Handling Personality

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington and Helen Ostenberg Elswit


I was wondering how to deal with people who speak in a harsh or unkind way unjustly, especially in the work field.


The Bible offers us this counsel:

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Prov. 15:1)


Helen Ostenberg Elswit, has had to deal with verbal attacks in her profession as a Visual Effects Producer. Here she explains how she has handled such tough situations:

The biggest lesson I've learned, which applies to every type of setting, is not to take things personally. On the whole, I've been fortunate to work with people who are lovely, who are wonderful, who are not screamers. But I've found myself in situations in which I felt personally attacked, and I didn't know what I had done to cause that. I've found it helpful to look at the situation, remove "person" from it, and refuse to take offense. When I was able to put myself in the other's shoes in order to understand what was causing the attack, I discovered that what I was dealing with was a sense of fear: the other person was fearful of something. As a result, I was able to impersonalize that fear and not see the person as evil, as someone who was out to get me. Seeing the people who attacked me as children of God - loved by God and loving because they are His children - completely dispelled their fear and changed that situation. What we're always dealing with is our own consciousness - how we are thinking about what's going on around us. Once we address and change our own consciousness, the situation changes because we see it differently. And then we can do the extra-kind thing and reach out to the person in a way that helps dispel the fear, which heals the situation. We are then no longer perceived as the source of the problem.

Helen Ostenberg Elswit