How to Keep a Good Attitude When Dealing with Difficult People

Are you letting what other people do determine your attitude? Are you letting things upset you that don’t have to upset you?

The other morning, I was approaching a red light with my right-turn indicator blinking. Suddenly, the man in the car behind me starts honking his horn angrily. I look in my rear-view mirror and I see this guy, furiously waving his arm, motioning for me to make the turn. I hadn’t even had the time to stop at the red light yet and make sure it was safe to proceed through the busy intersection! But, there he was, honking his horn and throwing a temper tantrum inside his car.

I’ve heard it said that the shortest period of time in North America is the time between when the light turns green and when you hear the first horn honk. Yes! And, my light was still red!

I wish I could tell you I maintained a great attitude in that moment. I wish I could tell you that I calmly completed my stop at the red light, checked to make sure the intersection was clear, and safely turned right with my peace intact. On many occasions that’s exactly what I would be able to tell you. But not this time. This time, I honked back and felt angry as I drove away.

I allowed that driver’s bad attitude to rub off on me. I took the bait – hook, line, and sinker. As a result, I gave my power away. It can happen to the best of us. That’s why having a positive attitude is a daily discipline.

When you allow other people’s attitude and behaviour to affect your own, you’re giving your power away.

What can you do when this happens to you? What can you do when you’re baited into bitterness? Or when you get upset by something that doesn’t have to upset you? Start with some digging!

When it comes to having an attitude worth catching, it’s going to take some digging to uncover what’s going on inside your heart.

Sometimes our greatest challenge is to uncover what’s inside our own hearts.

Your family member leaves you out. Your co-worker is rude to you. You get cut off in traffic. You feel offended, angry, and resentful. You’ve taken the bait. But, you don’t have to swallow it. You don’t have to let it get into your spirit and spoil your day and poison your attitude.

Instead, you can pause and do some digging. Ask yourself: Why am I feeling the way I do?

After doing some digging of my own, I recognized the reason I had responded to that driver’s anger with more anger was that I had been neglecting some important self-care. I’d stretched myself thin with personal and professional commitments. I was tired and I reacted badly. My reaction wasn’t about the man behind me. It was about what was going on inside me.

What you think, what you say, and how you behave is a reflection of what’s going on inside of you.

Do you know what that means? Just like my reaction to the man’s behaviour wasn’t about him, his behaviour wasn’t about me. His behaviour was a reflection of what was going on inside of him. I didn’t have to take it personally and get offended. Why allow it to ruin my morning? It wasn’t even about me.

The way others treat you, has nothing to do with you and everything to do with what’s going on inside their own hearts.

That awareness is key in maintaining a good attitude when dealing with difficult behaviours of other people. You don’t have to take it personally. Instead, you can rise above it!

Adopt an Eagle Attitude

Rising above pesky behaviour is a strategy used by eagles. Eagles can fly higher than almost any other bird and they use that ability to get away from one of their biggest natural nuisances—the crow.

“Although the eagle is bigger and stronger,” says Joel Osteen in his message titled Dealing with Difficult People, “the crow is more agile. It can turn quicker, maneuver faster. Sometimes to annoy the eagle, the crow will follow right behind the eagle. Just pestering it, trying to cause it trouble.”

What does the eagle do in response? It could turn around and fight it. It could try to fly left and right in an attempt to outmaneuver it. But, the eagle doesn’t waste it’s energy engaging in conflict with a pest. Instead, it simply flies higher. It effortlessly soars up, and up, and up to heights the crow can’t go. The crow can’t handle that high altitude and it’s forced to leave the eagle alone.

Osteen says,

“In life, there will always be some crows. You may work with crows. You may have some neighbours that are crows. There will always be people that can get on your nerves. They feel like it’s their calling in life to annoy you, irritate you, and push your buttons. That will continue to happen as long as you’re staying down at their level. You’ll get upset, be baited into conflict, live offended.

You have to realize you’re an eagle. The way you get rid of crows is not engaging with them, but by going up higher. Don’t pay attention to what they’re saying. Quit reading the negative comments. Don’t let that offense get down in your spirit. If you do, you’ll get drawn into conflict.

You’re an eagle. You’re not supposed to be fighting with crows. You’re not supposed to be upset with some chickens, pecking around, dealing with things that don’t matter. Quit being frustrated by the turkeys, people that don’t understand you. People that make a lot of noise trying to steal your peace.

Those are distractions trying to get you off course, wasting time and energy that you need to pursue your goals. You can’t stop the crows from crowing. You can’t stop the chickens from pecking, the people being rude, that grouchy neighbour, or that critical co-worker. But, you can spread your wings and rise higher.”

Are you going to allow the attitudes of others spoil your own attitude? You don’t have to. You don’t have to retaliate. Rudeness is never solved with more rudeness. Disrespect is never overcome with more disrespect. Besides, you’re not a crow. You are an eagle!

You can choose to fly higher. You can choose to let the negative attitudes of others slide off of you knowing it really isn’t about you. You can forgive, move forward, and stay focused on your own purpose and goals. You’ve got more important things to do. You were made for so much more. You were created for a purpose!

You can’t control other people’s behaviour, but you can control your own. Take back your positive attitude by rising above. As Osteen says, “You’ll never go wrong taking the high road.”

All my best,
Denise Marek

(P.S. If you know someone dealing with a difficult person, please share this post. If you are dealing with a difficult person, do what you can to adopt an “Eagle Attitude.” It will make the world of difference in how you feel. Keep soaring!)