How do you deal with difficult people? Dealing with family members or those at work who are rude or hard to be around can be difficult. In this post, we are going to Bible to see what God says about how to handle difficult people. #difficultpeople #overcoming #relationships

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How do you deal with difficult people? Although it's apart of life it isn't always easy to navigate. Here are some tips on how to deal with difficult people.

Can I be transparent with you for a moment?

I’m not the best at dealing with difficult people.

When someone is curt or snappy, I can tend to get a little defensive.

Ok, a lot defensive.

Depending on the extremity of their attitude, I usually leave aggravated or crying. Although I don’t love being in these situations, sometimes they are simply unavoidable.

Recently I had to  “deal” with someone, who can be a little rough around the edges. This person is very valuable to me, has a wonderful heart, but honestly—can be very difficult at times.

This is not a relationship that I am willing to give up on, so I was at a loss for how to handle this person. I wanted to say some not so nice things, but I truly didn’t want to cause damage to the relationship.

This person has had lots of damaged relationships.

I was also very aware, that I can be a difficult person to deal with at times, so I wanted to respond in a manner in which I would want to be treated.  I wondered, How can I handle this difficult person with care? After leaving the situation, I began reading my Bible and right smack in the middle of my reading I saw this scripture:

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:26-31 NLT (bold emphasis mine)

Specific words began to jump out at me—love, do good, bless, pray, give—God had given me an answer to my question.

The truth is….hurting people hurt others.

They are difficult because of hurts.

If someone was hurting due to a loss, we would follow this rule without hesitation.

Yet, when the hurts are not so glaring, we can tend to want to attack, argue with or abandon the person. To help us navigate these relationships, God has given us a guideline to deal with those that are difficult to handle.

How do you deal with difficult people? Dealing with family members or those at work who are rude or hard to be around can be difficult. In this post, we are going to Bible to see what God says about how to handle difficult people. #difficultpeople #overcoming #relationships

How do you Deal with Difficult People in a Biblical Way?

Love them

We’ve all heard love your neighbor as yourself. But what does it really mean to love our neighbor?

The word love here is agapao (Strongs #G25).  It actually means to to love by choice and is an act of the will, or unconditional love.

Interestingly enough it’s the same word used for love in John 3:16, where it says, “God so loved the world”.

Wow, that was eye opening!

In essence, God is telling us, “Regardless of what they say, what they do, how you feel or don’t feel….I want you to love them the way I love you.”

Do good to them

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We’ve all heard this, right?

How can we be good to someone who is difficult?

The word good in Strongs #G2570 means well. We’ve heard that definition before.

However, another definition emerged that I found very interesting.

It also means “rightly, so that there shall be no room for shame.” Being an adverb, it’s commonly joined with verbs of speaking.

Again, God is reminding us to watch what we say about this person! We don’t want to say something that later we will regret.

Bless them

I used to think “blessing our enemies” meant to ask God to bless them.

When I would get aggravated with someone and I was convicted of where my heart was going, I would ask the Lord to bless them.

Yet, as I reread this passage I realized that I was confusing blessing with praying.

Bless in this passage is the word eulogeo (Strongs #2127). It comes from the words well and speech.

So to bless means to speak well of the person.

I must say, that’s a whole new level of blessing!

Many times we will ask God to bless someone that irritates us and then go and tell our friends what they did and how horrible they are.

Childish, I know.

But I would venture to say that we’ve all done it at times.

We naturally want support from our friends and in turn, rally them against the person so that we feel like we are supported or at least that our feelings are.

Remember the cliché, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”?

Here we are asked to go to another level of maturity and actually speak well of the person, not just withhold the negative.

Pray for them

Many times my first instinct is to retaliate against someone who is difficult.

When I know that’s not an option, I will pray for them, but usually with hesitation.

However, when I read this scripture again, I saw some wisdom in waiting to pray for them right away.

I am a firm believer that God strategically puts things in the Bible. After all, He is a God of order.  As I began to look at the order of Jesus’ words I found it interesting that He tells us to love them,  be good to them, bless them and then pray for them.

