How to deal with people you don't like

Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on how to handle people you clash with.


No matter how full of happiness and light you are, in the course of life you are inevitably going to come across people that you do not like. They might be rude or disrespectful or mean (or chew really loudly) but you are stuck with them because your friend loves them, they play on your football team or they sit beside you in work. While you might want to avoid them completely, this might not always be practical because you don’t want to lose your friend, quit the team or get fired. Here are some strategies to deal with them without it having an adverse affect on your life.

  1. Ask yourself why they drive you crazy

In some cases, they might just be a truly awful person, but if you hate your co-worker because they got promoted ahead of you, or you dislike your friend’s other friends because you see less of her/him due to their new friendship, then you need to cop yourself on.  

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  1. Rise above it

If this person knows how to push your buttons, you need to be aware of that and rise above it. They might enjoy seeing you squirm or get angry, so do not give them the satisfaction. Perfect your poker face and do not let them see that they are affecting you. Afterwards, you can let off steam by discussing the conversation with someone else but while you are in the moment, keep yourself together.

  1.  Pick your battles

Sometimes, there are situations where you just cannot keep quiet and you feel you have to speak up. Maybe the person has insulted you or ridiculed a cause you believe in. If and when this happens, keep calm while you express your views. Do not attack the person, attack their position. If they are being insulting, tell them firmly and politely that you expect to be treated with respect.

  1. Try to avoid them

Yes, it can often be impossible to avoid being in the same place as someone you dislike but you can avoid conversations with them. If your co-worker is always nasty to you during lunch, try to take lunch at a different time from them. If a friend’s partner is obnoxious when they are drinking, engage someone else in the group in a separate conversation to avoid them.

  1. Stay in control

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Remember when dealing with someone toxic that you are in control of your own happiness. Do not allow them to spoil your day. Don’t look to them for vindication but instead believe in yourself. And remind yourself that there might be a reason for their nasty behaviour — that does not excuse it, but it might explain why they are acting in a particular way.

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