Dealing with people you don’t like.
by Corey Wells
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We all have people in our lives that we don’t like. No matter how hard we try to let go of our feelings towards these people we just don’t like them. Sometimes we’re able to not let these people bother us. Other times we become so distracted with these people that we can’t help but become annoyed.
How do we find ways to deal with people we don’t like without letting them ruin our day. Truly this is not an easy thing to do. We can pretend like what they do or say doesn’t bother us, but deep down it does. Our feelings will eventually come out and often we end up behaving in ways we’d rather try to avoid. Many people will end up in a passive aggressive pattern with the individual they don’t like. This will leave them saying or doing things that not only the person you don’t like will pick up on but others will as well. Chances are you don’t want to be perceived as someone that gets wrapped up in emotional and childish behavior. Especially if your a regular reader of this blog.
What do we do with people we don’t like? We could try to ignore them, but that never works. We could try to get our issues out in the open and talk to them about what bothers us, but that usually ends with hurt feelings. We could complain to others about the person we don’t like, misery loves company after all. But often others don’t feel the same or we end up talking about the person we don’t like behind their back. Again this is not acting in a mature manner.
Identify the difference
Before we learn how to deal with people we don’t like we must understand what it is that bothers us about that person. Usually the person we don’t like is a trigger for something else that bothers us. Sometimes we recognize something in that person that we don’t like about ourselves. Have you ever had someone tell you that you’re a lot like the person you don’t like? Often what bothers us about another is something that we don’t like in ourselves.
An example of this is when we quit a bad habit. After quitting the bad habit we can have a low tolerance of others that still have this habit. This often happens when someone quits smoking, loses weight, or starts a regular exercise program. We can tend to be harder on people that still have our old bad habit.
Noticing a bad habit is fairly easy to spot, but how do you notice a difference in personalities? Personality differences are much harder to identify. But this is crucial to understanding why you don’t like someone. Here’s a technique that helps get to the root of the problem.
- Write down all the things that bother you about this person.
- Write a short sentence, besides each, about why these things bother you.
- Identify anything that you have in common with the things that bother you.
Many times you’ll discover that they have a personality trait that you can personally identify with. Other times you’ll discover a personality trait that is like another individual you’re close to. By knowing specifically why something bothers you, can give an awareness about a potential deeper issue. You might discover it’s not really about the person you don’t like, instead they remind you of someone or something you are not happy about.
If you’re able to identify what bothers you it will often be enough to get you past your feelings towards the person you don’t like. Sometimes you will instantly feel better about them. If identify the problem still leaves you bothered by this person then it may be time to accept them.
So, How do we deal with people we don’t like? We deal with them by finding ways to accept them for who they are. That doesn’t mean we have to be their best friend. It doesn’t mean we have to even like them. Although that’s often a side effect of acceptance. Acceptance simply means we recognize and accept that they see the world in a different way then ourselves.
Have you ever known someone you didn’t like, but had friends or co-workers that did like them? Maybe they liked the person that annoys you better than they like you. Why is that? How is it that you can not like someone and one of your friends enjoys that person’s company? It’s simple really. They either have a lot in common or they see the world in a similar way. They have a natural rapport.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “This acceptance stuff sounds fine but how practical is it? I have to work with this jerk everyday.” How do you accept anything? You learn to see things from a different perspective. You see that there may be more to the person or the situation than you are currently seeing. Here’s how to accept a person for who they are.
- Discover their story.
The first step is to find out their background, history, or story. Try to become interested in them. Ask lots of questions, “Where did you grow up?” “Where did you go to school?” “Did you like school?” “Do you have any brothers or sisters.” Ask questions and let their answers lead you to more questions. You want to see yourself as an investigator. You’re trying to solve the mystery of who this person is. Everyone has a story to tell and although you might not be fond of this person, understanding their perspective will help you accept them.
If you get the feeling that they’re not comfortable sharing, try disclosing a little about yourself. The best way to get someone else to open up is to disclose one of your more vulnerable areas. Of course don’t get too personal. Here’s some examples, you’re afraid of heights, you were picked on in high school, or your are allergic to dogs.
