Dealing with difficult people
There are two ways of getting the same result: being mean and being gentle. Perhaps you will think, “What’s new? That is obvious.” It is. Even so, not everyone thinks about it.
This matters a great deal, even from a religious perspective, for one is the habit of the children of God, and the other is the habit of worldly people. In any area of our life, we can get as much when we are mean to others as we do when we are kind.
At home, parents can be mean and get their children do what they want. But when they do, their children are not obedient — they are simply subject to an imposition. On the other hand, when a parent knows how to ask for something kindly, the result is the same, but it is done out of obedience.
It is better to be kind
The same applies anywhere: the way a teacher treats her students; the way a superior treats his employees; the way a physician treats his patients; they way a customer treats the waiter, the bank teller, the post office clerk. All of us can get the same by being kind or by being mean to others.
Maybe someone will reply, “Yeah, sure. You obviously don’t know my kids!” That can be true. But I have two sons and know from experience that I can get them to do anything either by being mean to them or by being kind. And I am certain that if I am gentle to my kids, the peace at home is a given. I am also a son and a husband myself, as well as an employee who reports to his superiors — I know well that, even if I produce the same results, my performance is much better when I am treated with kindness than when someone intends to be harsh.
Whoever believes that the only possible way to get anything is by being mean — by being imperative, raising the voice, demanding instead of requesting, humiliating others, threatening them, being impatient, and expressing constant dissatisfaction — is far from behaving like a child of God. Instead, such a behavior is typical of someone who has fallen captive to egoism. It is important then to remember St. John of the Cross’ maxim, “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”
One drop of sweet honey
St. John of the Cross was so right. You can get more with one drop of sweet honey than you do with a bucket of bitter gall. Not only when someone has some degree of superiority above others, like a parent to his children, a boss to his employees, or a teacher to his pupils. The same applies among peers: husband and wife, siblings, coworkers. When people are unwilling to collaborate and even become difficult to deal with, where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.
Certainly, if someone becomes aggressive or violent, it is prudent to stay away. But when we deal with a difficult person who refuses to collaborate, it is always convenient to smile, be kind, and say, “please.” As we ask, so we receive. And as such, whoever puts love wherever there is no love, will always find love in return.
Be passionate about our faith!
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - November 2018