Deal with People Who Don't Like You

How can I handle people who don't like me?
Why are people mean?

Mean people suck. It hurts when someone seems to not like us. We all secretly want to be liked and (dare I say) admired. Approach the situation smartly and move on.

SUMMARY...
In order to think clearly, you must try to divorce yourself from emotion when analyzing the situation. Ideally, think about the situation during a walk or while exercising.

  1. We tend to overemphasize others' behavior and de-emphasize our own. Consider if you truly have any responsibility for the situation. If you do, own it and fix it. If you don't, continue to keep your conscience clear.
  2. Try to break down what you think might be going on in her life. We often take personally what is unrelated to us. Don't assume you understand the situation in a person's life which could be the cause of her actions.
  3. It's only fair to give people the chance to change. At a proper time and place, talk to them about your feelings. Avoid any judgments of them, which cause defensiveness.
  4. Consider if this relationship is worthy of your time. Shift your energy on people who will appreciate it. Stop (if possible) or reduce interaction with the negative person. You can't change her so don't give her any more of your energy and sunshine. She doesn't want it anyway.

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IT MATTERS BECAUSE...
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Though erroneously attributed to Buddha, this statement is nonetheless profoundly accurate. Anger and disappointment hurt us deeply. We don't need to do that to ourselves. Let negative feelings go.

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THINK ABOUT...
Smart people are able to reflect on a situation and consider a logical response. Take a walk or exercise while you think to help remove emotion which clouds our opinions.

Own your responsibility
A part of having strength is being comfortable with vulnerability. Be strong and allow yourself to truly reflect on your past behavior and words. Are you guilty of something? We tend to overemphasize others' behavior and de-emphasize our own.

Have you followed the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you)? Have you been thoughtless or careless? Maybe you weren't outwardly mean or nasty. Think if perhaps a lack of action or care on your part may have contributed.

Have you been manipulative? Is your behavior different than your true thoughts? Maybe you don't realize or maybe you mistakenly think others don't realize. Thoroughly consider your past motivations and if you were genuine. People don't like to be manipulated and disdain passive aggressive behavior.

Even if you think it's small or insignificant, open yourself to thinking about your part in this relationship. Owning responsibility is mature and an acknowledgment of boundaries. Consider if taking an action, such as apologizing, would do good. When you apologize for crossing a line, you show others how to treat you.

If you truly, honestly, and wholeheartedly think you have done nothing to warrant this negativity from others, than your conscience is clear. Continue to keep it clear.

Identify her (or his) motives
Best as you can, break down what you think is really going on. Try to step into her life and think about how the person may have gotten to this point. Don't entertain shallow conclusions such as stupidity, laziness, or jealousy. Go deeper to truly consider what could be in that person's heart. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Brought up with different traditions and don't value the same manners/holidays/celebrations as you do
  • Hurting and creating space and protection from the outside world
  • Afraid of rejection (I'll reject you before you reject me)
  • Has different expectations of you (lower or higher)
  • Projecting onto you (defending her own unconscious impulses or qualities by attributing them on you)
  • Mirroring your behavior (have you been awkward or brusque in the past?)
  • Is busy or overwhelmed with things in her or her family's life
  • Temporary or long-term unhappiness in her own life
  • Lack of social skills or shyness
  • Insecurity, creating a need to be right
  • Feels threatened by your beliefs

Understanding that there could be valid or sad reasons for her behavior may change how you feel. You may feel angry thinking she was callous but how would you feel if you knew she was going through a deep depression? You may feel outraged thinking she doesn't like you as much as you deserve but how would you feel if you knew she has Asperger Syndrome?

We often take personally what is completely unrelated to us. Don't assume you understand the current or past situation in a person's life which could be the cause of their actions. Knowing that everybody has a cross to bear, can you be more flexible and forgiving of the imperfect behavior of others?

Talk to her about how her actions make you feel
It's only fair to give people the chance to change. It's possible she may not realize her actions cause pain.

Be careful to have this discussion at a proper time and place. Share your feelings rather than your judgments. Judgments put people on the defensive and can induce anger or clamming up which won't be productive.

Examples
Causes defensiveness: You were mean when...
Better: My feelings were hurt when...

Causes defensiveness: You were rude when...
Better: Can you help me understand when...

Don't expect an immediate response and certainly don't give ultimatums. Allow the person to digest what you said and leave it at that. Give her time to think on it and decide whether or not to make changes in her behavior towards you. Feel good that you gave her the opportunity to change but remember that they aren't obligated to.

Consider if it matters
Not everyone has to like you. You can't change people; you can only change yourself. Even though changing ourselves is within our control, we all know it's very hard.

If you can, don't interact with that person. Life is too short to be around people who aren't a positive in your life. You don't need to expend any energy or time on people who don't appreciate it. Time is limited so shift more time with the people who do appreciate you, love you, and make you feel good.

Finally, don't expect more than what she can give. Manage your expectations so you won't be disappointed. Try to only expect what people are capable of or willing to give. You'll set yourself up for turmoil otherwise.

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ADDITIONAL READING...

People Can't Drive You Crazy If You Don't Give Them the Keys by Mike Bechtle
Practical book with good instruction for not allowing people to drive you crazy. It's an easy read with interesting anecdotes that prove a good point and also make your laugh.

 

Why are People Mean? Don't Take it Personally! on Excel At Life blog
The blog is written by a clinical psychologist. This is a great article analyzing the reasons why people are mean from a rational and psychological perspective. Very insightful to understand others' behavior.
 

How Smart People Deal With People They Don’t Like on Lifehack
Though awkwardly written as an observation about OTHER smart people, it contains some great points on self-control and self-reflection.
 

5 Ways to Deal with People Who Don't Like You on The Praying Woman blog
In this article, the author takes an approach through her faith. It's a short and to-the-point perspective that's worth a quick read.

6 Reasons It’s Good Some People Don’t Like You on Huffington Post
What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. This unique perspective truly turns a bad situation into an asset and I can only agree.