If we have done these other things first, by the time we do pray for them, there is a good chance our hearts would have changed towards them. If we were to pray for this difficult person first, there is a the probability that we would do it begrudgingly and negate our prayers with negative comments about them afterwards.

Are you struggling in a friendship, your marriage or another relationship? Forgiveness can be hard when the hurt is deep. In this resource you'll find scriptures on forgiveness to study, prayer, a bible verse reading plan, forgiveness worksheet and more! Don't let unforgiveness hold you back from God's best in your life! #forgiveness #forgive #forgiven #bibleverse #bible #scripture

Give to them

Giving to someone who is difficult to be around seems like an odd thing to do, right?

When I give someone a gift, it is meant be a blessing.  And that’s not easy to do.

So what are we giving?

I think for this part it is so important to be “in tune” with God, to really seek Him on what to give.

Why? Because He knows what they need. (Reminding myself it’s not about me!) Perhaps it’s forgiveness, grace, kindness, understanding or it could be an actual gift.

Yes, I said an actual gift.

When you receive a gift, you rarely think, “What a mean person! Why would they give me a gift?”

We may feel surprised and question motives, but if someone were doing the things mentioned above, their motives are presented pure, right?

Also, the bible tells us that “Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!” (Proverbs 18:16).

It opens doors for them to be healed and for us to be blessed.

After giving us the layout for how to handle difficult people, Jesus shows us the promise for our obedience:

“Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:35 NLT

Are you dealing with difficult people in your life?

Is God speaking things for you to do that could bring healing to not just to the person involved, but for the relationship itself?

Friend, the things God asks us to do are not always easy.

But they are fruitful.

As we step out and do what He’s asked us to do, we will experience relationships at a whole new level.

Can we pray together?

Father, we thank you that you give us direction in our relationships. Thank you for showing us how to deal with those who are hurting. Give us the grace to apply these principles in our lives. Help us to see difficult people the way you see them. Lord, we admit that sometimes we may be that difficult person. Show us how to be more like You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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75 Comments

  1. My pastor says that you will know when you have forgiven someone when you can truly pray for them. Goes right along with what you said here. I struggle with difficult people to so your post was helpful. thanks

    1. I’m so glad it was helpful, Karen! Just as I write this, I’m having to walk it out. Have a great week!

  2. This is one of my biggest struggles! I always want to give snarky comebacks or jabs, but I have learned to harness this (most of the time) and it has made a huge impact on my life. I have had people ask me why I am so forgiving to people who have treated me poorly and my response is very similar to the words you use here. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Jessica! I am right there with you on the response I want to give! God’s way is definitely not the way of the world. Usually if it feels good to my flesh, it’s not what God wants me to do. Thanks for visiting today!

    2. Hey Jessica, I read your blog and tried to post, but it blocked it and said it was spam! I loved it though… Jesus Calling for Kids is one of our favorites!

  3. As a matter of fact yes! Yes I am dealing with a difficult relationship right now. It’s so exhausting. Thank you so much for this post Alica! It was very timely.

    1. For me too, Shannon!! Right after I write this, don’t you know I’m dealing with a difficult person. Having to practice what I preach. So glad you stopped by!

  4. THis is a very important message. My mom (now in heaven) could be very difficult at times. We learned though. I set boundaries. I’m visiting you from Crystal’s today (#79).

    1. Thanks, Susan! You are right, boundaries are so important when dealing with difficult people! Thanks for visiting!

  5. I can’t say I’ve ever taken notes when reading a blog, but I did today. I loved how you highlighted each word and broke down the meaning. A beautiful teaching that goes straight to dealing with the motive of the heart. I’ll be sharing this today. Visiting from #coffeeforyourheart 🙂

    1. Thanks, Angela! This is one I know I’ll have to keep practicing! Thanks so much for visiting today!

  6. Man, can I relate. I struggle when people aren’t loving and warm toward me. One day in prayer I really began to realize when people are snappy toward me it is very rarely about me and is instead more about their wounds, struggles, and warfare. Realizing this really freed me up to try not to take it so personally. Do I still struggle? Uhh…duh, haha. But I feel like God showing me that truth really helps me heap grace upon grace on people, especially when they aren’t showering me with rainbows and glitter! 🙂 Such a great post!

