The tension was so thick that you could slice through it with a knife. The atmosphere was tense and undeniably dominated with negative energy. Me? I was trying to figure out why. Typically when someone has a dislike for you, especially in a religious setting, it is easily masked with a stiff hug, a faint “Oh, how are you?” or a smile plastered on a nonchalant face suited more for an annoying child. THIS TIME was different. The dislike for me was SO palpable that I could almost reach out and touch it. It was especially unsettling coming from people I would have once considered “friends” or at the very least acquaintances. I could not let the obvious disdain for my presence stop me from doing what I needed to do at the time, and for as much as I had prayed in preparation for the slight chance that it was going to be this way-the atmosphere tense with unfounded opposition- when it all unfolded, I still was not quite as prepared as I thought I would be. To be greeted with such animosity from people who I had once shared a life with was a bit challenging, but I was up for the challenge.
If you are like me, there is a strong likelihood that you will be in the same room, on the same project or team or work for the same company or serve in the same church or as someone who does not like you. You may be able to pinpoint the day, time or situation that pitted you against your beloved foe, or you may be like me- absolutely bewildered and baffled about the moment when your “friend” became your “enemy”. Either way, it is a hard pill to swallow knowing that you must interact with a person, especially if you are in a subordinate position, that you- and more than likely a few other people- know is not fond of you.
So how do you maintain your peace when you know that you will have to interact or work with that someone? You do JUST THAT- maintain your peace. You are are not in control of or responsible for that person’s behavior, but you are responsible for your own. (Here is the point in the story where you could possibly decide not to press like at the end of the article. Here comes a strong truth. Brace yourself.) Everyone will not like you. Everyone will not “get” you. You may be the cutest, nicest, friendliest, most dedicated and most hard-working employee, friend, church member, neighbor, etc. (you get my point) and someone will still find a reason to roll her eyes, make up lies, flat out ignore or sabotage you. Here is the liberating part. Their inability or unwillingness to treat you with respect says more about THEM than it says about YOU. Trust and believe that people notice what they are doing, and you do not have to be burdened with trying to justify yourself or call attention to their behavior. Your job is to MAINTAIN YOUR PEACE. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “The time is always right to do what it right”, but what is right?
Keep the main thing the MAIN THING. What is your goal, purpose or job? What have YOU been trusted to do? Do that without reservation, in the best way possible and don’t worry about the rest.
Don’t take their mistreatment personally. Keep in mind that the person who is disturbed by the fact that you are breathing right now probably treats other people like that as well. They are more than likely facing personal problems and/or have major character flaws. I am sure that you are not the only one that they are annoying.
Be extra and authentically happy around them ANYWAY. Pray for them and do good to them. It opens up doors for more blessings for you and always leaves them shocked at your kindness and probably embarrassed by their behavior.
Set healthy boundaries if possible. You are not a doormat, and you do not deserve to be disrespected or treated rudely. There is a way to set boundaries in a firm yet fair way to let them know that there are certain things you will not tolerate. If necessary, start a paper trail documenting conversations and/ or communication that you have had with this person. Having it in black and white keeps it official and not personal.
EVERY time you do the right thing, especially when it would have been easy or you would have been justified doing the wrong thing- YOU WIN. I know that it may not seem like it, and you probably just want to get out of the situation and not be bothered with that person or people anymore, but use this time to be introspective. Get in tune with yourself. Make the situation about you and your road to self-improvement. Consider if there is a lesson that you could learn or something that you can do to improve yourself or your situation. I guarantee that if you continue on the high road, no matter how low they go, you may not see immediate changes in your situation, but you will see long-lasting changes in you, and that, my friend, is an even better outcome- a BETTER YOU.