How You Can Learn to Like the Assholes You’re Forced to Share Oxygen With

The world’s full of assholes, and sometimes you have to work with them or see them at a party. While some people you just have to hate, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way we could all get along?  A new study emerged from the University of Groningen that suggest a small tweak in your behavior could make that a reality.

Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, writing for Psychology Today, examined a study conducted by psychologist Melvyn Hamstra (and his colleagues) that looked at how our expectations of liking or disliking someone helped form our opinions.  They found that we quickly use our biases to prime quietly ourselves for a positive or negative reaction based on similar or different attributes (respectively) that we observe in new people we meet.  While we can’t shut those biases off, we do have hope of making better frenemies if we just acknowledge potential differences:

The Hamstra et al. study suggests that you first tune into the dimension of your personality that represents a lack of fit with the target of your disdain. The individual may not be a bad person, but just someone whose personality doesn’t fit your own. You’re a pessimist and this person is an eternal optimist. Or you’re outgoing and relaxed, and this person seems uptight and reserved. The Hamstra findings also suggest that the more of a mismatch there is, the more strongly your venom will flow toward this person.  Recognizing the subjective nature of your reaction to the person you don’t “like” can become the first step toward seeking a common ground. Talking through your differences, perhaps in the presence of a third party, could help both of you figure out how to not only agree to differ, but to form the yin to each other’s yang. You may not end up as best friends, but you can at least learn to respect, and ultimately work, in the face of your differences.

Isn’t that sweet?  Next time you run into a coworker or friend you dislike, go grab a neutral buddy to join the conversation.  Talk about your differences and keep things pleasant.  Perhaps you’ll find common ground and you’ll both realize neither of you are so bad after all.

How to Get Along with People You Don’t Like Very Much | Psychology Today