3 Steps to Turn Flies Into Fireflies: Working with that 1 Person

For those of us who work with other humans in any capacity–family, volunteer, work–we find ourselves in situations that are less than positive at times.


Or do you work with a group of individuals where everyone is always on the same page, turning the pages the same direction, and not arguing over what book you should even be reading?

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

Just in case someone did answer that question with a yes, let me give you an example.

Several years ago, eons actually, I was sitting in meeting with 20ish people where it seemed the majority were in agreement on the matter at hand. Please note the word “seemed”.

Then just as the matter, note I don’t remember the matter just the situation, was about to go to vote, that one person stood up.

You know that one person. They always have an opinion on everything even if it isn’t their area of expertise. And they always choose to voice their opinion. Especially if their opinion is in the minority. It will be presented in a manner that everyone is making a terrible decision and they will be eternally disappointed if the matter gets decided this way.

Oh, and that person is highly respected. Their voice, if not their vote, carries weight. It has immense potential to swing the vote. This is why they waited until right before the vote to voice their thoughts. They needed to know what everyone prepared to speak had to present in order to prove it all wrong.

Ok, participation time. How many of you have a person’s name in your mind right now?

You have one, don’t you?

Ugh! There’s more than ONE of them in the world!?!?

Just kidding. I know there is. I’m pretty sure I’ve met more than my quota already. I’m pretty sure some would say I’m one of those people.

So, back to the story at hand. The vote wasn’t as clear cut as it started out to be. It still passed, but it passed with anxiety, hurt feelings, and the rest of the meeting passed with no camaraderie but a sense of dread.

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25 NKJV

That individual’s influence over that body, yet again, irritated me the whole drive home. By the time I got in the door, I was down right furious. What right does one person have to cause that much distress within an entire voting body?

“You’re not going to believe what…”

Chris interrupted my tirade quickly. “Let me guess. So-and-so.”


“And they threw a fit about said situation.”

“Yes! I’m so tired of them doing this every time! They’re in charge of everything else. They’re just mad that no one asked their opinion or permission about this. They don’t need to have their hands in everything!”

And there it was. The true problem. The heart of the problem.


1. Identify the real issue at hand. What causes the individual to behave in ways that irritate you?

In my case, the individual was used to being in charge of things. In this case they felt left out, unimportant. Therefore, they tried to gain some control back by playing the devil’s advocate. Literally.

In all reality I don’t believe the individual was at all opposed to the matter at hand. They just didn’t like that they had been left out of everything except a vote.

And my problem was that I agreed they didn’t need to have any part in the process except for the vote. Their hands were already too busy and didn’t need to be tied up in the details of yet another project. For once I wanted to see them demonstrate trust in someone else to be able to accomplish a job.

2. Identify how you naturally respond to issues related to dealing with the individual. Are the responses positive or negative?

step2picIt is clear to identify my natural response above.

I am very negative and immediately upset. If you could see my body language, you would see right leg crossed over left and pumping vigorously. Arms crossed, hands clinched. Eyes staring straight ahead. Lips pursed.

Definitely negative, closed off vibes radiating from my person.

It happened in almost EVERY conversation or meeting involving said individual. I always went in with my game face on.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.


Philippians 4:8 NLT

Every situation I faced with this individual found my thoughts filled with anxiety, anger, and just about any other negative word we could list. I most definitely wasn’t filling my mind with good thoughts. I went in to every situation ready to find things to add to my ever-growing list of faults of this individual.

And after one particular instance where I reached my limit with the individual, I was to the point that I was going to tell them exactly what I thought about them, in my prayer time I was told to do just that. Except I wasn’t sure I could do exactly as I was told.

3.  Identify one characteristic you can sincerely encourage the individual in and do it.

At this stage of my life, I was sending out a lot of handwritten cards of encouragement. If I saw someone doing something, I sent them a card telling them how their ministry was a blessing and encouraging them to continue. If I saw someone struggling, I sent them a card with encouragement and scripture. I didn’t do this as part of a group or ministry, it’s just something I did.

During my prayer time the Spirit spoke to me about that individual. Send them a card encouraging them.

You can imagine my response.

Say what?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 NIV

“Lord, I can’t think of anything nice to say. I don’t just sign my name to cards an mail them. I write personalized messages in them. I can’t LIE in a card.”

The only response I got was to encourage them.

I was a tad bitter, resentful. This individual had nothing nice to say about anyone yet went around patting their own back. Really I have to pat it now too?

Days later I finally wrote the card. It was honest. It was sincere. It was still a little hard to drop in the mail. But I felt like a small amount of weight had lifted off my shoulders.

A couple days later I told my husband what I had done. His eyebrows may have touched his receding hairline.

Yet another small amount of weight lifted off my shoulders.

When I ran into the individual a week later they smiled at me and thanked me profusely for what I said in the card I sent them. Told me I’d never know how timely that message was and how much they appreciated my words.

Yeah, I can’t remember for the life of me what I said. I also know that the card was for me, not them. I had to find the good in them, a reason to praise them, in order to get my thoughts back on what was good and holy. In order to get myself right with God.


