelings and he was like well it seems like your feelings are stuck just like your bible stuck in your back pocket you can't get it out and just was like yeah OK I've got feelings about this as well. Relating back obviously to my my father's death and so Question Where do your feelings hide in difficult conversations. How do you relate to them. Ministry of healing they forty five then another wonderful thought we should not allow our feelings to be easily wounded. We are to live not to guard our feelings or our reputation but to save souls. This does not mean your feelings will not be hurt. OK. But we need to realize that when they're being hurt. Something's happening in this conversation. Somebody is being aggressive. They're being difficult they're being they're not listening your feelings are there but we need to realize OK My feelings are not paramount winning souls and so how can I have a conversation with somebody. How can I have a learning conversation with somebody in which I communicate my feelings to down. And I also ask what their feelings are like What made you feel this way that you said this and if I had been wiser at the time when this particular individual was attacking me personally I could have asked the question to that. Well how did I make you feel when I closed the meeting and find out what was the trigger in them that caused them to attack me. Fortunately I didn't I just went into my defensive posture mode. And so again. How does this impact my ID entity. When we're in conflict again there's all these questions about who we are what does this say about me personally. There's questions about our culprits and see here. So OK a question for you. Is anybody here super company. Don't really feel like you need to be super competent competent you know you can do everything you're wonderful mother and you've got everything organized and. Yeah I read I was I got one super competent person. I really think that probably most of you feel that your competence level is above average. Maybe I should ask that question how many of you are above average competency. That's a little less threatening. And more than some of you raise your hands there. If we think we're like this really competent person and then we get negative feedback what does it do. US like oh. I mean if myself my sense of who I am is connected to my competence if it's like it's just the other day my wife and I are having a conversation. One of the things I do in my spare time is I pastor a church in Tennessee. And and so I don't have that much spare time so I don't do that. Well at it and so my wife was who has reminded me of the list of people that need to be visited and she's reminded me of this. How many times. Sweetie. She's reminding me of this a lot and every time she does. There's a feeling in my stomach. No she's not being difficult. She's being concerned about the visitation which is a totally appropriate thing but we were talking about this presentation we talked about this whole thing I said you know when you ask me that question what about the visitation. My stomach feels tight because my identity as a pastor is being touched. I'm not doing a good job as a pastor because I'm not visiting all these people. I realize I don't have the time to do that or I should realize that. But we need some system in place there. So again for you. You know when your feelings are being touched you need to think through again. How is it. It's impacting me as a parent with my child and coworker in an organization's you know sometimes we go from these extremes I'm super competent to I'm the world's biggest failure anybody like go back and forth between those two and you know we're well we're not we're not super competent and we're not the world's biggest failure. We begin to think you know my really a good person and my worthy of being loved. But I really the Gospel should answer all those questions for us and that we are very needy individuals but God has loved us from the foundation of the world even before we came into this world isn't that amazing. Fusions chapter one that God has chosen us in Christ from the foundation of the world and even before we've done anything good or bad. God knows all about us and he says no no I've chosen you. So our identity there needs to be really firm kolache in chapter two verse ten tells us you are complete in him. This is really essential for us. To be able to enter into different aspects of conversations to move from certainty to curiosity what do I mean by that something happens. We are certain we know what happened. Well do we really know what happened. We know our view of what happened. The person was late the person was rude the person you know that me that person is stubborn or positional the person didn't listen. I think an example of this it wasn't too long ago I was sitting with some folks and they were talking about different stories about things they had done. And they began to share with me about this organization. And this thing that happened at this organization and they were adamant about how terrible it was that they didn't realize is that I was there when this happened I was on the board when the certain things happened and I actually knew what. It happened. And it was really fascinating because the story that they painted I thought Man I'd be upset too. You know but their perspective was an honest perspective it was a perspective that was second hand but the difference between that and the reality. Were night and day and I think that's an interesting thing they could if they had demonstrated a little more curiosity. They probably could have come up to a situation in a more constructive way. So I think for all of us D.C. to hear something and then become adamant as if it was fact we knew first hand and it can put us in the difficult person category so yes and you've all had something happen somebody tells you what a church member did or something else and then we react in reform reacting. We need to become curious but really. Really what happened there. Rather than going to blaming trying to learn what information does this person have you know rather than why are they so irrational Why are they so rude. Why are they so careless or callus what's their perspective what's going on with them. Is an interesting thing that happened is it anybody who sits on a board with me knows that I have a VERY MUCH less than a poker face and so it's difficult for me with a system interruption here he is not the only one that has less than a poker face. There's been plenty of times around with that have a paper bag over my head in board meetings and people can see what was going on so that you know if you sit across the table. It can be an interesting experience for both of us but it and so we try to you know help it but it sometimes doesn't work well. One time we were on a conference call