Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Managing Difficult People at Church

If you become involved in a parish, you stand a very good chance of running into a difficult person. People who like to control things gravitate toward religious settings and volunteer groups, which afford them ample opportunities to seize leadership positions. Controlling people like to give marching orders. Typically, they'd rather have you do the heavy lifting while they tell you how to do it.

As Christians, we know that we need to bear with one another. However, this is much easier said than done. I recently wrote an article on another venue about managing tricky personalities. One suggestion, which I originally heard from a therapist on You Tube, was how to respond when a controlling person tells you how to do things. In order to avoid conflict, but not to the point where you become a doormat, you can smile sweetly at the individual, thank them for their suggestions, and then do things your way.

Here is an example. Usually, especially with volunteer work, there is no right or wrong way to do something. Someone may want the tables and chairs set up a certain way for a parish event. But, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter if they're facing a little to the left or the right. This is when you can "thank" the micro-manager for his or her suggestion, and then continue to line up the chairs how it seems to make sense. (In this case, the pastor probably doesn't care how the chairs are arranged, as long as everyone has a seat.)

In a church, no one should be pushing anyone around. But it happens. This is to be expected, and managed. (However, if multiple people are ganging up on someone, and it becomes ugly, this is more like mobbing, and the best thing to do is to move on.)

However, if you're only dealing with one or two difficult people in a particular parish, being kind, while standing your ground, is probably the best approach.

Pixabay photo top by natclegg

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