It’s just about a 100 percent guarantee that you’ll meet people you don’t like. Whether it’s one of your colleagues or your mother-in-law, you’ll certainly cross paths with people you just don’t click with.
And it’s impossible to expect that you’ll simply be able to avoid the people that you don’t like. Restricting who you interact with will limit you not only in your personal life, but also professionally. Instead of just grinning and trying to bear it, shift your perspective. Here are 10 tips to help you do that.
- Accept that nobody gets along with everybody.
As much as we’d like to “click” with everybody we meet, this often isn’t the case. The first step in dealing with people you don’t like is accepting the fact that nobody gets along with everybody else, and that’s okay. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, and they aren’t, either. You and the other person just may not be a good fit.
Behavioral styles can get between people. Some are dominant, while others are timid. Some people are optimists, while others are more pessimistic. And it helps to remember that nobody’s perfect. This includes you.
- Put an optimistic spin on what they said.
Try to look differently at what people are saying and how they are acting. Your in-laws may not have meant you’re not smart when they said what they said. Your colleague might not really be attempting to undermine you.
But even if the person you’re experiencing problems with is irritating you on purpose, getting angry will only escalate the situation or cast you in a negative light. Try and assume the best of the other person.
- Be aware of your emotions.
Your emotions matter, and you alone are ultimately in control over your reactions to situations. People can only drive you crazy if you let them.
If somebody is irritating you, don’t lose control of your anger. Recognize your feelings, then release them without entering into an exchange with the person. Sometimes simply nodding and smiling will do it.
The key is in treating everybody who crosses your path with an equal level of respect. This doesn’t mean you must agree with people you dislike, or that you must go along with whatever they’re saying. At minimum, be polite and act civilized. This allows you to remain firm in your stance on issues without appearing to personally attack other people.
- Don’t take things personally.
Disagreements usually are simply just misunderstandings. When you truly fundamentally disagree with somebody, first try to see things from their perspective.
If you act aggressively, they’ll likely overreact in return, fiercely and quickly escalating the situation. Rise above this by focusing on facts. Try to ignore the way the other person reacts, no matter how irrationally or ridiculously they’re behaving. Focus on the issue, not on the person.
- Distance yourself from the situation.
If you feel like you need space, take it. It’s perfectly acceptable to establish boundaries. It’s up to you to decide if and when you’ll interact with somebody else. If you feel like you’re getting worked up, take a break and find some breathing space. If somebody was smoking, you wouldn’t just sit there and inhale second-hand smoke. You’d leave and find some fresh air.
- Calmly express your feelings.
Our mode of communication is usually more important than the words we’re actually saying. If somebody repeatedly annoys you and it’s escalating into bigger problems, it’s time to call them on it.
Using “I feel” statements, such as “I feel irritated when you say that, so would you please stop?” prevents the confrontation from appearing aggressive.
Being specific will increase the likelihood that the person will accept what you’re saying. This also allows them an opportunity to tell their own side of the story.
- Use a moderator.
Using another person as a referee in these interactions brings objectivity into the situation. You may not end up becoming friends with your adversary, but you may discover effective ways to work and communicate together. Learning to work together with people you find challenging is fulfilling. It’s just one more way of proving to yourself that you can overcome difficulties.
- Choose your battles wisely.
Sometimes it’s just easier to let things go. Some things aren’t worth your attention and time. Ask yourself if you truly want to engage the irritating person, or if your efforts may be better spent just moving forward with what you were doing.
The best way to answer this question is to figure out if the difficulty is situational. Will things dissipate in time, or will they only worsen? If the issue depends on the current circumstances, you’ll likely get over it pretty quickly. But if things will only escalate, it would be better to expend the energy needed to sort things out.
- Don’t go on the defensive.
The worst course of action you take is to go on the defensive. This only gives the other person more power. Instead, shift the focus onto them. Ask them precise questions, such as what specifically is their issue with what you’re doing.
If they bully you, call them on it. If they demand your respect, they must earn it by treating you civilly. Bullying and gossip can be power-play attempts by forcing others into submission.
- Remember that you control your happiness.
If somebody’s really getting on your nerves, it’s difficult to see the big picture. But don’t let them—or anybody else—limit your success or happiness.
If their remarks are really irritating you, ask yourself why. Are you anxious or self-conscious about something? If you are, focus on this rather than listening to somebody else’s remarks.
You control your feelings. Don’t compare yourself to others. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, and don’t allow anybody else to gain power over you.