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How to Be Nice to Someone You Hate or Don't Respect

by Elise Wile

Whether it's your aunt who can't keep her mouth shut about the weight you've gained -- or your boss who insists that you clock out when you go to the restroom -- it can be difficult to be civil when others act in ways that trigger your temper. While you won't be able to do a thing to change such a person's behavior, you can change your own thoughts and actions so that getting along with difficult people becomes possible, if not easy.

Fake it until you make it. You don't have to like someone to smile at them and wish them a nice day. If the brilliant actor Jim Carey can repeatedly play the role of dim-witted dolts, you can put aside the ugly thoughts you are having about your nit-picking neighbor and complement him on the new deck he built.

Identify the reason for your hatred. In a February 2010 article in "Psychology Today,” neuropsychologist Rick Hanson notes that aggressive feelings can arise when a person feels threatened. Even a slight sense of anxiety over your coworker's propensity to dominate meetings, for example, can trigger feelings of dislike. When you address the root cause of the reason you cannot respect her, your interactions with her are likely to improve, because you have stepped away from a position of reacting to one of personal awareness.

Change your thoughts about the person. If you find yourself mulling over the fact that your brother-in-law is a pompous know-it-all, switch gears and focus on what a good provider he is for your sister's family, or his remarkable ability to repair almost any mechanical problem. Use affirmations to break a pattern of negative thoughts, advises clinical psychologist Carmen Harra in a July 2013 article in the "Huffington Post." You might say something like, "I feel love for each person I encounter each day, " or "I honor and respect all beings."

Take a couple of deep breaths before you see the person. Feelings of hate trigger a "fight or flight" response, says Hanson. A few slow, deep breaths from your belly activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which will calm you down and enable you to treat the aggravating person with respect.

Think of how you would like to be treated and interact with the person you dislike in that way. Refuse to allow your feelings to change the way you would ordinarily interact with people. Doing so allows them power over your behavior and can result in you feelings victimized when you are around them -- simply because you don't feel in control.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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