It’s an undeniable truth—we all know people we just don’t like.
Of course, some of these “enemies” are people we can simply avoid.
But all too often, the person is someone we’re in regular contact with, such as a coworker, a boss, a next-door neighbor or a best friend’s new love.
So how can we all gracefully handle this type of conundrum?
I got some smart strategies from life coach and Daily Health News monthly contributor Lauren Zander.
If there’s anyone in your life who really rubs you the wrong way…
YOU CAN GET OVER YOUR DISLIKE
Zander’s advice is likely to take many people by surprise. “If you have decided to dislike someone, then you are also capable of deciding to give up the dislike,” she told me. Now, this doesn’t mean that your nemesis has to become your best friend. But by slightly adjusting your perspective, you can learn how to tolerate this person without pulling your hair out. And once you’re able to accomplish that, you never know—you might even begin to like the person (a little).
You wouldn’t mind that, right?
Here’s how to proceed…
- Release your frustration. If this person is actively hurting your feelings, then the first step is to gently talk to him or her about it. Let’s say that your best female friend’s new love interest is repeatedly rude to you during conversation. First tell your friend about your concern, so she doesn’t feel like you are going behind her back. Then, the next time you see her love interest in person, beckon him to a private corner and be polite but frank about what bothers you and why. Try saying, “I know my friend is very fond of you, but I wonder if you realize that you sometimes offend me. For example, the other day…” Getting this out into the open will not only ensure that he is aware of his effect on you (in case he wasn’t)…but it will also lift a weight from your shoulders. It means that you have made a sincere effort to improve the situation for everyone…it wipes the slate clean so you can, if he is game, start over fresh with this person.
- Push away the negative and focus on the positive. Maybe there is a woman in your office who bites her fingernails every time she talks to you, and it disgusts you…or she always takes the last cup of coffee and never makes a fresh pot…or she complains so loudly in the office hallways that she’s constantly disrupting you…or she always seems to try to “one-up” you at meetings. It’s easy to focus all of your energy on those annoying habits of hers. Instead, try this for a week: Ignore her negative qualities and think about her positive qualities. (Think hard, because there’s a good chance that she has some!) Perhaps she is a cancer survivor and organizes a bake sale for a cancer charity with coworkers every year…or maybe you saw her interact with her kids on “bring your child to work day” and were impressed with her warmth and sense of humor around them…or maybe she is a gym rat who eats very healthy foods and you admire her discipline. When you revise your mind-set and make those positive traits the first thing that you think of when you hear her name or see her, then you will find yourself tolerating her better…perhaps even liking her a bit.
- Be outwardly kind. This strategy is actually pretty easy—because it’s easier to change the way you act than the way you think. Here’s the rule: No matter what you are thinking, change the way you behave around the person who grates on you. Instead of rolling your eyes or ignoring him, smile when you walk by him, say hello and ask how his day is going. Why do this? The more polite you are to him through your actions, the more polite his actions are likely to be in return—in fact, he may even welcome the “opening” that you have given him. And when he acts more kindly toward you, then you will start to think nicer thoughts about him. So it’s quite the positive domino effect!
- Shoot for consistency. You do need to be careful about a reaction that people commonly have when they decide to be “nice” to someone they don’t like. They successfully pull off the “acting nice” part…but then, when they are with other people behind closed doors, they really let loose with chatter about how annoyingly dislikable the person is.
Who knows, maybe it’s the stress of being nice to someone you’d like to punch that has to find an outlet somewhere. But whatever the reason, if you improve your demeanor toward someone in person but then ramp up the hostility when he’s not around, not only are you being two-faced, but your hostility will create negative energy within you that will make it harder for you to really improve things with your tormentor.
So make sure that you are positive 100% of the time, and you’ll watch your distaste for the person slowly slip away. And if he proves not to appreciate all this effort on your part to make things easier between you? Then start the cycle all over again—and keep trying!