Written by Jim Symcox
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Some people are more difficult to get along with than others. Does anybody remember the movie, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”? If you do remember, then you know what I mean. Some people truly are more difficult to get along with than others.
Jesus had something to say about living with difficult people. His words on the subject are found in Matthew 7, part of the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s examine three biblical principles—three secrets for successfully living with difficult people. The first thing Jesus told us about getting along with each other is that we need to guard our thoughts.
1. Guarding My Thoughts.
It’s easy to judge each other quickly, to assign motives, and to focus on everything we don’t like about another person. But when we judge hastily like that, the Bible says that we create an environment of unfair criticism and that we’re very likely to experience unfair criticism directed back at us. To get along with other people–even difficult people–we need to guard our thoughts and not allow ourselves to make inappropriate judgments.
2. Fulfilling My Desires.
We all have desires, and sometimes when other people get in the way of our desires, we find it difficult to live with them. So, in order to get along with each other, we need to give our desires to God. The Bible tells us to ask, seek, and knock. Pray. Other people, even difficult people, can’t stand in the way of God giving us what He wants us to have. Now, let’s take a look at the third and final principle about getting along with difficult people.
3. Planning My Actions.
If we want to live in harmony with each other, then we need to plan our actions. We need to think carefully about how we should treat each other, and we should make a plan for how we want to act towards each other. Basically, Jesus says that when you sit down to write an action plan for dealing with difficult people, you really only need to ask yourself one simple question: How Would YOU Like It?
In other words, if it were you and somebody else was writing up an action plan for how to treat you, what would you like? How would you like to be treated? What would you like other people to do for you? What would you prefer? The best way to get along with difficult people is to treat them just as you would like to be treated. How would you like it?
In verse 12, Jesus sums up all three principles here in just one simple phrase. In fact, He sums up everything He’s taught in this sermon in one simple phrase. In fact, He sums up everything God wants us to do in this one simple phrase. Almost everyone has heard this phrase—even people who have never once been to church. It’s a principle that has shaped human relationships for centuries. It is short and simple, but incredibly profound. We call it, “The Golden Rule.”
Let’s go back to this idea about the Golden Rule summarizing everything God wants for us in our relationships with each other. There was another time in Jesus’ life when someone asked him point blank what the most important thing was that God wanted us to do. Here’s what he said: Matthew 22:35-40 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.
 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Once again, quoting from Leviticus 19, Jesus said that everything God had revealed to mankind hung from these two commands: love God first and love your neighbor as yourself. Do you think that this simple phrase might be important to God?
Paul describes the same thing in Romans 13:8-10. He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.  The commandments…are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love…is the fulfillment of the law.
Conclusion – How Would You Like It?
Do you want to know what God wants you to do with your life or, for that matter, what he wants you to do with this afternoon? Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s it. And that means you need to begin by thinking about how you would like to be treated and then finish by making a specific action plan to treat others the same way. If we want to get along with difficult people, then we need to plan our actions to reflect the way that we would want to be treated.
Jesus said it: “So then, whatever you desire that others would do to and for you, even so do also to and for them, for this is (sums up) the Law and the Prophets.”
Jim is President of the Hard Facts – Soft Skills company. He is a former Texas state trooper, entrepreneur, and corporate executive, and brings a uniquely powerful perspective and incredible resume to improving performance, productivity and profitability in organizations. Jim has been coaching and mentoring leaders, professionals and business owners for many years. He has studied with the Leadership Coach Academy and he is an active member of the International Coach Federation.