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April 1, 2019

Extra Grace Required: Dealing with Difficult and Annoying People

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Perhaps you’ve heard of EGR people. It’s not a personality type—like an ENFP or an 8 on the Enneagram.

EGR folks are those who require extra grace. Extra Grace Required. EGR.

Somebody like this.

These are the folks who simply grate on our nerves. Perhaps it’s because of the way they step into your personal space or always top your stories with one of their own or don’t spellcheck their emails or act as if they’re the smartest person in the room or … and the list goes on and on. They are everywhere.

And once you notice it, it’s nearly impossible to turn it off.

EGR people try our patience, and they keep trying it. 

Plot Twist

But here’s the bizarre thing—you are an EGR person.

So am I.

We all require extra grace from somebody. The way you live seems totally normal to you. We can’t imagine that anyone ever gets frustrated with our habits, tone, style, etc. We don’t even think that way.

As Harold Coffin once said, “The fellow who thinks he knows it all is especially annoying to those of us who do.”

And interactions with people always require grace. And often extra doses of it. Why? Because we are all human. We all fail. We are self-absorbed. We don’t like to change. We might have pretty good self-awareness, but even then, we have blind spots. We all have prickly edges. (My prickly edges don’t feel pointed and sharp to me; they only feel pointed and sharp to you.)

Dwight Shrute is an EGR person for Jim Halpert, but the opposite is true as well.

What do we do with this?

So, what do we do if someone needs EGR? And what do we do to improve our own EGR status?

Jesus said, “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a beam of wood in your own eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.”

Jesus’ harshest words were often reserved for those who thought they did everything right and for the proud who looked down on others. If you’ve got a lot of EGR people in your life, you just might think a little too highly of yourself, not worthy of being slowed down by all these “needy” folks.

Jesus also said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “You already love those who love you. That’s not that big of a deal.  Everybody loves people who make them feel good about themselves. But when you love your enemies, that’s when the world stands up and takes notice.”

To be fair, this passage isn’t talking about people who are annoying. This is about people who are downright enemies of us. But I think followers of Jesus shouldn’t try to limit it. Limiting one’s love and care is kind of the concern here.

This doesn’t mean you have to become best friends with and feel warmly at all times toward the challenging people in your life. There are even practical strategies for managing relationships like these.

But there’s a greater opportunity here than simply to manage the hard relationships in your life, so push for more. Start by trying to mature a little in the way you see yourself. Then grow in your patience and love for others who rub you the wrong way more than normal. Make it a spiritual journey, not just a personal emotional irritation.

Imagine a society where everyone a) realizes they need extra grace; and, b) seeks to give it. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? I’m in.

I know I need it.

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