In a perfect world, each person we interact with would be nice, kind, considerate, mindful, generous, and more. They would get our jokes and we would get theirs. We would all thrive in a convivial atmosphere where no one was ever cross, upset, or maligned.
However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Some people drive us crazy, and we (admittedly) drive a few mad as well. Those we dislike are inconsiderate, rushed, malign our character, question our motives, or just don’t get our jokes at all — but expect us to laugh at all theirs.
You might wonder whether it is possible to be fair to someone who ruffles you all the time, or someone you’d rather avoid eating lunch with. You might wonder if you should learn to like every person you meet.
According to Robert Sutton (a professor of management science at Stanford University), it’s neither possible — nor even ideal — to build a team comprised entirely of people you’d invite to a backyard barbecue.
That’s why smart people make the most out of people they don’t like. Here’s how they do it.
1. They accept that they are not going to like everyone.
Sometimes we get caught in the trap of thinking that we are nice people. We think that we are going to like everyone we interact with — even when that’s not going to happen. It’s inevitable you will encounter difficult people who oppose what you think. Smart people know this. They also recognize that conflicts or disagreements are a result of differences in values.
That person you don’t like is not intrinsically a bad human. The reason you don’t get along is because you have different values, and that difference creates judgment. Once you accept that not everyone will like you, and you won’t like everyone because of a difference in values, the realization can take the emotion out of the situation. That may even result in getting along better by agreeing to disagree.
2. They bear with (not ignore or dismiss) those they don’t like.
Sure, you may cringe at his constant criticism, grit your teeth at her lousy jokes, or shake your head at the way he hovers around her all the time, but feeling less than affectionate to someone might not be the worst thing. “From a performance standpoint, liking the people you manage too much is a bigger problem than liking them too little,” says Sutton.
“You need people who have different points of view and aren’t afraid to argue,” Sutton adds. “They are the kind of people who stop the organization from doing stupid things.” It may not be easy, but bear with them. It is often those who challenge or provoke us that prompt us to new insights and help propel the group to success. Remember, you are not perfect either, yet people still tolerate you.
3. They treat those they don’t like with civility.
Whatever your feelings are for someone, that person will be highly attuned to your attitude and behavior, and will likely reflect it back to you. If you are rude to them, they will likely throw away all decorum and be rude to you too. The onus; therefore, is on you to remain fair, impartial, and composed.
“Cultivating a diplomatic poker face is important. You need to be able to come across as professional and positive,” says Ben Dattner, an organizational psychologist and author of The Blame Game. This way you won’t stoop to their level or be sucked into acting the way they do.
4. They check their own expectations.
It’s not uncommon for people to have unrealistic expectations about others. We may expect others to act exactly as we would, or say the things that we might say in a certain situation. However, that’s not realistic. “People have ingrained personality traits that are going to largely determine how they react,” says Alan A. Cavaiola, PhD (psychology professor at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey). “Expecting others to do as you would do is setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration.”
If a person causes you to feel exactly the same way every time, adjust your expectations appropriately. This way you’ll be psychologically prepared and their behavior will not catch you by surprise. Smart people do this all the time. They’re not always surprised by a dis-likable person’s behavior.
5. They turn inwards and focus on themselves.
No matter what you try, some people can still really get under our skin. It’s important that you learn how to handle your frustration when dealing with someone who annoys you. Instead of thinking about how irritating that person is, focus on why you are reacting the way you are. Sometimes what we don’t like in others is frequently what we don’t like in ourselves. Besides, they didn’t create the button, they’re only pushing it.
Pinpoint the triggers that might be complicating your feelings. You may then be able to anticipate, soften, or even alter your reaction. Remember: it’s easier to change your perceptions, attitude, and behavior than to ask someone to be a different kind of person.
6. They pause and take a deep breath.
Some personality characteristics may always set you off, says Kathleen Bartle (a California-based conflict consultant). Maybe it’s the colleague who regularly misses deadlines, or the guy who tells off-color jokes. Take a look at what sets you off and who’s pushing your buttons. That way, Bartle says, you can prepare for when it happens again.
According to her, “If you can pause and get a grip on your adrenaline pump and go to the intellectual part of your brain, you’ll be better able to have a conversation and to skip over the judgment.” A deep breath and one big step back can also help to calm you down and protect you from overreaction, thereby allowing you to proceed with a slightly more open mind and heart.
