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Dealing with People You Can’t Stand

  • Dealing with People You Can’t Stand

There are a handful of people I’ve come across in my lifetime that were truly unpleasant to be around, two in particular come to mind. Both of these individuals were internship and work related and completely unavoidable... At some point we all interact with individuals we can’t stand at work, home, school or in the family. It can be a real challenge dealing with people you don’t like; but that’s life. You can learn to successfully handle these interactions and even walk away feeling positive about the experience.

How to Deal With People You Can’t Stand

Tune In: You can’t control the behaviors and emotions of others, but you can manage your own. It is okay to dislike interactions with certain people. Personalities may not mix well together or maybe you value different things. Ask yourself, what is it about this person that sets me off? Think about the things that annoy you and adjust your expectations. “Expecting others to do as you would is setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration,” says Alan A. Cavaiola PhD (psychology professor at Monmouth University, New Jersey). Mentally preparing yourself for interactions make it easier to control your emotions and handle the situation.

Healthy Communication: Stand up for yourself and do it humbly. Try to remain calm when communicating with people you don’t like. It is very easy to get caught up in your emotions and overreact. Take a deep breath and calmly communicate using “I” statements. “When you quickly dismiss my ideas, I don’t feel valued.” “Could you tell me what I could do better to contribute to the group?” You can respectfully disagree with someone and be kind in delivering your message. Make sure you listen to their response without interrupting, everybody wants to be heard. Acknowledge the other person's feelings. You may be surprised to find that he/she was completely unaware of how his/her behavior was affecting you.

Space: Give space when possible. When you can’t stand somebody, you don’t need to take every opportunity to be in the same room with them. You can interact when necessary and move on when done.

Spin it: Take a negative situation and make it positive. Come up with some positive qualities that your difficult person has and focus on them. Sometimes getting to know a person will help you overlook the negative and understand them better. Finding positive attributes will make interactions far more tolerable.

Bottom line, we all need to learn how to deal with people we cannot stand (and we all have our people 😉)!! You can’t avoid every person who gets under your skin, but you can learn the skills to deal with them. For many it might take more than reading this guide to successfully master the techniques. If you live in Wake Forest, A Little Counseling can help you learn to deal with difficult people. You can’t predict all the personalities that will come into your life, but you can have the confidence in knowing that you can interact with anyone!

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American Counseling Association
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