    1. I know that feeling Kylie! It’s so hard to not take it personal! But seeing them the way God sees them does help us to have compassion, doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great week!

  7. So glad you shared this- it’s an area I really need to focus on. Difficult people challenge me so much!

    1. Me too, Keri! Confrontation and difficulties are not my favorite things! Thanks for stopping by today!

  8. Visiting from Crystal’s, and the timing was perfect as I had an extremely difficult student to deal with today. This helps me exhale and refocus! Thanks:) I would love for you to share on Fresh Market Friday Link-up because this message is all about being intentional!

    1. Thanks Crystal! I will be sure to check out that link up! Thanks for telling me about it. Have a great week!

  9. Stephanie says:

    I am not normally one to be bothered by difficult people, only every so often, but there have been 2 people I’ve especially struggled with lately with a difficult time overcoming. My ex is the hardest one, because my son has been emulating his father and not in a good way. While married for 12yrs, he was mentally/emotionally/verbally abusive, and now my teenager’s escalating problems are resurfacing all my old wounds, not to mention I have to look and speak with him during our son’s counseling sessions. It’s been causing me immense emotional turmoil! So, THANK YOU for sharing this! I knew I needed to do something different! This is definitely something I can work on & now I know where to start!

    1. I’m so glad this helped Stephanie!!! Praying that God will turn this situation around for you and that your son and ex will be in awe of your actions. That your love for them would draw them closer to God, In Jesus’ name, Amen!

  10. What an encouraging piece to read, Alisa. Taking the high road and giving everyone we meet some grace is always difficult, but this post is a great reminder we should at least try. We can’t all have patience like I saint, but attempting to be the bigger person is always worth it. Thanks so much for sharing this on #shinebloghop!

    1. So true Maria! It’s never easy doing the right thing, especially when the other person isn’t responding well! Thanks for visiting today!

  11. I gained so much new insight from this post!!

    I too thought that “blessing someone” meant to ask God to bless them. I was greatly convicted when I read the Biblical purpose for blessing your enemies – to speak well of them. That can be such a tall order sometimes, and when we do “speak well of them” it must be genuine. Again, that can be such a tall order. But the Lord asks us to seek Him in all things. I’m sure if I asked Him, he would show me the good things I could say about the difficult person.

    I definitely struggle in this area, and I appreciate so much the gentle conviction and encouragement you provided in this post.

    Blessings.

    1. I totally agree, Karen! It’s so hard to hold our tongue sometimes. To actually speak kind words when we are in the midst of the situation is truly the grace of God. I guess that’s why kindness and gentleness are fruits of the Spirit. Without Him, we want to do quite the opposite! Have a great week!

  12. Thanks for this rich teaching! I’ve been trying as of late, to see people’s behavior, as just their behavior – not who they are. We have an enemy out to destroy our relationships, and with this view in mind, and with much prayer, we can go forth in love.

    1. I love your perspective on this, Sandra! Thanks for sharing it! Have a great weekend!

    2. I love this! What timeless advice for this world we live in. It is not easy to be kind or compassionate in a world that is set on putting oneself first. We must remember to be like Jesus all of the time.

  13. I recently encountered someone for an extended period of time who was very difficult to get along with. I’m not a confrontational person so it really took it’s toll on me. Thank you for the reminder to treat them with love and kindness!

    1. I don’t like confrontation either! I’m learning that it’s inevitable though. Thanks for visiting today Lil!

  14. I am going through an incredibly hard year with family members. I really needed this post! Thank you.
    I struggle with understanding how boundaries and love connect in God’s math. Praying to do right before Him. Thank you for reminding us of these truths.

