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I found this article, “Characteristics of Difficult People”, very interesting. Participants in a seminar in New Brighten, Minnesota identified the following characteristics of difficult people in churches, parishes, and synagogues. No matter the religious practice people are people. If they behave this way in houses of worship on Saturday or Sunday, the behavior will spill over into the workplace Monday through Friday.

Here is what they found:

  1. Difficult people are highly critical but not constructive
  2. Resistant to change for no articulated reason
  3. Eager to control and dominate in every situation
  4. Driven by their own agendas and going to any lengths to accomplish them
  5. Adversarial always view conflict as “us” versus “them”
  6. Seeing everyone but themselves as the cause of all problems
  7. Having an unhealthy need for attention
  8. Clinging to past histories and hurts
  9. Gossiping or rumor-mongering
  10. Not willing to discuss the complaint with the person involved but talking instead to everyone else about the person or problem

These people will test your faith and your leadership skills. So how do you deal with them? I suggest caring for confrontation and consequences. Some of the behavior could be unconscious. Someone needs to point it out to them, so they have the opportunity to change. On the other hand, they might feel rewarded for their behavior because it has helped them control others. A manager has tools that a faith-based leader does not. For example, faith-based leaders have to rely on inspiration and charisma as these are volunteer organizations – carrots no sticks. Whereas a manager/leader has carrots and sticks. He or she can inspire and use charisma to influence behavior but can also levy consequences for undesirable behavior.

In addition to holding the people in your charge accountable, model the behavior you want them to exhibit. If you want to change or enhance positive relationships consider the following:

· Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.

· Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior.

· Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habit.

· Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.

· Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny. (Mahatma Gandhi’s variation of Aristotle’s words.)

Feel free to share your thoughts about how you work with difficult people in various settings

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