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How to Get Along With Disagreeable People

by Joshua Duvauchelle

Whether you have a difficult co-worker who shoots down all of your ideas in meetings or a faux "friend" who is more foe than ally, your life -- like many people's lives -- is scattered with disagreeable people. While everyone's story is different and the reason you and this other person don't agree is likely complex and convoluted, several general communication and relationship strategies can help you get along as best as you can.

Don't Run and Hide

While some people may say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, familiarity may actually create affection. The more you are exposed to someone, and the more they are exposed to you, the more attractive and intelligent you may find each other. While it would seem easier to duck and hide when your disagreeable co-worker walks past your cubicle or skip a family dinner if an uncle who gets on your nerves is attending, increased exposure will slowly help you view each other more positively on a subconscious level. This increasingly positive viewpoint will slowly trickle into your interactions and help you to get along.

Watch Your Words

A lot of conflict, whether it's in a friendship, office setting or among family members, comes down to how you phrase your words. When discussing something with a disagreeable person, talk about potential conflict triggers by using phrases that start with "I" instead of statements that begin with "You." This helps you communicate your viewpoint without pointing the finger at someone else. For example, if you have a "frienemy" who constantly owes you money and doesn't pay you back on time, say something like "I never got your check in the mail" instead of "You did not send me my money." By reducing the finger-pointing and talking about the actual issue, both of you can hopefully achieve resolution without anyone feeling judged or criticized.

Keep the Past in the Past

People tend to recall the times they have been wronged by a difficult person, creating a mental scoreboard about the past. Unfortunately, this makes it that much harder to stay in the present and not allow negative thoughts and bad memories to affect how you treat someone today. The constant cycle of repeating the mental history makes it harder for both sides in a difficult relationship to forge positive bonds. If you find yourself going over all the bad things from your collective past with this disagreeable person, try to stop the mental regurgitation and counter it with positive thoughts. Was there ever a time that you felt happy, safe or simply at peace while in the presence of this person? Was there a time when this person helped you or showed kindness to you or someone you know? This slowly helps you create emotional and mental bonds that assist in the process of getting along and getting over the past.

Add a Twist of Positivity

When you are with a disagreeable person, conflict typically crops up over viewpoints or decision-making. Your conflict with a co-worker may mean that he tries to criticize and shoot down your ideas on a project. When stating your viewpoints, always add a clarifying statement that underscores the positive reason why you want a certain thing to happen. This helps bring the discussion down to the core level of what creates good for everyone, which even the most disagreeable person may be able to connect with. For example, when planning a staff birthday party, state your plans and then add a positive intention statement such as, "Because I really want everyone in our office to have a great time." Likewise, when the person you're having a conflict with makes a statement, try to understand the positive intent behind it. Slowly, you can start to find a common ground over positive intentions.

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