It may be socially unacceptable to admit, but we all hate someone.
When you can avoid that person, it isn’t so bad.
But when circumstance forces you to see that person on a regular basis, it can take a big toll on your sanity.
Interactions can be awkward and holding in your feelings about the person can be difficult. And yes, it may feel good for a moment to let it all out in an explosion of anger, but you know in the long term it will only make things worse.
So you feel out of control, stepping on eggshells, trying to prevent a major confrontation.
It’s like living in a straight jacket.
No matter what, the situation is going to suck, but there are a few things you can do to maintain politeness and make it suck a little less.
1. Take Topics Off the Table
You may hate the subjects the person always seems to want to talk about.
If so, same.
Whether it’s that distant uncle who constantly talks about the moon landing being fake, the coworker who can’t stop mentioning political beliefs, or the classmate who thinks the earth is flat and all science is propaganda (that last example is all too real), there’s nothing wrong with not engaging.
Don’t mention your beliefs, because it will only lead to a debate. And debating a person you can’t stand is probably not what you want.
Not to mention, research shows that challenging people’s beliefs tend to make them hold those beliefs more deeply. Your chances of changing their mind is negligible.
If it’s someone you have to interact with in a social setting, just tell them their thoughts are interesting and change the topic. Better yet, start up a side conversation with someone else if it’s possible.
If you’re meeting with this person at work or school, you can politely tell them you’d like to focus on the project at hand instead of discussing unrelated topics.
Just try to be subtle and courteous. You risk making the tension worse if the other person realizes you just want them to stop talking…even if that’s what you’re really wishing.
2. Go in With a Limit
Spending time with people you hate has the nasty habit of feeling like an eternity. But even if you can’t completely control having to see someone, you can exert some control over the amount of time you spend with them.
So think of a number going in.
If it’s a family dinner, how long does it usually last? 3-4 hours? Ok, so you only have to put up with that person for 3-4 hours before you get a break.
If you need to, leave early. There are all kinds of excuses you can use.
If it’s work or school, what is the minimum number of interactions you have to have with that person? Do you really need to interact with them every day? Can you keep most interactions to text or email?
Sticking to the minimum is perfectly ok and perfectly within your rights.
If other people want to out with that person more than makes you comfortable, let them know how you feel in a way that is kind and accepting of their relationship with that person.
Don’t hand out ultimatums.
The only reason to let them know is so you can reassure the person you care about that they are not the one you want to avoid.
You’ll have to be the one to decide the right balance between spending time with the person you like and avoiding the person you dislike.
3. Don’t Take Things Personally
If the dislike goes both ways, the tension may show up in the way the other person talks to or about you. Even if they seem to like you, they may lack the social graces to keep unsolicited opinions to themselves.
I get it, it’s frustrating!
Recognize that what the other person thinks of you doesn’t really matter. You don’t like them, so why have an expectation that they’ll gush over you?
Ignore what they have to say and be as cordial as possible.
Don’t feel the need to defend yourself or tear them down as much as they do to you. Stick to rhetoric you can be proud of once the anger induced adrenaline leaves your bloodstream.
4. Reward Yourself
When you’re forced to interact with people you hate on a regular basis, it can be stressful to put it mildly.
But remember, the only person you’re stuck with 24/7 is you. When you get a break from the person you don’t want to be around, do something nice for yourself.
Make time to visit the people you care about. Take a nice bath. Make yourself a nice meal. Spend time on hobbies you love.
Do whatever you can to reduce the stress and invest in your own happiness.
5. Don’t Let Them Take Up Space in Your Brain
When I really can’t stand being around someone, I find myself getting agitated before I have to see the person and for far too long afterward.
Letting someone else take up that much of your mental energy is useless.
Instead of focusing on the short spurts of time you have to put up with the person, actively change your thoughts to people you love and why you love them.
Use that mental energy to think about how you can spend more time with the important people and show them that you care.
Until you develop X-men style mind control powers, the only person you control in this world is you. So do what you can to focus on your own goals and the relationships you want to nurture.
Doing these things isn’t easy. It will take time, practice, and a lot of patience to get right. In the meantime, know that I understand how drained and frustrated you feel.
I have only recently gotten reprieve from having to see my tormentor on a regular basis, and I have to live with the fact that this person will always be in my life, and it is completely out of my control.
If you have a story you want to share, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
See you next week, but until then, good luck choosing to make life a little better!