By offering personal information about yourself, the other person will be willing to share as well. This starts the foundation of acceptance and understanding. By knowing where a person has come from you’ll often realize how they developed their personality.
- Find empathy for them.
Now the you know a bit about their story, you might be able to understand their behavior. Having an understanding for why they behave will allow you to have empathy. Empathy doesn’t mean you feel sorry for them. It just means you can see how given the same set of circumstances you might have become much like the person you don’t like.
Imagine your in a crowded mall and you witness someone yelling at the checkout clerk. Your first reaction may be to distance yourself from this person as soon as possible. You might even call that person a jerk. At the very least you may think their behavior was terrible.
You walk up to the clerk and say, “What a jerk. He had no right to treat you that way. ”
The clerk responds with, “It’s okay, that’s Mr. Smith. He just lost his wife and is here to pick up something he ordered for her. I can understand why he’s upset.”
After hearing that Mr. Smith had lost his wife you would instantly have empathy for him. This is how empathy and understanding will help you accept the person you don’t like.
- Find something in common.
Knowing their story and having empathy for them is a great start, but if you want to be able to communicate with mutual respect it’s helpful to have something in common. Having something in common probably sounds difficult to do. After all you don’t like this person. However, you’d be surprised with the things you may have in common with someone you don’t like. Sometimes you’ll discover you both share similar hobbies, favourite sports, movies, TV shows or you like the same athletes or entertainers. Once you find something in common you now have something you can communicate about.
Let’s say you’re both fans of the same TV show. The next time you see this individual you can ask them what they thought about a recent episode. You may find yourself in an enjoyable conversation with the person you don’t like.
The only way to find out what you have in common is to get to know that person better and that’s going to take asking questions. It’s going to take accepting them for who they are and removing your previous thoughts about them.
The final and most important step is forgiveness. You must forgive these people for anything they did or said that caused you not to like them. Remember forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
Forgiveness is going to take working through the other three steps first. You must know and understand their story, you must have empathy for them, and you should find some common ground. Once you have accomplished this you’ll be ready to forgive and forget. You’ll be able to see things in the person that you never noticed before. This will help you find peace with your time with this person and most importantly reduce your own stress and anxiety levels.
When I was writing this article I asked some of my twitter followers how they handle someone they don’t like. I’ve included those responses below.
- @dsmy I usually send them a cake. or a card. or if it’s a female some flowers. Or say something nice about them.
- @DollFaceDelle kill them with kindess
- @IrisVAC78 You can only deal with yourself and how to alter your thought processes when around the person, so they have no affect on u
- @bacchicdance People u don’t like: Kill them w/kindness. It’s like cardio for your character & your karma. SO hard, but so strengthening.
- @rovemom ignoring is easy. but why settle for ignoring when you can transform it?
- @taruna_garbyal Simply ignore them.
- @Identifixrep How do you deal with people you don’t like? I just ignore them when possible & keep contact minimal.
- @naolicious When dealing with people I don’t like, I remind myself without them I wouldn’t appreciate the ones I do like as much.
- @ridenride First consider the source? Then treat them extra special and hopefully they’ll see how ugly they appear to others.
- @Cooler_Guy shoot them! haha, actually i try to use the path of least resistance. i find soliciting their feedback first disarms them.
- @henriquezamboni I deal with them the same way I’d like them to deal with me if I were a pain in the neck and were not aware of that.
- @TheRealDjRuiner I don’t.
- @_jorn I ask them to contemplate the disparity between how much I need them and how much they need me.
- @charlie1027 leave emotions out of it. use facts. be civil. anything else hurts YOUR rep more than theirs.
- @Paradox3a Walk away. Life is too short. I prefer to spend my time and energy on the people I DO like, it’s a lot more satisfying.
- @swestie When I don’t like someone, I try to kill them with kindenss!
(C) 2009 Corey Wells