and I also have this problem that I will somebody will bring something up and I don't agree with it and I want to respond you know I don't want to wait for somebody else to talk I'm going to get the next word in about it because they're tough only wrong. And so you know that happens unfortunately sometimes frequently and so we want to. That happens with. Great frequency and so. So we're on this conference call and I didn't do that. So we got off the conference calls even those you were awfully quiet I said yeah my headset wasn't working I couldn't get it to turn on so I could talk. And it was actually great the board went well and they came to a conclusion and it was wonderful and so we have now developed this thing will say well maybe you know unplug the headset and it's a good mechanism. In a way that's kind of insider for us to remind each other that you know maybe I need to back out a little bit and and let the thing work out and I think in curiosity situation sometimes you know delaying our response allows us time to really know what's going on and to let motion be controlled by reason and I need that. So to get a different perspective to kind of get into this curiosity mind spat. It's very difficult. It's clearly difficult when we're in the middle of something as I said earlier with Greg and I just before the session had two different difficult circumstances that we were in so we're all learning this but as we're trying to move to these kind of learning conversations and dealing with difficult people we want to different perspective. And sometimes it's helpful to get what we call the third story or the third point of view. And that would be to ask what would it look like if an outsider were describing what was going on between you and the difficult person or the two of you you know how would an outsider describe it. And if you could go to a person the person you're having a difficult time with and come to them say well you know I'd like to have this conversation. Let's see what we can agree about with what took place and how we feel about it how it impacts us. And then try to simply without impugning motives to people or trying to persuade or trying to give blame simply talk about it from this third. Side of the story this third perspective how would an observer describe what was happening simply you know if you can just look at it that way. It's a really important thing to begin to work with somebody that's being difficult. And we see this. I think a fair amount through what I would call projection. You see it in relationships with spouses you see it in relationships with people if you have a long history so on a board for a long time. You can react to something that happens that's actually fairly reasonable in an unreasonable way because you have a history of other things that have happened and this is just one more of those things even when it's not. I think it's important for us to ask the Lord to give us wisdom to not project and that's where that looking from a third person with the third person have any context the answer is no no. Sometimes we need context but we need to weigh it out and make sure we're not just reacting and putting someone in a box and saying they can't grow. They can't be different. This is just one more of those who really want to underscore that oftentimes in conflict the conflict arises because we have other emotional connections. You know it's the way my spouse looks at me or it's the way I look at my children or it's the raid that person always asks those questions and so you know immediately something happens and then there's this response which usually is larger than what the issue is because we have all this background in the conflict and again if we're going to kind of diagram conflict. You know there's the issue of whatever it is. Then there is all this ancillary stuff that comes out of it is you know what I did for supper where they for lunch. How my feeling and my tired. You know who's on the other side of the story. I mean is there room to AAT is it too crowded. Is it too cold. There's all these other issues in conflict is the meeting going on too long and to be going to peel that away to try to get to the core is real. Helpful. So if you have a difficult person and you want to have a learning conversation. You don't want to be squawking at them like the two penguins are here. You really want to have this dialogue with them. You first need to realize OK this is really worth my time and effort. Not all conversations are sometimes you just need to let it slide. Other times most times it is worth it and then to approach the person and try to say well let's have this kind of a let's describe this from the third view don't begin from your viewpoint don't begin from their viewpoint come from the third view now and then try to work through John what happened. How do I feel and how does it impact me. I'm can guarantee you that if you try this. Not every conversation will go smoothly. OK I guarantee that not every conversation will go smoothly because as you enter into it the other person is going to be presenting their point of view and so sometimes you have to say well yes I hear you. Let's consider it this way and keep moving being persistent with the person to try to get them to really see you're not blaming you're not trying to persuade your kind to work together to find a solution. Now there are we could say exceptions to this that are really the first exception to this which really isn't is when you're right. OK You know what happened and you know they're wrong and when you have that mindset. It's going to be very difficult to have a learning conversation and you have but there's no there's nothing to discuss here. They're wrong. They need to apologize. They have to learn right let me recommend to you know that even when you're right that's not what the conversation is about conversation here isn't about who's right and wrong conversation is about. How can I. How can we find a common solution. How can we work together. How can I draw closer to you. How can I have a more Christ like influence in your life now may come out or you may go away thinking that you're right. But there again there needs to be perspective. So that the show of you can come together to a good solution that I like to compare it to do I want to win or do I want God's plan to win begin to scenarios whether it's on a board whether it's it's in a conflict and human nature becomes competitive and says no you know I'm going to be right I want to have the last say I want to and we end up in this situation and and then we lose the objective is that what if I was wrong. Do I want God's plan or do I just want to win. I kind of compare it to do I want to have character or do I want conquest. And I need to think about that you know our you know our situations that we deal with. So it's