Four ways to respond when someone rubs you the wrong way

Have you ever had an idea or a plan or even your perspective bump into someone else’s idea, plan, or perspective?

I sure have! And, when that happens, crash! Suddenly, we find ourselves in conflict.

Oh, friend, conflict happens. The result is often hurt feelings, resentment, or stress. It’s just something we all face as part of being human.

But, can we get real honest?

There are some dear souls in our lives who seem to create conflict. They just plain rub us the wrong way. I call them “sandpaper people.”

So, what do you do when that sandpaper person in your life rubs you the wrong way? Run? Explode? Ignore?

Today I want to give you four healthy, biblical ways to deal with the sandpaper people in your life.

Remove your plank. In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus encourages you to look at your own life before you do a total-life analysis on the sandpaper person you’re in relationship with. Chances are, when you examine your own heart, you may find you have your own mountain of stuff to deal with before you address someone else’s molehill. So, get real with yourself and get real before God. Then, get right with Him about your own stuff. The result isn’t just that you are then qualified to deal with someone else’s wrongs. The greater outcome is that you have a right attitude and humility.

Clothe yourself in love. When you approach your sandpaper person, be careful not to clothe yourself in the armor of anger. Instead, clothe yourself in the love of Christ. This doesn’t mean you ignore sin and avoid conflict. It means you infuse it with some patience and forbearance as Colossians 3:12-15 instructs. You clothe yourself in love, choose to be kind, and show the same kind of patience you want others to show to you. You are also willing to give the same forgiveness to them that Jesus gives to you. Besides, when you are clothed with love, you always look your best!

Listen well. Be quick to listen and slow to pull out the sermon! If you go into conflict with the intention to hear the sandpaper person’s point of view, you will lay the foundation for a healthy discussion. Here’s a practical way to start: Acknowledge something good about the sandpaper person or your relationship with them. Let them know you are trying to understand—as much as you can—how they may feel. And, then listen to their heart. As you listen, don’t interrupt, but rather be slow to talk. Resist the urge to start creating your defense in your brain. When you show the grace to acknowledge them and listen, then you will have a more willing audience to listen to you when you share your point of view. Remember, the goal is not to prove you’re right. Your goal is to behave righteously and trust God with the outcome.

Resist fear. If you have removed your plank, put on love, and chosen to approach your sandpaper person as a listener, then it’s time to just flat-out tell the truth! But, here’s the thing, many of us can get so timid when it comes to sharing truth. You may be one of them. But God has not given you a spirit that runs and hides. Instead, He gives you love, power, and self-control. That means, you can speak the truth in a loving way. You can trust that God will empower you to represent the truth in a situation and represent Him well also. And, you will have the self-control to listen and speak—to not explode or hide or say things you will regret—all because His Holy Spirit’s control in your life gives you self-control.

Every time you follow the truth of Scripture rather than your own agenda, you give an opportunity for the sandpaper person to be far less abrasive, and the result may not be perfect, but it is always better than it was!

Remember, no matter what sandpaper person you are facing, you can respond in healthy, biblical ways through Christ who gives you strength.

Do you need biblical encouragement from a strong, faith-based community? Join Kirk Cameron and the rest of his online community at The Campfire. 

This post originally appeared on and was republished with permission. 

Jennifer Rothschild has written 14 books, including the bestseller Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Me, Myself, and Lies. She’s been featured on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil and is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith events. Jennifer became blind at age 15 and now helps others live beyond limits.


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