I started to write cards like that pretty regularly for quite some time. Yes, to people who irritated, aggravated, annoyed, or I simply disliked. By forcing myself to identify what was GOOD about them, I could start to see them in a different light. When they realized I saw good in them, they approached me differently.

There’s truth to the saying “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. I always wondered why anyone would want to catch flies, but you just might find those annoying little bugs turn in to beautiful fireflies once you’ve added them to your jar. Just make sure you aren’t setting out lies for honey.

I dare you.

Yes, to try it. Go back to the participation at the beginning and start with the name that popped in your head. Ignore those voices telling you to pick someone else, someone easier to say something nice to. Stick with that one name.

Come back and tell me what happened, please! I’d love to see how God can work through our words.

This post was shared with:

Creative K Kids
The Jenny Evolution
Fellowship Friday 75 & Commitment
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  • Great tip. I have people in my life that I need to do this for. Focusing on positives lift everyone up. Extending grace is what Jesus did for me when I can be annoying and stubborn. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mary,

      Thank you so much for dropping in. Sometimes we forget just how much grace has been extended to us. Well, at least I do. Then when I get caught up in not wanting to extend it to others, I’m quickly reminded.

      Even when those around me choose not to accept the grace I eventually offer, the fact I offer brings me to the right place.

      Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation!

  • That’s really hard to do, but so very much the heart of God. What credit is it to you if you love those who love you back? Even pagans do that.

    I’m inspired by your reaching out and your obedience to the prompting of the Spirit!

    • Jennie,

      Thank you so much for dropping in to read and comment! That is a great paraphrase of scripture to go with this post. I also thought about the one that when we treat those that have wronged us with grace it is like heaping burning coals on their heads. But I really didn’t want my post to sound preachy today. I wanted to present real life skills that could benefit anyone any day of the week.

      Can I help it if my theocentricity shines through? 😉



  • Great idea! I have done that sort of thing in the past, and while it can be a real challenge, it always ends up being worth it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Laurel,

      Isn’t it refreshing when the negative feelings lift? I hope that others can find inspiration here to try something different to change their circumstances!


      Carrie Ann Tripp

  • What a great post. Sometimes God puts people in our lives and we wonder what we have done to deserve it. But you never know how much a kind word, a smile, a little compassion and encouragement can mean for a person. I’ve been in situations where all I could do was pray for the person, then God showed me I needed to pray for Him to change *my* heart. To ask Him to show me them as He sees them. The world would be a much nicer place if everyone could take a minute or two and read this! I am sharing on my facebook page.

    • Robbi,

      Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment. I have already seen your share and have commented on it! I also liked your facebook page and invited several young moms to like it also. No guarantees there. Few I know understand this “blogging thing”.


      Please feel free to link your post up with us on #TheocentricThursdays! We’d LOVE to add your voice to the mix!


      Carrie Ann Tripp

  • I love this! Love it! “By forcing myself to identify what was GOOD about them, I could start to see them in a different light. When they realized I saw good in them, they approached me differently.” <—- I do this with my quarreling children, and sometimes when someone comes to me over and over again speaking negativity about someone, I ask them if there is anything they can say that is good about that person. But I notice I quickly spiral into such toxic sludge when I encounter my own difficult person, and the only way to turn it around is to love through it. I love your obedience to God here! May we all follow those promptings. Sometimes these difficult folks were never told enough they were loved unconditionally, and we may be the only voice they hear reflecting a Father's love. It can surely be exhausting! Imagine how God feels keeping up with all of us! 🙂

    • Bonnie Lyn,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop in to chat! Isn’t it interesting that we are quick to direct someone else how they should handle negativity, but we rationalize our own negative response?

      I can’t fathom, or perhaps I don’t even want to try, how God deals with all of us at one time, continually. I know how volatile four people in one house can be at any given oint in time. Or 30+ individuals in a classroom. The whole entire population living and resurrected? No thanks. 😀

      Please drop in again! And feel free to link your own post with our #TheocentricThursdays BLog Hop that runs through Sunday!


      Carrie Ann Tripp

  • Good morning Carrie, great post. As I begin to read the post, I was immediately reminded of several post that I had written called “The Heart of the Matter” and “My Turn, Your, Turn.” two name a few. Dealing with individual who need the attention of having the last word or being involved with everything, admittedly, c”an pluck yours nerves to say the least. Sometimes having the presence around can be mind bobbling too. Since I have always been a person to put honest to pen and paper, or should I say finger to keypad, I will admit. God has always used these type of individual, situation and circumstances to show a reflection of something I needed to see in myself. Disappointed and sometime angered, when a testing or lesson comes up and needs to be addressed. I now, immediately cry out to God, “Now what do you want me to learn from this MESS” . Haven’t always been willing to grow through to grow through, But God! Yes, I have been able to identify with others ‘flows or nuances”, according to what I would call it, so that I may rise above the occasion and be a help in a place or time of need. It was wonderful to read that you took the necessary steps to overcome a pestering situation, so the Glory Shines. Thanks for the Share and reminder that there is always a way to deal with every situation. Blessings.