    1. So sorry to hear that Terry! Balance between boundaries and love is so hard. I pray that God gives you a glimpse of those that are difficult through His eyes and that they would see His love through you. Have a great weekend!

  15. Such good Bible study here. I love your insight into the Word. You brought me a whole new level of insight into this passage. I always read this before and thought, “I don’t really have any enemies.” Thank you! Pinning, Tweeting and sharing!

    1. Thanks Betsy! I felt the same way when I’ve read it in the past as well. I had just dealt with a difficult person and God totally opened my eyes up in this passage! Thanks for visiting and sharing!

  16. Alisa – such a great post… I have a hard time with difficult people too.. I’m currently in the midst of dealing with a difficult person right now and wondering how to salvage the relationship … I appreciate your thoughts. Stopping by from #FreshMarketFriday

  17. This is such a great post, Alisa! Dealing with difficult people in a Godly way is so difficult! You give such insight and hope into how God wishes for us to handle it! I hope you stop by Monday morning and share it with us at #MomentsofHope! I’m making sure to share this!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    1. Thanks, Lori! I will definitely be linking up at #MomentsofHope. Thanks for sharing!

  18. such great tips and true to real life. A mom of one of my son’s classmates is awful and deceitful. She tried to steal my reading spot, even though she has gone in six times and as a working mom that was only my 2nd time. Everyone told me to confront her afterwards, but I knew it wasn’t worth it. If I spend my time focusing on her, how will I live my life.

    1. I agree, Karen. Sometimes confrontation is not the best, especially if it won’t resolve anything with them. Many times the best response is love. Proverbs 25:21-22. Thanks for visiting. Have a great weekend!

  19. Alisa, there is such rich wisdom here. Digging into His Word is something I need to be doing more. There is such freedom to be found in it.

    Thank you for helping us to understand this passage better. The “bless them” part is especially convicting. I pray for God to bless those who have hurt me, but don’t often purposely speak well of them in front of others. I’ll give excuses for their behavior, recognizing their human frailty like me, but won’t often go that one step further.

    1. I know that feeling Anna! That part was really convicting for me as well! Thanks for visiting. Have a great week!

  20. I really love the insights you shared about what these verses mean and how we can apply them. Blessing someone means speaking well of them. That’s a hard one, but when applied I can see how it would change our attitudes and prepare us to have pure hearts when we pray for them. Loving difficult people truly helps us to walk in the spirit instead of the flesh. So happy to be your neighbor at #RaRa link-up today, Alisa. Have a great day!

    1. Thanks, Valerie! The blessing part was what spoke volumes to me as well. Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great week!

  21. I’ve been meaning to read this, Alisa. Such a good post, and God is dealing with me on this I know because it keeps hitting me smack in the face. You bring out such good points, all straight from Scripture. I especially like the “Bless them” point. We don’t often think to do that or to speak well of others who are difficult! But that is something I definitely need to work on. I recently heard a podcast by Chip Ingram on how to deal with difficult people and he said by blessing them we need to stop avoiding them too. I know I just want to run the other way or escape somehow when I see those people but his challenge was to actually seek them out and do things for them. So hard, yet God put them in our lives for a reason!

    Great truths, so glad you linked up at Tuesday Talk again!

    1. I love that, Ruthie! I tend to want to avoid them as well. I am not one who loves confrontation, but I know it’s inevitable. Thanks for reading today. Have a great week!

  22. Words of wisdom here, Alisa. The kids and I have been having a similar conversation. They have some difficult relationships to deal with and aren’t certain how to handle them. I’ll be pulling your words into our conversation, highlighting God’s truth. This mama is quite thankful for the guidance and you today!

    1. Thanks Kristi! The day after I wrote this I had to have this conversation with one of mine as well. It’s not always easy for them to understand why they need to love this person. But it definitely worked on our end! Praying God moves on behalf of yours as well! Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Alisa, I love how you shared the definitions. They add so much. Overcoming evil with good is certainly not a natural response. I also like how you pointed out that we can be the difficult people. It helps so much to remember how we’d want to be treated when we’re cranky. And sometimes our unpleasant emotions are telling us these aren’t healthy people for us and it’s okay to have some distance.