7. They voice their own needs.
If certain people constantly tick you off, calmly let them know that their manner of behavior or communication style is a problem for you. Avoid accusatory language and instead try the “When you . . . I feel . . .” formula. For example, Cacaiola advises you to tell that person, “When you cut me off in meetings, I feel like you don’t value my contributions.” Then, take a moment and wait for their response.
You may find that the other person didn’t realize you weren’t finished speaking, or your colleague was so excited about your idea that she enthusiastically jumped into the conversation.
8. They allow space between them.
If all else fails, smart people allow space between themselves and those they don’t like. Excuse yourself and go on your way. If at work, move to another room or sit at the other end of the conference table. With a bit of distance, perspective, and empathy, you may be able to come back and interact both with those people you like and those you don’t like as if unfazed.
Of course, everything would be easier if we could wish people we don’t like away. Too bad we all know that’s not how life works.
Featured photo credit: sachman75 via flickr.com
Have you ever felt like giving up on your goal after months (or years) of pursuing it with no results? You’re not alone.
I once worked 14-hour days for 6 months to create an online course and prepare for its launch. When the big day to launch the course arrived, I was rewarded for my hard work with…nothing.Not one sale. The disappointment weighed so heavily on me that I considered quitting. After days drowning in dark feelings, I decided to do whatever it took to regain my motivation.
Here are the 7 steps to stay motivated even when you see no results:
1. Stop what you’re doing
If you insist on getting back to work when you are disappointed and unmotivated, you’re likely to make the same mistakes that prevented your success. Instead, take a day or even a week off to recharge and clear your mind. In my case, I drove to the coast and went for a long walk along the beach. The energy of the crashing waves took my mind away from what had happened.
2. Keep failure in perspective
Your efforts haven’t panned out. But is your goal a lost case? Contemplate whether the failure lies in the way you’re attempting to achieve your goal rather than in the goal itself. I realized I had made costly mistakes marketing my course, but this didn’t mean that I couldn’t succeed with this or future online training programs, or that my business was doomed.
“A failure is not a loss. It’s a gain. You learn. You change. You grow.” – Michael Barata
3. Take inventory of what you have accomplished
It’s easy to forget how far you have come. Take a moment to search through old emails, documents or journals. Did you know as much as you know now? Most likely, you’ll realize that you have grown personally and professionally over time. You have probably acquired new skills and gained knowledge that position you for future success. It’s time to give yourself a pat on the back! I searched for the first course I produced, and laughed at how rudimentary it was compared to my new programs. I had grown. I had improved. As a result, I felt my confidence soar.
4. Ask for feedback
Before you take further action, reach out to those who support you, especially your mentors. Ask them for candid feedback on what they think you could do better, and listen without judging or becoming offended. External feedback coupled with your own insights will help you pinpoint what isn’t working and will inspire you to find new ways to achieve what you desire. I was lucky to count on the members of my mastermind, who offered their ideas on what I could do better to launch my online program.
5. Create a detailed plan to change what isn’t working
When you lack results, you might feel that you have lost control of your destiny, which is a sure motivation killer. A detailed plan of action is essential to regain a feeling of control—and your motivation. I reworked my entire marketing plan, and devised more engaging ways to reach my audience. The clearer my plan became, the more empowered I felt to succeed.
List every action that isn’t yielding results, and ask yourself whether you can completely eliminate the task or change the way you are approaching it. For example, if you are in business on your own and social media isn’t working to get new clients, either switch your efforts to another lead generation tool or change your social media strategy.
6. Execute a quick-action item
Nothing feels better than accomplishing something that will help you achieve your goal. Find a quick task that is likely to yield positive results. Your sense of accomplishment will fuel your enthusiasm for what you do.My new marketing plan included contacting a list of possible joint-venture partners.
I reached out to most people on my list in a day, and the next day I was rewarded with my first few positive answers. I felt a renewed sense of hope in my own ability to succeed. What could you do today to build the positive momentum you need to stay motivated? Take immediate action.
“The path to success is to take massive determined action.” – Anthony Robbins
7. Celebrate small successes
No matter what little progress you make, congratulate yourself for what you have accomplished. You will feel empowered to take the next step in your plan, and if you continue celebrating your wins, you’ll create a self-perpetuating cycle of winning actions. I created an Excel log with my small successes, which I checked daily. As the success log expanded, so did my confidence and motivation.
Remain patient as you work toward your goal, and remember that undesirable results can become opportunities to grow and to find new, exciting ways to succeed.
What will you do first to change your current situation and regain your motivation? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
Author: Cloris Kylie