I'm dreading being with people who don't like me

I’m dreading being with people who don’t like me

I’m dreading being with people who don’t like me – why is that?

We’re social animals, and Christmas can see us spending time with a wider variety of people than normal, or seeing them in a different setting.  That might be staying at a relative or in-laws house, or spending time on a works do with a colleague you don’t know that well.

As social animals other peoples’ regard and validation are important to us, no matter what we might tell ourselves.  However sometimes people don’t gel, or can actively dislike each other.  When that happens to us we can end up trapped in a cycle of thought – “Why don’t people like me?”

The first thing to remember is to replace the word ‘people’ with the people’s names.  And if you really can’t stop focusing on it, then make sure you spend an equal number of times naming the individuals who do like and love you.  That way you’ll keep it in proportion, which is essential.

I’m dreading being with people who don’t like me – what can I do?

There are four quick checks you can make if you find yourself in this situation.

Check you’re right.  You’re not a mind reader so look for clues to their state of mind.  Is their body language closed, or not mirroring yours?  Are they avoiding eye contact and giving one word or mumbled answers?  If so they might dislike you – or you could be assuming something else happening to them is all about you.

Check you’re in the right.  If you’re sure that someone does dislike you then take an honest look at why that might be.  Have you been insensitive or rude, even if by accident?  Do you owe them an apology? Could being a bigger person and making one anyway make things better?  And what is it they dislike – is it you or some of your ideas or values?  If it’s ideas or values then think about whether you can keep them unmentioned – will restating your views on Brexit make for a happier atmosphere?

Check your behaviour.  It’s easy for our behaviour to become defensive and shut down when we feel unliked.  Whilst it makes sense to us to minimize our interaction it has the effect most often of reinforcing the other person’s behaviour too.  If you’re faced with what you think of as “people who don’t like me” then you need to consciously warm up your behaviour and attitude to them.

Check whether it matters.  Think back to the idea of keeping this in perspective.  It’s one person, and you’ll be with them for a finite amount of time.  Plan some time with a more supportive friend after, or even during, your exposure to people who don’t like you.  Remember that the situation is only temporary – and remember that there are probably people you don’t like too.