Even in adulthood, whether it’s in your social life, at work or among the parents at your kids’ school, you’re going to encounter people you don’t gel with. Sometimes, you’ll even have to spend a lot of time with them. The key is knowing how to deal with it.
Look for the positives
As with any trying situation, when you’re dealing with someone you don’t click with, it helps to look at the positives. Sometimes, it can feel like a certain person is purposely saying things that grind your gears but it helps to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they’re just a bit awkward or uncomfortable in social settings, or they think that you have a closer relationship with you than you do? Even if you’re not sure whether that’s true, trying to image that the person in question comes from a place of vulnerability rather than meanness will help you see the situation differently.
Consider how you would come across
If you feel as though you need to put your foot down or confront the person (or you’re even just daydreaming about it) consider how your actions will come across – both to the person you’re dealing with and the people around you. Do others perceive this person’s actions in the same way you do? That can be an important factor in determining how you react. Remember that while your emotions matter, so too does your reaction to the situation – keeping a level head is key.
Give yourself some space
Some situations are harder than others, but wherever possible, give yourself some space from the person in question. If it’s a colleague, this might mean taking a walk on your lunch break instead of sitting with them – if it’s another parent, maybe skip the next fundraiser or find some other friends in the school network to diffuse the tension? It’s not about avoiding certain situations or the person you’re struggling with, but rather creating space to give yourself time to regain composure and see the bigger picture.
Channel your frustration into something more positive
This could mean a few things. If you feel the situation isn’t worth addressing (likely due to the irrationality of the person you’re dealing with, or because it’s a short term thing) look out for yourself first. Find things that make you happy or, if all else fails, try exercise or meditation to release your anger in a different way. If you feel like you could address the situation, be sure to use ‘I feel’ rather than accusatory language – it might make them more likely to listen. Tact trumps temper, after all!
Remember, nobody likes everybody
If, even after implementing all of these tips, you find that you still can’t set aside your differences, it might be time to accept that not everybody likes each other – in fact, the world would be a pretty mundane place if we did. It’s safest to pick your battles, stay in your own lane and, above all, practice kindness. It also helps to keep in mind that our kids are watching (and picking up on) the way that we handle conflict, so lead by example. How would you want them to react?