How to be Nice to People you Hate
Of course you don’t hate anyone. Hate is such a harsh and ugly word. At least that’s what I’ve heard people say. Personally, I believe that the word exists for a reason. So yes, there are individuals I hate. The beauty of reading this blog right now is that you can agree that you hate people, too, without feeling guilty about it or being pressured to lie about it. (Or you can stick to your values and claim to only dislike people).*
10 Ways to be Nice to People you Hate
1. Don’t be. In the ideal world, we would all be nice to one another and treat one another with love, kindness, and respect. Unfortunately, there are some folks out there who may not deserve any of that. If you don’t have to interact with the person you hate, bingo, problem solved. You don’t have to be nice to them. Think as many nasty thoughts about them as you like. However, if you actually interact with people you hate, then it’s going to be a lot harder. The bottom line is that you don’t need to go out of your way to be nice. Just be civil.
2. Ignore them. Don’t speak unless spoken too, and avoid eye contact at all costs. Sure, that tension will indefinitely grow and make others uncomfortable. But sometimes, ignoring a person is the most respectful thing you can do.
3. Avoid them. Is Jack having a party and inviting the guy you can’t stand? Don’t go. Who cares about hurt feelings? Jack will understand. The key to avoidance is accurate anticipation. If you know that person is going to be there, it’s pretty simple to avoid them. You can always show up and avoid them while you’re there. I think we all know how to play the avoidance game.
4. Save it up. Be as civil as you possibly can, maintaining all your problems and frustrations with this person. When you get home, let it out – and move on.
5. Don’t stoop. This person probably knows the exact buttons to push to get you going. Don’t take the bait. Take a few deep breaths, and keep telling yourself that you will not let yourself stoop down to their level! By refusing to react to them, you are taking the power back.
6. Find something deeper. Yes, you hate Andy because he pushes your buttons, but there might be something deeper underlying your negative feelings. Think hard and ask yourself if Andy reminds you of someone from your past. Does he remind you of yourself in some way? Exploring some deeper issues surrounding your negative feelings may lead you to something completely unrelated to Andy. If you find that the person you dislike reminds you of yourself or someone else, find ways to resolve those issues, and you will likely feel those negative feelings towards Andy dissipate.
7. Don’t take it personally. If the reason you are having problems with this individual is because they treat you a certain way or they dislike you, don’t take it personally. Chances are that it has very little to do with you and a lot more to do with them. You have no idea what lead up to this for them, and you have no idea what’s going on in their lives. Maybe Rick just cheated on her and she doesn’t know where to put all that anger – so you’re getting it. You never know, so don’t take it personally.
8. Call a Truce. Is it mutual? If there is an outward struggle between you and another individual, it is usually incredibly clear that you dislike, or perhaps even hate, one another. When a relationship gets to this point and you have (both) tried everything you can think of to work it out, call a truce. Acknowledge to one another that you will never get along and you truly dislike one another. Agree to be ok with that and to be civil to one another. This is especially important if you have mutual friends or work together. Agreeing to hate one another can be surprisingly liberating.
9. WWJD? If this is up your alley, use it. The question, What Would Jesus Do, is really just a way to manipulate you into using your beliefs to do what’s “right.” In this case, the manipulation is positive. If Jesus isn’t for you, try Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King, Jr., or some other amazing person. For me, it’s sometimes my best friend, Mary. What would Mary do? To approach an individual I hate from her perspective automatically makes me nicer.
10. Compassion. Stop seeing this person for all the reasons you hate them. While you are with them (or even before) mentally lock up all the reasons you hate them. As you start to interact with them, and all those negative feelings start flooding through you, pause, and remind yourself of some things. Try the following compassion exercise that comes from Harry Palmer’s fascinating book, Resurfacing: Techniques for Exploring Consciousness.
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for (his or her) life.”
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in (his or her) life.”
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair.”
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill (his or her) needs.”
- With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
Have some better ideas? Leave a comment and I’ll update the list and give you credit!
From Huckleberries Online commenters:
Pray for them. What kind of prayers can you offer up? Give them humility, kindness, strength, healing, or any other positive things. Or maybe you’d like to shoot up a prayer asking for them to spill their lunch all over themselves. Either way, prayer can be a helpful tool.
Get over it and Grow UP! As they say, act your age – not your shoe size. Life is too precious to be wasting time and energy on people you don’t get along with it. For those of you aren’t old enough to appreciate the full meaning of this, use the above list to get by.
Put it into perspective. As one commenter noted: “There is so much more going on in the world that matters and is of concern than some petty fight. Darfur. Iraq. A domestic economic crisis. Famil
y. Friends. Spouses. All of these things are more important than not getting along with someone. While some people are busy bickering over what amounts to very little someone else in the world is starving. Someone else is dying. Someone else has a problem that truly matters.”
Want some additional ideas? Check out these blogs:
*This list is not meant to offer advice on dealing with the kind of hate that leads to hate crimes, racism, bigotry, or the like.