In a perfect world, we’d all get along. There’d be no hurt feelings, no bruised egos, no insecurities that would pepper our speech or prevent us from truly sharing what we feel.
But we know differently, don’t we? Alas, how many times have we left conversations or maybe even had friendships end because someone had the wrong idea of us? Or maybe someone hardly knows us at all, but we come to find they just don’t care for us? It stings. It’s hard not being liked; it’s harder still when we can’t do anything about it.
Or can we? While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, there are a few “inner ground rules” we can take into conversations and personal interactions so that popularity doesn’t rule our identity.
Below are few ways to help you come to terms with someone who doesn’t like you.
Know What You Stand For
Being rooted in yourself—what you believe in, what you stand for, what your own moral high ground is made of—frees you from the pressure of needing others to validate it. While you should always strive to keep an open mind and to engage with those who think or believe differently than you do, there is a way to do this so that it’s mutually beneficial, not out of an attempt to sway or discredit.
When you have a healthy sense of personal conviction, you’re better able to practice both humility and boldness; you’re motivated from a deeper place than simply trying to be liked. When someone doesn’t agree with a value you hold dear, for example, it’s easier to separate yourself from the issue at hand. And if someone decides they “don’t like you” as a result of your viewpoint, then you’re better able to see how that’s more likely an issue on their end versus a character flaw in yourself.
(Side note: This must work both ways. A good heart check is to meter out this same respect, not “not liking” someone because they hold different values than you.)
Everyone’s emotions are their own. You can be considerate of others, and even sensitively take into account a reaction someone might have (and apologize if you’ve unintentionally caused pain), but that doesn’t mean, at the same time, that it’s your job to control what others feel.
This kind of goes along with the point above, but remembering that if someone is quick to label you in a certain way or chooses not to associate with you for reasons they haven’t made clear, that is their choice. It hurts, and it’s probably unfair, but that was their line to draw. It’s up to you what you lines you draw—what emotions you choose to indulge in and the power they have over you as a result.
Address Rumors Directly
Again, practice the respect that you’d like offered to you. If you’ve heard information that you’re pretty sure is incorrect, or at least have questions or misgivings about, go to the source and leave as few people out of it as possible.
When people feel cornered or ganged up against, it’s easy to get defensive. This will never lead to a positive outcome for both parties. Instead, consider how you might get to the heart of a matter, gently asking, “I really want to understand your side of things. Can you let me know if something I’ve done has offended you or rubbed you the wrong way?” Then, let them respond. Don’t interrupt with your own version of events or with why he or she is viewing you incorrectly. Hear them out, then acknowledge their reality. Only after someone feels heard and understood will they be open to correction.
Once that happens, ask if you can share your side, saying something like, “It would be difficult to feel that way,” or “When you put it that way, I can understand why you think that. But here’s really where I am coming from…”.
And remember: Just because someone might be gossiping about you doesn’t give you permission to act slanderously in response. Be an adult and put out fires. Don’t start them.
Know When To Walk Away
Sometimes, you just have to let people go. Having a healthy sense of confidence, a rooted purpose, clear boundaries, and doing all you can to address rumors or own up to your side of the equation won’t always result in a perfectly healed friendship.
Everyone has their own journey of perspective, integrity, and maturity to walk; it’s called life. It won’t always sync up so that two people are ready to evolve or progress at the same time, under the same set of circumstances. And that’s OK.
As long as we do our part, we can confidently leave the door open (rather than slamming it shut) for future friendship until someone is ready to walk through it. We don’t have to force it and we don’t have to yell. Not everyone will be our friend, but everyone can be a vehicle of more understanding, respect, and self-awareness. It takes all kinds.