Dealing With Challenging People: Don't Compromise...Yourself

Image: The St. Paul Integrity Pledge

Image: The St. Paul Integrity Pledge




Pressure is all around me to move in a particular direction I disagree with - what can I do?


There are times when you feel tremendous forces moving you in a particular direction, and you feel like giving in. Here, it’s time to understand which people need to be pleased and why—because it’s not going to be everyone.



Can compromise be an art? Yes--but a minor art. — Joyce Carol Oates, Black Water



Compromise can be a good thing. It can lead us toward middle ground and more creative solutions. But when compromise breaks reciprocity, when it impacts our dignity and sense of self, it can be damaging.

Sometimes challenging people encourage us to behave immaturely. Someone may have a manager asking them to engage in unethical behavior by faking monthly performance numbers. Someone else may have a colleague trying to get the team to reject a new member because they feel intimidated. On these occasions, we may feel tempted to surrender to these external forces, persuasive personalities.

But something happens when we feel this kind of “pull” - our inner voice starts to speak up, alerting us to mistakes we are about to make.

Integrity is built by small actions over a lifetime, but it can be lost in a moment. That we hold something so precious within each of us means we owe it to ourselves to adopt a certain code or discipline. When we are confronted by “the pull” of pressure to move in a direction that compromises our ethics and values, or the team or organizations ethics or values you’ve made integrity a habit, or practice, you don’t compromise yourself. Period.

Instead of getting lost by the current of pressures around you, you become the ballast of the group. People start turning to you for guidance. Instead of giving in to unreasonable demands of a challenging person, you stand your ground—and you can do that respectfully. Instead of tuning out your conscious when a new member joins a team, you can tune into it and help them succeed.

Sounds too simple and easy, doesn’t it? As anyone who has been pressured to do something they knew to be wrong can attest, it is not easy to take a stand. Knowing yourself enough to know what works for you and what doesn’t, and integrating those things into your daily practices is what helps you recognize compromise when it comes knocking.




Compromise means to go just a little bit below what you know is right. It's just a little bit, but it's the little foxes that spoil the vine. — Joyce Meyer

You know you're in a bureaucracy when a hundred people who think 'A' get together and compromise on 'B'. — Scott Adams

Compromises have this recommendation, that if you concede anything, you have something conceded to you in return. — Henry Clay, The Compromise of 1850

Every human relationship implies compromises, but the limit to any compromise is one's own dignity. — Fausto Cercignani, attributed, Quotes We Cherish




Never allow someone else to bully you into doing something you know to be wrong.


Don’t compromise yourself. If you’re being bullied by a person with a challenging personality, take a moment to define your position. Understand what you will and won’t shift in order to meet the other person and their needs. Then find the courage to stand up for your beliefs.


Talk to a friend or trusted colleague about which is more important: integrity or popularity. Discuss possible costs of compromising your integrity for short-term gain or a few moments of being considered “in.”


If you keep a journal for your own development, write your thoughts about the importance of learning what your position is on a particular issue, and taking a stand.


Why let someone else’s bad attitude ruin your day? The Little Book Of Dealing With Challenging People enables you with all the tools and tactics you need to handle all kinds of people—to make your life less stressful and a great deal easier.