We’ve said that difficult people are everywhere because every person on the planet has experienced difficulty and brokenness. But some people tend to be more difficult for us to relate to than others. So how do you make peace with the difficult people in your life?
First, you must find common ground with people. As Mr. Fred Rogers said, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”
We live in a highly reactionary and volatile age. We are a generation of protesters and counter-protesters. And granted, there is certainly a time to protest, but we see far too many images of people in nasty confrontations with other people based on a single ideological difference. They are strangers with no knowledge of the background or the pain or the viewpoints of the other.
Getting to know people – how they think, why they think the way they think, and why they act out their innermost beliefs about themselves and their world – is the first step in relating to difficult people.
Peter put it this way…
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
~ 1 Peter 3:8 NIV
And by “like-minded,” Peter isn’t challenging us to all think alike. Plenty of people agree on things that are wrong. He’s actually challenging us to be agreeable and to seek rapport with one another. Rapport is the gateway into a new relationship with someone we didn’t know before, and relationships are where real change happens.
You’re going to see complete strangers do and say things in the next few days that make little or no sense to you at all. Decide, before assessing the spiritual condition of their heart, to get to know something about them. You can’t say you’ve loved them until you do.