Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Article discussing the dilemma of trying to get along with everyone.
Well, can’t we?
If you’ve ever had to work, socialise or (forbid) become even a distant relative of someone you simply can’t stand, no doubt this question may have popped up in your head at some point.
Some people spend their whole lives simply trying to get everyone to like them. Whether this means they’re shy, retiring wallflowers afraid of being noticed and criticised; or brash, pushy in-your-face types who feel the need to show off just how awesome they are, you will encounter them at some point.
If you’re spending excessive time wondering why you can’t get along with someone, it may be a good time for you to question whether you yourself are afraid of others ‘ disapproval. If the offending person is someone you have to work with, a friend of your partner’s or close friend’s, or a family member, then you may have to find ways to deal with the situation. However, if the person is simply an acquaintance who you will never have to speak a word to in the rest of your life, then why worry if they like you or not?
To the majority of us, hearing that someone simply cannot stand your presence is a bit of a slap in the ego. But look at it like this: they’re chalk, you’re cheese. Or vice versa. Some people just are not designed to be around each other. If you are an introvert, sometimes you will find an extravert getting in your face. Perhaps they have no malicious intention toward you, they may even seriously like you. But if they don’t respect your boundaries (simply because they may not understand them – although I do not wish to make any generalisations here), you may find them wearing on your spirit, and wondering why this is, especially if you know plenty of people who find the person fascinating. If you are faced with this problem, simply tell them that you need a lot more alone time, quiet conversation, space, different activities, or whatever it is that you need. That you like and respect them for any reasons that are applicable, but that you’re by nature just not as sociable and outgoing. If you do this to no avail and they won’t respect your wishes, they don’t deserve to be in your life. At least you can say you tried. And if you just plain can’t stand them, then don’t be afraid to either tell them so (diplomatically), or simply remove yourself from situations where you will be forced to encounter them.
Alternatively, you may simply have nothing in common, and find it hard to see any common ground with the person, pleasant as they may be. Always remember that if you are not hurting anyone, then just like anyone else, you must assert your right to be yourself. If you like music, fashions, political viewpoints, partners, houses, cars, occupations, or pretty much anything your friends don’t like, be prepared to stand up for your preferences. You may become the butt of a few jokes, but just laugh them off. You should be respected for having your own opinion. Additionally, you never know… you might just introduce those around you to different ways of looking at life and deepen your friendships as a result.
Also, you may encounter someone who has no moral decency. They may have committed actions or crimes which have hurt others. You may be of the not feel the need to associate with them at all. You may feel they deserve a second chance. You may be interested to talk to them as an acquaintance and see what is underneath their history. Whichever way you slice it, stand your ground on how you feel about this one. This is not to say that if someone holds different views on religion, sexuality, politics etc that they do not deserve to be in your life because you may face a healthy debate. This is pure ignorance. Simply put, if an employer would not discriminate against them (just look at the UK’s equal opportunities policies) for their standing on certain issues, you would be wise to follow the same line. In other words, most employers would hire a homosexual or an unmarried woman over the age of 40, or someone with a disability, but they would probably find it hard to justify hiring a murderer or a child molester. Understandable, when you think about it. Do not let ignorance get in the way of potential friendships. You don’t need to agree, you simply need to respect each other.
One further consideration: if the person who has you foaming at the mouth is someone you will never be “obliged” to associate with due to others in your group, whether that be at work, in your family, or among your friends, you have every right to tell the person where to go and why. If your decision will not affect anyone but yourself, it all rests with you, and is much simpler. However, whether it’s your gossip-obsessed manager with no sense of privacy; your partner’s pushy, overbearing ex; your mother in law who is champing at the bit for kids when you want a career; or the parents of your kids’ friends who just rub you up the wrong way, chances are your dislike for them (for whatever reasons) may not sit well with those with a mutual connection. You may find them to be defensive of the person who irritates you, pointing out their good traits to try to change their mind, they may refuse to cut contact with them when you have never asked them to, they may indignantly try to involve them in your life because they are just so damn p***ed off that you don’t share the same opinion, or… they may be completely understanding.
The best way to approach this is to sit your mutual friend down and tell them, calmly and concisely, that you just find it hard to get along with the offending person. That you can see their good qualities (hopefully you can – and make sure to point them out), tell them (briefly – you don’t want to turn this into a mudslinging match) why you find them hard to be around, explain to them that you’re not expecting them to choose (can you imagine your partner telling you to choose between them and your best friend, for example? Didn’t think so. Respect works both ways.) Ask them to respect your views, point out how unfortunate the situation is, and ask them for what you need. Whether this be reduced contact between you and their friend, advanced warning that they will be in the same place as you, or not constantly talking about them (if the mere mention of someone makes your blood boil, ok, you may have a problem… but until you learn to fix that it still ruins your good mood). Maybe it’s for extra support and sensitivity when the person is around you both. Ask for what you genuinely want and that you feel would benefit you the most. Be prepared to explain why. Sometimes others can find it hard to understand your opinion straight off the bat. It doesn’t make you wrong, it may simply call for further discussion. This is part of what healthy communication is about.
I hope that you can find good ideas in the above advice, and that some of the suggestions will benefit you and the lives of those around you. Should you wish to add anything, feel free to comment!