This is a guest post by Wendy Komac, author, speaker, and long-time turnaround specialist who has helped save companies by focusing on changing underperformers to exceptional workers. She is the author of I Work with Crabby Crappy People, a humorous and highly informative book about achieving happiness and success.

Each day, we’re presented with choices in our professional careers and personal lives that will affect not only us, but all of those associated with us. When faced with challenges such as crabby people infiltrating my surroundings, I refocus my view on life to look through a lens of love, in an attempt to better myself and those around me. I take these opportunities and try to run them through a process that I’ve seen work in my own life, in the hope that I can have a positive impact.

Be Virtuous With Your Actions

I’m a recovering alcoholic. My opportunity to be better was presented to me through my 12-step recovery program, and it transitioned into the workplace. I was able to apply some of the same principles, such as forgiveness, to the work environment in a way that wouldn’t be offensive to my colleagues. I hoped for a new way of building professional relationships. While hope alone cannot be a strategy in the business world, when it’s mixed with love and faith, then fueled by action, it can be part of the equation. This starts with how you view the people around you, even when they are not the most inviting individuals to show kindness toward.

Kindness doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can be kind to those who accept it, but it’s how we act toward those who need kindness most that determines our character.

My personal philosophy is to strive to view people through the lens of love. That means giving others the benefit of the doubt rather than attempting to capitalize on them when they are having a bad day. I double-check my thoughts and actions by asking myself, “Is this for the greater good of all involved?” If it’s not, I stop and reexamine all thoughts and actions that led me to that conclusion. It may sound like a lot of work, but truth be told, when I limit my thoughts to those that are only for the greater good of all involved, I have a lot of time on my hands. It takes much more energy to be angry than it does to be happy. Just ask yourself: are the streets of your mind safe for everyone to walk? If your thoughts about others are critical, then at some point, those thoughts will manifest into words – words that will most likely turn into destructive criticism. Nobody wins in that environment.

Take Advantage of Your “Stuff”

You’re going to deal with crabby, crappy people each day who lay low, waiting for the right time to strike. Dealing with these people can create a sense of constant fear and anxiety. We can let it cripple us or we can think of it as an opportunity. I constantly remind myself that we are all created from the same “stuff”; it’s what we do with that stuff that makes each of us unique. “Stuff” is like electricity: it can light up a room or electrocute people. When I run into people who are deadly to deal with, I try to bless them. I have no idea what happened in their yesterday that has made who they are today. I forgive their behavior and look for the cause so we can work toward changing their choices – and their lives. Sometimes, the most difficult people are the ones I need to seek out most; they need help shifting away from whatever is ailing them. As a leader, the most critical part of my job isn’t some skill acquired in the classroom. My most important task is to be on a search-and-rescue mission, looking for those who are wounded, and then love them back into wholeness. My employees can’t thrive professionally if their minds are on personal problems. The reason my approach works is because I’m empathetic to their problems and will work with them to solve any crisis. We’re not necessarily born with grace and patience, but we are given numerous opportunities to be graceful and patient. By seizing these opportunities with our own “stuff,” we can become more virtuous people, both professionally and personally. Helping others is medicinal for you as well. When you wish someone well, you’re blessing them and, simultaneously, blessing yourself. Sending good thoughts out to the universe for others creates a chain reaction, and good thoughts come right back to you.

How to Deal

At points in my life, I have been the toxic, mean, maniacal, oblivious person. You can’t change any of these characteristics; you can only change how you respond to them. By responding (not reacting), you take time to assess the situation, finding something (anything!) good about the person. Everybody has something we can appreciate; sometimes, you just have to look harder to find it. It comes back to looking through the lens of love. If someone is looking at you through a lens of anger and you look back at them through that same lens, the problem is just magnified. Change your lens to love. You may not be best friends, but it will cancel the destructive components of anger and hate so you can learn to live in a world of mutual respect.

Think about love, faith, and forgiveness; pay close attention to the roles they play in your life. Think of your body – physically and mentally – as a gift from the universe. Don’t abuse it. Take time for meditation, prayer, exercise, and a healthy diet. Spirituality isn’t a religion; it’s a practice to make sure you’re operating at optimum capacity. Think of it as a way of life and a way to success. Once you take care of yourself, all the other pieces will fall into place and you’ll ask yourself, “What took me so long?” Be the best version of yourself, generate positivity, and your attitude will reflect like mirrors among everyone around you.

Author and speaker Wendy Komac is a long-time turnaround specialist who has helped save companies by focusing on changing under performers to exceptional workers. She is the author of I Work with Crabby Crappy People, a humorous and highly informative book about achieving happiness and success.