    1. So true, Debbie! Boundaries are so important. Thanks so much for visiting today! Have a great week!

  24. Guilty of being a difficult person right here. Especially at home. I am so working through this. God give me grace. Thank you for this beautiful post and reminder I need to shape up no matter the circumstance. You are a blessing and am so glad you linked up last week at Cisneros Cafe. <3 Have a blessed week, my friend.

    1. I can totally relate Carolina!!! I can so be that difficult person! This was such a teaching lesson for me as well. Have a great week.

  25. The Bible is clear that all people are God’s creation. I am totally agree with your post. We should deal difficult people with love, politeness and smile.

    ~Dr. Diana

  26. Hello, I gained some timely, valuable truth here. I have a true enemy at work. I can’t control what this person does to me, but I can control how I handle the pain and irritation. Your post pointed out that I have a choice of whether to go to others and talk about the irritations, or simply pray about them and vent outside of work. Thank you for this reminder.

  27. This is sooo true!! Very hard for me to deal with certain people. I really needed this, I have been struggling with “dealing with” certain people.

  28. Hi,-I stumbled on this post. Not sure of what I am going through. I think my husband is verbally abusive but i’m not sure. We get involved in arguments every 2-weeks——no joke. And he can be loud or explosive especially when I am trying to explain or make him see reason. He does not curse at me but can be hurful with his words. Tried to be a gracious wife. Forgiving, doing right and all. I fall short though.
    Now I wonder……if I practise these principles with a person who does not understand the place where it is coming from……wouldn’t I keep opening my self up to more hurt?

    1. Hey Dee! As I read your comment I couldn’t help but think of 1 Peter 3:1….Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,

      Now I’m not saying that you should stick around for abuse. But I know even in my own life I can be a little scrappy. I want to defend and argue my case, which usually causes our “heated discussions” to escalate. But the quieter I became, letting God be my defender, the more I saw the results I wanted. Perhaps by bringing these issues to the Lord, you will find grace to communicate in a more productive way with your spouse. I hope this was helpful!! Praying that God would supernaturally intervene in your marriage!!

  29. Thank you for unpacking what God’s word has to say on forgiving others, rather than simply offering your own thoughts. Not that your thoughts aren’t good and/or wise, but it’s just that I really value the person’s perspective that is shifted and filtered through God’s word, Alisa! Like you did here! So thank you for this no compromise look at forgiveness and for mining the depths of God’s word to provide the roadmap we all need in times like these! I’ll be pinning!

  30. Whew! God brought someone specific to mind even as I was reading this. Amazing as He can trudge up old wounds, and ask us to start tending to them, not for the person we seek to forgive, but for our own healing. Thank you for this Alisa

  31. I work in a church and this is such a problem. You would not think so but it is true. They get upset if a comma is wrong in the bulletin…….etc. I have through the years learned to smile and say thank you for bring it to my attention or whatever is appropriate. Until recently, I never thought about praying for them. It has made an amazing difference in my life. Your article was great! God bless you!

  32. This is such a good and sweet reminder to keep loving. I have dealt with my fair share of unhealthy not fun behavior from friends. It’s sometimes hard to look past being offended and realize they are acting out of hurt. That’s when compassion needs to come in!

  33. OH such good stuff here. Thank you for these words of wisdom. I’m not very good at dealing with difficult people either, but you have outlined good, scriptural ways to help in this area.

  34. What do you do when the difficult person is your partner?

    1. Hey Jessica! I would say the same thing applies, especially if it’s your spouse. That is definitely a relationship that should be handled with care. I would be praying that God will soften them, heal the hard places of their heart and draw them closer to Him.

