We’ve all been there. You take a new job, begin a new class, or join a new organization. You are excited for the fresh start, perhaps eager to get into the mission of the organization or the material that you will cover. You meet new people, and everyone is on their best behavior. Challenges may be great or few, but those that emerge are easily managed.

Until they aren’t so easily managed. Day after day, you continue to do your work, still eager and excited about what you are doing, but there seems to be that one person.

Maybe it’s a teacher, a manager, a co-worker, or a peer. Maybe it’s someone you only interact with periodically, but it could also be some you have to work closely with on a daily basis. In either case, you can feel your enthusiasm start to slip and your frustration start to grow. It might be that this person does not do good work or even get their work done at all. Perhaps the individual is somewhat rude and inconsiderate. Or sometimes you just can’t put our finger on it; this person simply gets under your skin.

The bad news is that you have to find a way to deal with it. The good news is that there are a few strategies to make working with the person better.

Treat the person with kindness.

It never helps to treat the person poorly. You won’t teach him or her anything by doing so, and you will only set yourself up as the poor actor.

Use kind firmness.

Being kind does not mean that you have to allow someone to walk all over you. Remember that kindness is more about your manner of interaction than your content. State your position or concern. Advocate within reason for what you believe is right. But retain your kindness while doing so.

Avoid complaining to others about the person.

While it is often tempting to complain to others, that kind of venting is rarely constructive. It may be a good idea to ask a trusted individual for insight or advice regarding the situation, but that is different than simply complaining for its own sake.

If possible, talk to the person.

If there is a specific problem with the person’s behavior or attitude that you can identify, it could be best to talk to that person directly, rather than complaining to another person. Perhaps that person will be more open to feedback than you realize, but only if you can communicate in kindness.

Assume the best about the person.

It is very easy to assume that the person means harm or knows how they are affecting you, but that is often not the case. Typically, that person simply sees things differently than you do, and he or she is truly doing their best. Even if that is not true, dealing with that person becomes much easier if you simply act as if it is and respond accordingly.

While none of these tips will guarantee that you will fix the problem or avoid conflict, at the very least they will set you up well to deal with the problem as constructively and Christ-like as possible. As we continue to work in community and fellowship with each other, we inevitably will encounter people that we find to be difficult. We may not be able to control their behavior, but we can certainly control our own. Keep your attention on how you can make the situation better in a caring, Christ-like fashion, and it will be better indeed.

If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!