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How to Coexist When You Don't Like Each Other

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor shares tips for smooth relationships with friends and encounters with strangers.

Maybe you’re not even sure why, but you feel slightly queasy when you see this person, hear their name, or even watch them walk into the room.

Maybe the other person just doesn’t like the colors you wear, your hairstyle, or the attention that you get.

Whatever it is, your smiles disappear and your joy diminishes in each other's presence. Before your next unsettling episode, try these suggestions. One of you has to take the initiative, and it might as well be you.

Take Control

In a quiet moment, visualize you and the other person seated in arm chairs facing each other. Accept that the reason for your dislike, resentment, jealousy or any other negative attitude is purely speculative. Make the effort to discard your opinions. Then consider these three facts:

  1. There is something about that person you do not understand.
  2. Somebody dislikes you (the same way you dislike that person) for the same reason: he or she does not understand something about you. Consequently you share something in common with that person sitting across from you; you are equals.
  3. Since lack of understanding is a sign of your human limitation, you are allowing your human weakness to rob you of your oomph (energy and love of life). Decide to change that.

By now, you’re ready to forgive yourself for sabotaging your own happiness. The next step is to transform the person, for your own sake, from the threatening figure of oomph destroyer to the friendly face of oomph builder.

Your aim is not to become bosom friends, though that is possible, but rather to take back the power you have previously given that person to bring negativity into your space. In the process, you may learn more and understand enough about the person to actually like something about him or her.

You have the control as you lean (in your imagination) toward the person facing you. Ask the following questions.

(1) How Can I Empower You?

More understanding, more liking.

More understanding, more liking.

Actually, you're asking, "How can I empower you to empower me?" Everyone including your former oomph destroyer has qualities, talents or skills worthy of admiration. If you haven’t noticed any before, clear away your prejudice and stare at the replays of your previous encounters until at least one virtue appears.

Based on the strengths you notice, rehearse one or two compliments that you intend to speak to the person, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it is worth the effort to help you change your attitude toward him or her.

Affirmation, encouragement, approval or any other form of verbal support, gives the receiver a reason to put forth his best behavior. You will begin to look for and notice other positive traits as you begin to feed the person’s sense of worth. Your response to the person’s presence will change for the better, and attitude change is contagious.

(2) What Can I Learn from You?

Recognizing that someone has the ability to share with you helps you accept that person. Your self-imposed discomfort or dislike may be obstructing your view of noble actions you can imitate.

There once was a single mother who worked for low wages and who had more children than she could seemingly manage. Her living was substandard and her well-to-do executive neighbor ignored (disliked) her —until the day the unassuming woman taught her a valuable lesson in parenting. The poor woman watched as one of her neighbor’s two children playing in the backyard shouted to the mother that she would like to have a soda pop. Knowing that the other child would soon ask, the mother came to the door with two soda pops.

Summoning her bravery, the onlooker addressed the mother of two, and asked, “What happens when you only have one bottle of pop? Give the pop to the child who asked, and give her an opportunity to share.” The generous mother was surprised and impressed. She had never thought like that, but it made sense.

The person you dislike for one reason or another, may have the answer to your question or the suggestion that might make your project a success. Treat him or her like someone who has as much value as you have. Your self-worth is reflected in the worth you place on others.

(3) How Can I Serve You?

Nothing inspires care for others like willing service.

Nothing inspires care for others like willing service.

Nothing inspires care for others like willing service; not necessarily scheduled hours of duty, but small acts of kindness. When you supply a need for assistance, the other person often responds in expressions of gratitude, and similar kind gestures. In the end, the good feeling boomerangs.

Offer to lend a book or movie, share a recipe, bring a gift of fruit or flowers from your garden, or simply ask what assistance would be appreciated.

Service calls for humility, the antidote to arrogance which develops when someone justifies a reason for dislike or disrespect. People think about you long after you serve them, and the good thoughts they think, surface in their actions toward you.

Before long, two people who do not like each other will transform into two people who discover likeable qualities where they were not obvious before.

© 2013 Dora Weithers


ziyena from the Somewhere Out There on July 15, 2013:

Don't I know it! I wish there was a way, Iv'e tried being nice, everything ... I guess it's just that person's problem, but I will still take your HUB to heart!!! Thank you again ... much wisdom

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 15, 2013:

Ziyena, hope you find a suggestion that works. Life is so much easier when you respond appropriately to provocation.

ziyena from the Somewhere Out There on July 15, 2013:

Wow thank you thank you thank you! I've been having this difficulty with my significant other's relative ... she's always seems to be jumping to conclusions, or judging or placing some sort of blame on me when she doesn't even know me. I tire of the drama, and just recently her verbal abuse. How many times do you give a person a chance? Great Hub, voting UP UP UP

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 28, 2013:

Shea, I appreciate your honesty. You make me smile, too, 'cause I know what you mean. Glad you'll try.

shea duane from new jersey on February 27, 2013:

Great advice, but probably the most difficult thing in the world to actually do! It's hard to put my rational mind above my sometimes raging emotions... but worth trying.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 18, 2013:

Beth, thank YOU very much for reading and taking the time to comment. Glad you liked it.

