I’m dreading being with people I don’t like – what can I do?
We can’t like everyone we meet, but we can treat them all fairly and well. Here are half a dozen pointers to make sure that “I’m spending time with people I don’t like – it’ll be terrible” doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Practice respecting them. The easiest way to do this is to stop criticising them when they’re not there. Talking about them to other people in such a way will only reinforce your dislike, and it can make you look fairly unpleasant too. Most of us know someone who’s angry with other people in their absence – don’t be that person.
Be warm to them. Welcome or greet them as you would a friend, and don’t make them feel awkward. That means thinking about your body language – mirror theirs, stand at an angle facing them, and keep a comfortable level of eye contact. They’ll feel included, but not confronted.
Use your Emotional Intelligence. Be aware of your emotions, and how they might be displaying themselves. There’s a bit more to that than stopping yourself sighing or rolling your eyes. It’s about whether what you’re feeling is appropriate or useful, and whether you could become more accepting.
If there is disagreement then make sure that you respond with calm and tact. Better still avoid arguments – look for common ground, and take the conversation there instead. And if you genuinely can’t find any common ground or agreement then limit your engagement with them, especially one-to-one.
Remember the occasion. Spending time with people you don’t like is normally part of something else – a family gathering, or a works party perhaps. Focus on that, and keep the time spent with people you don’t like in perspective.
Ask yourself why. Ask yourself what it is that you don’t like about them. Is it a belief or a point of view that they have? If so make sure that you don’t let the conversation turn in that direction. If it’s their behaviour or a habit then make sure you’re not taking it personally when it isn’t meant that way. And if it’s a personality trait ask yourself why you don’t like – it might point to something that you don’t like about yourself, or something that you wish you could do.