  35. First time visiting your blog and it is so true. When I encounter a difficult person or someone is talking about one I always say ‘ I wonder what happened to them to make them like that ‘ . We’re not born like that so you need to see if you can find out what happened to cause them to be that way , I don’t ask I just listen and comment and they usually talk more . It is by the grace of God that I am able to do that because I use to like nothing better than a good fight. Looking forward to your next post – God bless .

  36. Really great insight and tips, Alisa. I especially appreciated your point on blessing. Although I hadn’t really thought about that way before, I was thinking about it the same way you used to. I’ll definitely keep that point especially in mind for the future.

  37. Johanne Audy says:

    Hi Alisa, I’ve been praying for about a year now to God to show me what to do with two persons at work that are really hurtful and God answered my prayer when i came on your post today, Wow what an eye opener. It is so true. I’ll keep this post close to my heart. God bless you.

  38. Michelle Newport says:

    I have had many difficult interactions with my husband’s adult children through out the years. I have turned the other cheek, given, blessed and loved them as God has called us to do. I also have an adult child and we have a beautiful 5 year old together. My husband’s children chose to exclude my/our kid(s). Three years ago one of them physically assualted me. It took me a while (years) to realize that they really don’t want any form of relationship with me and certainly not the grandkids or my kids. Sometimes, it’s just better to love someone from a distance. Your article reminded me of much easier times in our lives. I’m so grateful for a God that loves us unconditionally regardless of all our warts.

  39. Boundaries create a reasonable framework from which we can endeavor to love those difficult people.
    This is a sweet lovely post on a pretty hard subject.
    What a lovely world it would be if all could embrace these instructions 🙂

  40. Alisa, you are so right! Hurting people hurt people. When we really understand that, it’s so much easier to extend grace. We also must realize that we have sinned and hurt people as well, but Jesus still chose to forgive us. Grace is such a positive feedback loop. The more we forgive and offer grace, the more we open ourselves up to receive grace, then the more we can give, and so on.

  41. I am not sure how old this post is or long it has been around but I do know that Gods timing is perfect and Hos word is always right on time. You will never know what your words have done for me today. God has truly spoken through you to me today. 1st, thank you for being a true vessel for God to work through. 2nd, this has just made an impact on me that is life changing. You see the difficult people in my life are family. I am a Christian woman who loves God and and I believe His word and try to live it as best I can but there are times I dont want to do what it says. Especially with family. But please know this has been an eye opener for me. I know these things but I have allowed the enemy to come in and keep me from from seeking Gods word for help in these circumstances. You have reminded me of the Hope I KNOW is in God word and new desire to do what is right. I will no longer allow other people’s behavior to dictate my behavior. I am going to do what I know God is telling me to do. Thank you from a new follower of yours. I am now going to go search Gods word for more hope, help and comfort.

  42. My step mother and I got off on the wrong foot because of the way my dad and her marriage took place. I struggled with the whole thing for at least 2 years. I did all the things that people that loved me and encouraged me to do to help mend the relationship. It’s been 4 years since they’ve been married and my step still throws the past back up in my face after I’ve asked for her forgiveness. After, reading this article it was so encouraging to know that I had done the right thing and I’ve finally just put the whole situation in God’s hands and I pray daily for the Lord to heal her spiritually, emotionally, and mentally and I completely trust that God will heal the relationships involved in His timing and His way. Until then, I’m at peace with the situation because it doesn’t do me any good to be otherwise.

  43. Oh my goodness. This is so so good ! Thank you for sharing !!

  44. Such insight here! I deal with difficult people in soccer coaching, my retail job, and out in public, as anyone else does. I’ve noticed that on that rare occasion I can rise above a knee-jerk reaction, being kind can not only melt that difficult person’s heart but soften yours as well. I remember to treat everyone the way I’d treat God if he were walking this earth with me.

    I loved this and I’m looking forward to reading more of you!

  45. Hey Alisa,
    I feel like everyone who believes in Jesus should read this post. It IS hard, to deal with difficult people. However, these people have personal issues and need to experience the love of Jesus. And if we don’t show it to them, who will? Thanks for this!

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