Recently, I received an article from Dan Reiland, The Pastor’s Coach who discussed dealing with difficult people. If we have been involved in any type of leadership, you have dealt with difficult people. They make projects hard to launch, continue or complete. Many times, the leadership team must turn their focus and some of their energy towards dealing with or working around a difficult person.
Here are a few tips sited by Dan Reiland in dealing with difficult people:
- Difficult isn’t a disease.
Many times we want to pull back or avoid a difficult person. This may seem to go against our natural bend, but it is the responsibility of the leader to work through the difficulty. Many times a difficult person, may say some things that the leader needs to hear (but may not want to).
2. Difficult may be a helpful voice.
It takes some time to accept that a difficult (different) voice can bring some fresh ideas to the meeting. Discussion with those who disagree with us can bring new ideas, different solutions or a fresh perspective. This can help us improve as leaders and do a better job leading the team.
3. Uncover what is underneath.
A difficult person that is persistently hard and challenging, maybe need some conversations at a personal level. In the church world, it does seem like issues of trust, control and personal hurts are common. In walking to a new position, I had to help the leaders heal and get to a place where they could trust me and not throw up their guard, avoid personal pain.
4. Find hidden gold.
A key part of leadership and team building is chemistry. What someone may find enjoyable another person may find annoying. It is what makes working with people so challenging. Instead of focusing on the differences, and how difficult they are instead focus on their abilities. It is their gifts and talents “gold” that they bring to the team that can help. It is important that the leader focus on the “gold” and not only on the difficulty.
5. Establish boundaries and set your sights on common ground.
Boundaries begin where we set that we are headed in the same direction. It is okay to disagree, to express it, even try to convince me as the leader to take a different course of action. But when the meeting is done, we must be headed in a same direction. If this person has an agenda that is separate from the vision of the church, then the importance of boundaries cannot be overstated.
Difficult people are part of leading the team / church / project. God uses difficult people to make us better leaders and to smooth out our own rough edges. Despite the difficult people, productive progress is possible.
Original article from Dan Reiland, see other Pastor’s Coach articles here. Or sign up for his email updates. Original article from Dan Reiland, The Pastor’s Coach: Loving and Leading Difficult People (May 2015, Issue 1).