How to Deal with People You Don't Like

relationships Nov 22, 2020

Whether you like it or not, there are people in this world that you have to accept and learn to get along with.

But it's tough, they trigger you whenever they're in your presence, and it can take something as simple as a look that sends you into a spiral for the rest of the day.

Imagine how much time and energy you've spent trying not to strangle...I mean trying not to cause friction in the workplace or with your family.

Managing those kinds of emotions draws on the same energy you need to be diverting into self-care, growth and people you love.

Sadly I'm not in the business of selling magic wands to wave the evil villain in your story away.

But, I've been there, and I get how important it is for you not to be distracted by these relationships as you try to not only survive the day but also to thrive so, you can keep reaching for your goals and show up for those who do deserve your time, with a little more energy in the tank.

Here's some simple advice for a less stressful life.

You're not the only hero in your story

Humans interact and see the world through stories, and to have a successful story, you must have a hero and a villain.

Now obviously you wake every morning wanting to play the hero and win the day the best way you can. So when Dastardly Dave turns up to ruin that, you instantly give him that role to play.

Here's my point, Dave didn't wake up a villain, he woke up as the hero in his own story, trying to win the day just like you. And just like you, he's trying to navigate Gotham the best way he knows how.

Before you put up wanted photos and tarnish Dave as the Joker to your Batman, imagine that Dave is not intent on trying to hurt you, and think about him as a human with insecurities and challenges, just like you.

Maybe he doesn't know what his superpower in life is and he's insecure about his abilities. Or maybe Dave has some painful family problems that are causing massive levels of stress, work is pushing him over the edge (I'm sure you've been there) and you happen to be in the firing line because you've bumped heads.

Lead with compassion and try to understand your worst of enemies.

Environments cue behaviours

Our wellbeing doesn't stop at our skin. We are "coupled" to our environments which often will dictate how we act, feel and respond.

What happens when you walk into a Church? You whisper. That's environment cueing behaviour.

Think about how different you act in work versus outside of work. Now imagine someone you know at work that you like, and other people do not. Have you ever recommended that that person should go to the pub with them as they're "completely different outside of work?"

Here's my point. Intuitively you know that if you hang out with people in different places and situations, you will see another side to them. Let's revisit Dave. Does he trigger you just over emails, at team meetings or whenever you're with a specific group of people, say other family members if Dave is family?

If you can pinpoint where the triggering behaviour occurs, try changing up the environments you interact in.

  • Stop emailing, start speaking.
  • Stop side-eyeing over team meetings and ask for a one to one chat.
  • Stop meeting twice a year at family gatherings and catch up for some quality time alone.

Uncouple from the environments that may be triggering the problem and see if that leads you to the compassion we explored in tip one.

Lead with vulnerability

Now you've stopped seeing Dave as a villain, and you're finding new ways of engaging with him, discover that tiny bit of courage you need to speak up and share how you feel.

I know, it's scary, but bottling it up hasn't done you great so far. So you can either let it keep building up until you go nuclear, or you can take control of the moment you decide to share, in a more controlled and calm manner.

The way back to someone is though vulnerability, and if you share how you feel with guard rails on, you may find your pleasantly surprised.

Or maybe you're not, but you tried, and it doesn't mean you shouldn't try more than once.

What you will want to do is say "I knew it! I told you Dave was an evil b******"

That's because you're a storyteller and you'll do everything possible to back your side of the story because the hero always needs to win the day.

Bonus tip

If you do decide to talk to Dave,

  • Get a good nights sleep, so you have all the energy you need to manage the mental game of chess ahead of you
  • Arrange to speak earlier in the day, when your ability to regulate your emotions is at it's strongest
  • Remove barriers and go for a walk if possible, standing shoulder to shoulder and moving towards a new future
  • When Dave is speaking, and you're already thinking of your response, that's not active listening
  • Notice your breath as you talk. When its Daves turn, close your mouth and breath slowly through your nose

I'm sure you have goals in life, and some of those goals will mean having to work with or be in the company of humans you may not gel with at first.

If you don't learn how to manage these relationships without hate, you will find getting from where you are to where you've always wanted to be, a lot harder than it needs to be as you waste valuable energy.

  • Take a moment to rethink your approach
  • lean into the vulnerability and save valuable time
  • Avoid the weight of negative emotions

Until next time friend, keep it simple, don't make life harder than it needs to be and ensure you keep taking action to make your personal and professional development enjoyable


" I give you back the time, energy and focus for getting results across your personal and professional goals, while still being able to show up for family and friends. These consistent and lasting results come from practical tools and strategies that are quickly implemented around your unique challenges, busy day and are realistic to maintain, even when life is hard. Your result is a life that is simpler, easier and more enjoyable."






Your wellbeing is your most powerful asset. Join our growing community and subscribe to Wellbeing Made Simple, a weekly blog and newsletter with insights and tools to make your life simpler, easier and enjoyable.

I hate SPAM. I will never sell your information, for any reason.