If someone annoys you, tell them, but calmly

By Terry Pluto

I was paging through a book called God Will Make a Way.

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

It was the subtitle that intrigued me: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do.

Checking out the table of contents, I saw this chapter heading: “Toxic People and Conflict.”

Not that I’ve ever encountered anyone who’d fallen into that category, but just in case — I checked out the chapter.

Written by Christian psychologists Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, the book has lots of ideas of how to deal with conflict, jerks and other fun parts of life — especially on the job.

So what do you do when you don’t know what to do with a person driving you nuts?

They suggested that you first ask the person if you could “give them some feedback.”

If the answer is yes, then explain “that certain remarks or actions have hurt you and made it difficult for you to do your work, and you would like for him or her not to do it anymore.”

My thought is to add, “You may not have intended it this way, but it did bother me when… ”

The key is tone of voice. If I turn into a prosecuting attorney, he or she will immediately get defensive. If I act wimpy and whiny, I probably won’t be taken seriously because I’ll sound like a child.

Try to sound very straight and matter-of-fact when outlining the problem — and be as brief as possible. Wait until you have calmed down before bringing it up.

For example, just say, “When you criticized my work in front of all those people, it really hurt. I wish we could have done that away from everyone else.”

Don’t say, “When you SCREAMED at me and made me FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT in front of those people, you really came off like MANIAC, and I didn’t appreciate it.”

With some people, no matter how you approach them, they will be offended. But rarely do I see people even attempting this technique. It’s much easier to complain to others about the annoying person rather than try to actually talk to the person about the problem.

“People are usually more able to hear feedback than we give them credit for,” write Townsend and Cloud. “Let someone know how his or her behavior affects you. Look past your fear and see if he or she takes feedback from others… then you might just need courage.”

The authors also said to make sure that you aren’t looking to the boss for approval. The job is not your family. Your boss is not your parent who should gush every time you do what is expected.

It’s so easy to become angry when we do something extra and it seems no one notices it… or when someone who is masterful at bringing attention to themselves receives praise from the boss.

A point the authors didn’t discuss is that too often, people just don’t want to confront a problem. This is especially true in church settings, or where people may think they are “spiritual.”

To some people, that means don’t say anything to anyone that may upset them — just hold it all inside and grow resentful. Or even worse, gossip and gripe about it to others.

This also holds true in marriage and friendships.

One party can be convinced everything is working, and the other wants to grab a baseball bat and belt them in the forehead.

There have been times in my life when someone has told me how I hurt them, or how a part of my personality was a problem. My wife has to remind me that when I feel rushed or under some pressure, I tend to start ordering people around rather than asking them to help.

I don’t like hearing that, but I know she’s right.

Most of the time when people have confronted me with any sense of courtesy, I eventually realized there was some truth to their complaints. Later — remember, I just said later — I came to appreciate it, and I apologized.

Looking again at the book’s subtitle: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do.

In this case, try talking to the other person first.


Terry Pluto can be reached at terrypluto2003@yahoo.com. Sign up for Terry’s free, weekly e-mail newsletter “Direct from Pluto” at www.ohio.com.

From the Maxwell Leadership Bible

The Maxwell Leadership Bible Developing Leaders From The Word Of God

  Resolution:  Jesus Taught How to Manage Conflict (Matthew 18:15-20)

There may be no clearer passage in the Gospels on conflict resolution than Matthew 18.  While Jesus spoke about addressing sin in the church, His words suggest broader principles.

According to Jesus, addressing conflict and healing offenses should be a priority for us.  He evens instructs us to postpone our worship if we remember an unresolved offense (Matt: 5:23,24).  Conflicts will arise in any organization.  Humans disagree because they are wired differently and have different agendas.  Note what Jesus taught about organizational conflict when someone has clearly done wrong:

1. Initiate the contact (v.15)

2. Confront the person in private (v. 15)

3. If no resolution comes, meet again with one or two more people (v. 16)

4. Confirm the facts in the meeting and work toward a solution (v. 17)

5. If no resolution comes, bring the issue before the church or organization (v.17)

6. Agree upon the truth and the appropriate options for the offender (v.17)

7. If no resolution comes, release the offender from the church or organization (v.17)

Behind this process lies the authority Jesus has given to church leaders (Matt.18:18-20).  We must act wisely, because we have God-given authority (18-18), because God will confirm and support the decision made in harmony (18:19), and because He is present when we gather in His name (18:20).

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