our excellent exhaust that question why are you feeling this way. What's the circumstance behind it. Then coming from a learning perspective. So one exception is when I'm right but it's not really exception. The other exception sometimes we think is when I have to give bad news. When I need to fire somebody and you don't let somebody go which that happens in organizations. You can still have a learning conversation. You can still approach it with curiosity and be firm. So if there's a person that's untrustworthy for example or stubborn in positional and they won't move and you come to the place that this person needs to leave the organization. You need to have that conversation but it can still be a learning conversation you can still ask what their perspective is here their viewpoint and then say Well I think you're you. Yeah. This needs to. A place. This needs to follow as well. So let's shift Ezri a kind of draw to a close here. So how not to be difficult people. This is probably important as well. And so how not to be a difficult person first thing here is to begin to ask ourselves what is my contribution to this circumstance. What's my contribution to this problem. Have I missed communicated am I under approachable. Do I avoid conflict. What's my contribution to this as Craig alluded to earlier we need to think through you know what are the personalities involved and there's a instrument that we used to Dosia with some of our member ministries. It's a workplace personality profile where everybody fills them out and then we look at how the team fits together as well where we can see how some people like conflict and whether people don't. Some people are visionary other people are very practical. Some people are very organized. Some people are very disorganized. Not that he's organized. Some people are you know in that whole situation and just realize OK these are personality issues and they're not necessarily character flaws. As Greg mentioned earlier sometimes we need to learn to mute the headset. And just not say something. OK We just need to like OK I need to not speak what did you say Swifty here slow to speak slow to rap is that what you're saying that's another thing my wife tells me all the time as S.S. dear swift slow to hear. So to speak. Yes that's a church or. Something else here. This isn't offensive to anybody is using your poker chips. But I mean by there's just no straight in for us if you are in a in a board meeting for example certain circumstance. It's important for. To realize that certain of us with our personalities and our expressions can be domineering in a board. Perhaps you've encountered that were one or two people just want to control the circumstance. Well it's helpful to kind of communicate to the board and say look in the way we're going to operate. Everybody has imaginary stack of poker chips and every time you speak you're putting one in and when you're out of poker chips. You're done talking. And so you need to help us think through Look everybody's time's valuable I don't want to monocular monopolize this conversation. I want to be sensitive to the way other people feel. And lastly this is another in-house expression it's called peeling in our inch. I have a hard time peeling our inches very blunt with you because you know you start peeling them and then your finger gets in the navel part and then the G.'s comes down so I get I used to get frustrated at peeling our inches and I would just cut them. So we were traveling my family and I were in Israel and my son saw this and he goes Dad what is your problem. This is how you peel an orange be patient and he starts peeling the orange and he gave me like ten oranges he said nine I want you to peel every one of these are just and so you know this whole thing about peeling an orange slowly so I don't get to first trade with him and so now it's kind of this in-house conversation when one of us is getting intense the other one simply says it's time to be a nurse and we just you know pause and think through. So you should think of some in-house things for yourself that perhaps your spouse can say or your friends can say your coworkers can say to you as well. OK you know just one last thing we haven't gotten to get into as much is is workplace conflict and dealing with physicians we talk a little bit about it in board settings. But it's very important not to avoid workplace conflict if you're in a leadership position we've seen some. Instances where organizations have had the feeling that something's not going to work out anybody been in a workplace and you had a work coworker or you had a an employee or someone working in you're like you know in your heart in your stomach. This isn't going to turn out well but you don't want to deal with it. Anybody been in that situation all yeah see lots of us have and the temptation is to extend the time period and either put it off the hope it will go away or hope that it will manifest itself a little more so it's easier to deal with recently an organization is dealing with a situation like this they had someone who is in a leadership position of a department in a strong personality and they went through the process saying hey we're going to have to we're clearly going to have to let this person go but we were just don't want to deal with it yet. We want to let it manifest itself a little bit more. And they went through that process well they also had in that department some really good workers. They also had somebody they thought this is a good person to replace the person who is probably going to have to leave but by taking too much time by procrastinating the good people in the team said we can't take this anymore and they left the person who was going to actually replace the person they left in the very end the person who they wanted to leave left the problem was they had nobody left at all and I think that's really important for us not to avoid conflict so much that we're not nearly willing to deal with an issue because if you let problems stay in their in their current position they grow and they actually can lead to systemic damage to the organizations that are. OK Well thank you for your time our time is up. Let's bear heads together forward prayer as we close Father in heaven. Thank you for your grace. Please help us teach us each one again. May our identity be firmly rooted in Jesus Christ that we could enter into conversations with others from a learning perspective. Give us wisdom and guidance teach us Lord to draw close to those that has been earlier. Thank you Jesus. This medio was produced by audio verse forty S avenues Lehmann's services and industries. If you would like to learn more about please visit the site that is or if you would like to do this for free online service Visit W W W body averse.

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