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Here is a dose of reality: not everyone is going to like you and you are not going to like everyone. There are just some people that will be difficult for you to get along with. In a perfect world, we would all get along. everyone would be kind, considerate and generous. And we would all understand one another. But, we don’t live in that perfect world. Some people drive us loony and probably drive others crazy as well. The ones we find irritating just don’t get us.  They judge us, question everything we do and, in our minds, are obnoxious.

So what are we to do? How can we get along with these irritating people?

The answer is that we can’t get along with everybody. The best that we can hope to do is to make the most of what we have to make the best of every situation. With this in mind, here are 8 strategies to help you cope with people that are difficult to get along with.  Hopefully, these tips will give you some insight into how to navigate uncomfortable situations with annoying people.

In a nut shell:

  • Be courteous
  • Choose your battles
  • Be aware of your emotions
  • Find common ground
  • Look in the mirror
  • Control what you can control
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Have healthy boundaries

1. Be Courteous

Let’s start with the premise that everyone deserves to be treated with politeness and respect. We need to treat others as we want to be treated and we should expect the same as well. At the same time as we are striving to be courteous and civil, we need to be clear about how we expect to be treated. We can be kind to the other person without having to budge on our position. Blogger Neal Patel writes that we can learn to develop a “diplomatic poker face” even when, inside, we might feel anger and frustration rising up.  Learning to be tactful and neutral can help us curb our own feelings.

Turning the tables on the “disagreeable” person is an effective tactic. When the person is critical, abusive or uncooperative. we can respond with grace. We don’t have to play the same game. We can send the ball into their court by shifting the focus onto them in a kind but assertive way by asking them specific questions that relate to the issue at hand.  Courtesy and grace under fire will earn you respect from them.


2. Choose Your Battles

Not everything has to become a battleground. Sometimes it is just easier and wiser to let things go. Not everything is worthy of our time and energy, and it is best to sidestep these issues and focus on what is important. Often, battles are just a matter of personality conflict or misunderstandings. Many of these battles, if they are situational will eventually run out of steam and fetter out.  Needless petty conflicts can drag us down emotionally and physically and prevent us from doing what is important. They can distract us and sap our mental and emotional energy.  Any situation or person that is dragging you down and causing you emotional stress needs to be dealt with swiftly and then tossed into the “completed” bin, not to be revisited.


3. Be Aware of Your Emotions

It is important to be cognizant of your emotional landscape. Emotions are our guideposts and warning signals that something might not be right. You need to stay connected with how you are feeling and be aware of your “hot buttons”. Perhaps even the physical presence of someone you find to be disagreeable causes your temperature to rise and you are ready in defense mode. But emotions have a purpose and we need to allow them to have space. When irritation or frustration begin to rise up, feel the motion, recognize it and then let it go. This is easier said than done, of course, but with practice, it will get easier.

One tip to dealing with these emotional reactions is to become proactive and develop strategies about how you will deal with the situation the next time it occurs. Perhaps you can find a way to disengage physically or mentally.  Perhaps you can enlist a friend to recognize the cue and diffuse the situation with distractions.  Always monitor your emotions and your reactions and be proactive about diffusing future disagreeable encounters.


4. Find Common Ground

We don’t really know a person until we know them, right? We can make assumptions about people and assign motives to them, but these are all a reflection of how we think. I realize that it is counterintuitive and goes against every fiber of our being to do so, but what if we reached out to that “annoying” person and decided to spend more time with them to get to know them? “Ouch!, you say, why would I even want to do that”? Because the best way to get to know someone is by sending time with them. Maybe, just maybe, you will begin to understand them better. Maybe you will come away with a completely different way of seeing them. At the very least, you might begin to develop some compassion and empathy for them. Everyone has a story and maybe it is time to hear theirs.


5. Look at the Man in the Mirror

It might be possible that what you don’t like in the other person is something that you, personally are struggling with. Perhaps their very presence, actions or attitude triggers something inside of you from your past or current frustrations, so it is important to do an internal checkup and ask the tough questions such as “Why does this particular person trigger me?”  “Why do I find him or her so annoying and difficult t get along with?” Some other things we might want to consider are whether we feel envious of them, or are we resentful of them or something they have said or done. Do they represent something we would like to be, but are unable to achieve?

Perception is not reality and how we perceive the “cantankerous” person might simply be a reflection of our own attitudes and outlook on life in general. It might be that we are attributing unfair and false motives to this person without actually having any information. Assumptions about other people can destroy current or potential relationships.


6. Control what You Can Control

It is true, as much as we hate to admit it, that we can not control other people”s behavior. We can’t “fix” them, or “straighten” them out. We can’t “get them” to do anything. You have heard this before, many times, I am sure, but the only person we can control is ourselves. The only attitudes and behaviors we can fix are our own. We can also have control over our feelings and emotions and how we choose to react. No one has the power to control us or how we feel. When someone gets on our nerves we may feel like they are making us feel frustrated, but in reality, we have allowed ourselves to feel frustrated.

Because we can only control ourselves, why not do this? Why not focus on fixing our own attitudes, behaviors, and choices?  We can choose how we want to feel about any person and that person has nothing to do with our choice. When we decide to change how we think about another person and if our actions and words follow suit, we might be pleasantly surprised to find that, just maybe, he is not so annoying after all.


7. Don’t Take Things Personally

Nothing that people say, or do, has anything to do with you or me. People act and speak because of themselves – what they think, how they feel and what they interpret.  They react to their own feelings and ways of seeing the world around them. It may feel like we are the cause of their frustration, but, in reality, we just happen to be in the crossfire of their current emotions. It is nothing personal, but, of course, humans being humans, they will always try to find a source of their frustration outside of themselves.

You do not have to become involved in an emotional ping-pong game. You don’t even have to sit in the bleachers. The best way to diffuse tense or volatile situations is to focus only on facts, not opinions and bring the discussion to the main focus. Because you know that, how a person behaves, has nothing to do with you, you can ignore the overreactions and speak to the issue calmly using facts and asking questions.


8. Have Healthy Boundaries

Like your reactions and behaviors, having boundaries is also your responsibility and no one else’s.  You can choose how much time you spend with a person you find annoying or irritating.  Even if you have to be in their presence physically, you can mentally and emotionally choose to distance yourself. You can choose to build up a mental and emotional barrier to protect your own well being. Furthermore, you can choose not to engage in discussions or situations that have the potential to drag out, become futile, time-wasting or even very tense.  You can simply assert that you will be putting this discussion on the table for now while you focus on activities that are worthy of your time.

Of course,  not everyone is willing to accept our boundaries and some will try to test them or scoff at them. But, once again, you are in control of you and they are in control of them. Let the haters be haters and move on.



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Check out this blog post 10 Ways to Get People to Like You


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