Beth37 on February 18, 2013:

Yes, very good advise! Thank you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 31, 2013:

Strictly dating, I appreciate your ongoing support. Thanks for your kind comment.

StrictlyQuotes from Australia on January 31, 2013:

Great advice as always MsDora!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 24, 2013:

Thanks, unknown spy. I appreciate you.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on January 24, 2013:


Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 24, 2013:

Happy for you, DDE, that you found a good friend in your neighbor. Never underestimate the change that can result from understanding someone you think you don't like.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 24, 2013:

Valuable points here and this has happened to me with one specific neighbor, now we are good friends, definitely after spending time I understood and got to know the person more.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 16, 2013:

Thanks for your affirmation, Rajan Jolly. Thanks also for the votes. I appreciate you.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 15, 2013:

Most people I believe have faced resentment towards someone at some point in their life. Your tips are very positive in eliminating these negative thoughts, turning it around to benefits relationships and helping one to lead a more positive life experience.

Well done MsDora.

Voted up, interesting and useful.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 15, 2013:

Thanks for your comment. Glad to help when we experience "this kind of feeling."

Life Under Construction from Neverland on January 15, 2013:

happens a lot..everyone experience this kind of feeling once in their life. thanks for the great hub

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 14, 2013:

Travel_man, I miss you. Thanks for sharing from your own experience. "Resiliency is my weapon" sounds like it could be your motto. Glad you found a successful way to deal with dislikes. All the best going forward!

Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on January 14, 2013:

We have our own individual differences. Starting from the family, I have my likes and dislikes with my parents, sisters and brothers. Yet, it can be talked upon, so all those misinterpretations are all water under the bridge.

But with the present situation that I am in (as a seafarer), I am always bombarded by the presence of overpowering officers and annoying ratings.

As a cook, I am always in hot water as I often undergo scrutiny with the food I prepare.

It's inevitable. Resiliency is my weapon. And in Filipino term, we call it pakikisama (camaraderie) just to jive and stay longer in my profession.

Thanks again, Ms. D. for this hub.:)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 12, 2013:

Ebonny, thanks for sharing your story and for confirming that the plan works. I really appreciate you.

Ebonny from UK on January 11, 2013:

Reading this brings to mind a lunch I attended some years back. When we got to the dinner table to my dismay the seating plan dictated I was seated directly opposite the person I least liked out of the group of 20 or so people. I also felt sure that this person wasn't keen on me either.

Anyway, as there was no getting away from them I decided I would bite the bullet and straightaway made a conscious effort to stike up a conversation with him. I think he was a little taken aback at my friendliness but he responded well and within a few minutes we both relaxed a bit and through the course of the evening became less and less suspicious of one another and ended up having a great rapport and genuinely enjoying one another's company. I could never have imagined this happening but it just goes to show that what you say in your hub is right - if we give people a chance we may well find that they are indeed very likeable. We didn't become the best of friends but when we occasionally bumped into one another from that point onward there was no more avoiding eye contact or awkwardness. Instead, we were very comfortable around each other.

Thanks for this timely reminder to give people the benefit of the doubt and take the initiative to behave positively towards them.

You are right - it really does work. Voted up and more.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 10, 2013:

Denise, thanks for validating my treatment of the issue. You're right about having this problem with family members. It works with them too.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on January 10, 2013:

This happens more often than we like to think. Even members of our own families have personality characteristics that are hard to live with. The suggestion to picture yourself seated in front of that person is a great way to deal with it before the actual event. The visualization helps you to recognize and understand your own feelings. The three questions, "How can I empower you?" "What can I learn from you?" and "How can I serve you?" are right on target in helping overcome them. They are a great alternative to arguing, fighting, and ostracism.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 10, 2013:

Thanks to you Chitrangda for your input, including your kind comment. You're right in reminding us that we all have negatives that someone may dislike. Open-mindedness can save us a lot of worries.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 10, 2013:

Nice and interesting hub.

Most of us face this problem sometime in life, that is having to coexist with someone we may not like. Your say on the matter is practical and useful.

With an open mind, we must try to look at the positives of a person. At the same time we must not forget that even we may have some negatives within ourselves.

Thanks for sharing this interesting hub.

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