6 Tips For Getting Along With Someone You Don't Like

It's easier than you'd think.

In a perfect world, everyone would thoroughly enjoy one another's company and get along all the time. Sadly, that's not really anywhere close to reality most of the time. 

Whether it's a neighbor, colleague or even a family member, every person at some time will have to deal with people that they don't particularly like for a number of reasons. 

The old standby advice for this situation is to just ignore or avoid that person, but there are many times when it simply isn't an option. There will be times when being with a person you don't like cannot be avoided, but things don't always have to be awful. It is possible (and preferable) to be nice to these people and improve a broken personal relationship. This isn't being two-faced; it's being an adult.

Here are six steps for making the best out of a bad situation and learning to be nice to someone, even if you don't really like them:

1. Don't call them names, even when they're not there.

When you really don't like someone, it can be really easy to get petty and say some ugly things about them behind their back. All this does, however, is feed into the resentment that is already present and does nothing to actually improve anything. While there is something to be said for venting stress when someone makes you mad, it's better for everyone if it happens in a more productive way.

2. Try to avoid conflict.

Avoid potential arguments whenever possible. This one is especially good if there are long-standing issues going on with you and this other person, because it will be very easy for things to escalate and old grievances to be aired. If criticism has to be given, try to keep it constructive and on topic.

Exaggerations or absolutes, like "you ALWAYS forget to do this" or "you NEVER listen" really just make the situation worse and should be avoided.

3. Find common ground.

Even if you truly, deeply do not like a person, there has to be something you both agree on. It doesn't matter if it's a TV show, sports team or song, finding something — anything — that you both enjoy (or mutually hate, really) can be a good basis of conversation and can uncover other mutual interests. It might not seem like much, but having even one thing to agree on and talk about is much better than not having anything.

4. Attempt to clear the air.

This has to be done with a degree of finesse, but if done right, can be a huge relief. It can come off as confrontational if they get put on the spot to have a difficult conversation. Instead, ask them if they have time to talk later and find a neutral location. Start the discussion by saying that even though things are bad, you want them to improve. Speaking honestly — but not accusatory — is a perfect way to really get everything out on the table so both people can move forward with a better understanding of one another. 

5. Take a look at yourself, too.

Think about why you don't get along with a certain person and try to identify parts of their personality that are irritating. Are they bossy? Selfish? Do they interrupt when people speak? Now, think about whether or not those traits apply to you. Sometimes we don't like people because they are too similar to what we don't like about ourselves. Identifying and coming to terms with these similarities may help you give the other person a break, while also giving you ideas to work on your own personality.

6. Be kind to them.

Making a vending machine run? Ask if they want you to bring them back a drink. Get them a birthday card. Give them a hand with a task if they need it. These gestures of kindness really can make it easier to go from merely being civil to actually getting along.

Of course, following these tips might not cause you to become best friends with someone you don't like, but they will at least reduce some of the tension and make your time together more pleasant and allow both parties to act with a bit more dignity. 

There may also be people who, no matter what you do, are not receptive to improving things. Someone who has been rude may continue to be awful toward you, despite your best efforts to improve things. If that is the case, try to minimize contact as much as possible, but keep the other steps in mind when you do deal with the person. You cannot control the actions of another person, but you can control yourself. You can control your response. 

Nobody will like every single person they meet in life, but that's never a reason to compromise one's integrity. It takes a lot of character to show kindness when it doesn't come easy.

At the end of the day, that's all that matters.