Wouldn’t it be great to interact exclusively with people you like?
It would, but the truth is, you will often encounter people who rub you the wrong way, who say or do things that irritate you.
It could be that someone is habitually late or doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do.
Perhaps it’s someone who is rude and disrespectful. It could be someone who doesn’t listen or who is very arrogant and full of themselves.
How Smart People Deal With People They Don’t Like
Whatever the situation, whether this person is a family member, a colleague, or simply someone you encounter at the grocery store, here are some tips to help you feel better about any interaction with them.
1. Accept them
There will always be people who don’t see things the way you do and who don’t behave the way you would.
When you have high expectations of yourself, most likely you’ll have very high expectations of others as well, and the higher your expectations, the more you risk being disappointed.
Before you judge someone else though, recognize that you don’t fully know them or their situation (even if it’s someone you’ve known for a long time). You’re simply seeing their behavior in this moment.
You don’t know, and can’t know what’s really behind that. Everyone has a unique story.
Everyone has challenges and difficulties that can cause them to behave in ways that you might find unacceptable. You don’t have to like everyone and not everyone will like you. Nor will everyone think or behave the same way you do.
You’ll find people much easier to deal with if you accept this.
Then, depending on the situation, you can make a choice about how you want to deal with them. It’s easier if it’s a casual interaction and you can choose to simply walk away.
But what if it’s a family member or someone you have to work with?
Even when you’re forced to interact consistently with someone you don’t like, it’s much easier if you can accept that you don’t like them and be okay with that. This can help you make an informed decision about how you will interact with them going forward.
2. Identify what bothers you
Get clear on exactly what it is about this person that bothers you.
Stick to the facts and do your best to keep the emotion out of it.
For example, this person might be a total narcissist, making everything about them, taking credit for everything good and blaming others for everything bad. You might find that this really bothers you, and you may wonder why everyone else is not able to see it.
Getting upset about it won’t help you. It’s never going to change who this person is. This is simply what narcissists do. Now that you know this, it’s up to you to decide how you want to interact with this person.
Perhaps you make sure, wherever you can, that other people receive credit for work they have done so all the credit doesn’t go to one person. Perhaps you can train yourself to ignore the behavior or at least not let it affect you emotionally.
It may help you to know that narcissists behave the way they do because it covers up their insecurities and low self-esteem. They are extremely vulnerable to criticism, and have a deep need for admiration from others.
When you identify what bothers you and dig a little deeper to go beyond the behavior, you can arrive at a strategy that helps you deal with the person and their behavior in the most positive way possible.
3. Focus on the benefits
One technique that can help you is to think about their positive aspects.
Everyone has good in them. What do they do well?
For example, the person with the narcissistic personality may be an extremely good organizer. He or she may have a talent for organizing people and making things happen. They may be very committed and show up when and where they’re supposed to.
Look for the good and focus more on that than on what bothers you. You can even sincerely compliment them on their good attributes. This can help to put you in a more positive emotional state when you need to deal with them.
4. Release the need to be right
The more attached you are to being right, the more you will struggle with people you don’t like.
If you need to be right and you feel a need to prove it, you will waste a lot of time and energy in conflict. You can know that you are right without having to argue the point or prove your case.
In fact, in a heated discussion, letting the other person be right (even if you know that you are the one who is right) can take away all the negative energy and antagonism. You can make your point and simply walk away.
You don’t have to prove that you’re right. When two people have an intense need to be right it can escalate any simple discussion into a heated argument which can result in long-term disagreements and antagonism, just because both are determined to be right.
Ask yourself: Is being right worth the time and emotional energy expenditure?
5. Remain positive
Do you find yourself thinking about the person you don’t like and having conversations with them in your head or find yourself going over and over what it is you don’t like about them in your mind?
When this happens they have taken over your thoughts. You have given away your power to that person. The only thing this does is to negatively affect you. It does nothing to or for the other person.
Try to stick to the facts of the situation and disconnect emotionally.
When you are connected emotionally it becomes your problem. It can take over your life. Don’t let it. Focus on what you need to do in order to be able to detach. Find positive ways to think about the situation. Think of positive ways to deal with the person.
Look for something positive and make the decision that you will not let them take over your thoughts or steal your present moment awareness and peace.
6. Become an observer
If you find yourself reacting to someone you don’t like, you’re giving your energy to them.
Sometimes you may encounter people who try to manipulate your energy or who try to project their issues onto you. When you react to that, you feed them energetically. This leaves them feeling stronger and you feeling weaker.
They start to feel better about themselves and you start to feel worse about yourself.
Next time you encounter such a situation, see if you can simply observe their behavior without being triggered or getting pulled in. You’ll notice something interesting.
When you don’t feed them or the situation with your energy and when you refuse to take on their issues, they are left with it all to themselves.
This leaves them feeling more and more uncomfortable because they’re having to deal with their own negative energy all by themselves, since you’re not engaging. You don’t need to take on their stuff, and you don’t need to let them take your energy.
Become an observer and stay empowered. They will soon learn that you are confidently grounded and can’t be messed with, making your interactions with them much more positive for you.
7. Be willing to learn
There is always something to be learned from any difficult or negative person or situation.
You can learn a lot about yourself, as well as others. Whenever a difficult person enters my life I ask myself what they are teaching me about myself. I know that once I learn whatever I’m supposed to, then that person won’t be a problem for me any more.
Either they will move out of my life, or our interactions will be positive. If they remain in my life, it doesn’t mean that I have to like them, although that may be a possibility. But I can learn how to deal with them in a positive and empowering way.
I can learn to interact with them in a way that feels good to me, and ultimately that is my main objective, to feel as good as I can, as often as possible.
When you are willing to learn and to actively look for the lesson this person can teach you, you take control of your life. This is a proactive and very powerful approach. It will teach you how to respond, as opposed to reacting to them.
Recognize that there will always be people you don’t like and that don’t like you – and that’s perfectly okay.
It’s all part of life and its many lessons for us.
What I have learned is that the more positive you are, and the more you apply the techniques mentioned above, the fewer encounters you’ll have with people you really don’t like, and when you do, you will have the tools to deal with them in the most positive way possible.
And remember to be grateful for all the difficult people and situations that challenge and frustrate you, because often they are our very best teachers.