Nobody says that you have to like everyone. That is as unrealistic as saying you can always influence others. You can’t.
But if you want to influence people, it helps enormously if they like you. People tend to like people who like them. This creates an immediate challenge if you want to influence people you don’t like.
There are few people fortunate enough to only work with people they like, so here are a few ideas on how to improve your success when trying to influence characters you find odious.
Friends and Friendliness
There is a big difference between these two words. It is much easier to be friendly with someone you don’t like than to be friends. I recall coaching someone who struggled to interact with a group of people because she thought their behaviour was distasteful. She couldn’t even begin to imagine being friends with them. Once she thought it through, she found it easy to be friendly and saw an immediate increase in her influence.
Sometimes you don’t like people because you find the way they go about work or life to be completely wrong. The way they talk to people and the things they do are a million miles from the way you are. This can be accompanied by a sense of superiority as you look down on these gross and distasteful individuals.
If this attitude has found its way into your head, you need to exorcise it. Sure they do things differently ― it’s because they are different. Should everyone really be just like you? Cut them some slack and chill out a little. If you don’t, they will spot your contempt the minute you walk through the door.
Too often we focus on the negative. You’ve made a decision that you don’t like someone, but does that mean you dislike everything about them? The amplification of the bad traits (in your view) is a natural distortion. Time to adjust the balance a little?
Spend a little time reflecting on what you do like, admire or respect about them. The capability to appreciate and work with difference is an increasingly valuable life skill, as we are being exposed to more and more diversity in our connected worlds.
Try to keep these positive thoughts at the forefront of your mind when you are engaging with them.
Cut the Gossip
If you are talking negatively about them behind their back, three things are likely to happen. Firstly, you are exposing yourself to the risk of being caught bad-mouthing them. Secondly, you are strengthening your negative feelings each time you repeat your complaints. And finally, you portrait yourself in a negative light to those around you. “If she’s saying that about Billy, what might she be saying about me?”
Enough said. Just stop it.
Keep your focus on the matter in hand rather than drifting off into your fantasy world of thoughts and feelings. Easier said than done, I know; but the more focused you stay on achieving your goal, the facts and problem solving, the less you will display to them that you have a problem.
You Have a Problem
Yes, you do ― if you want to influence someone you don’t like and you are finding it difficult because you don’t get on well with them. Realising this and making the decision to take responsibility for doing something about it is by far the best thing you can do here. You have within you the power to think and act differently and solve your problem. While you leave it (in our mind) as their problem, you cannot do too much about it, apart from moan and complain.
So, take this opportunity to rise above petty differences, celebrate diversity and get the job done!
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