“Somebody doesn’t like me. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone for it may be perceived to be a comment on my character.”
Why don’t they like me? I don’t care. Yes, I do. To whom did they say it, and why did they say it to them?
When we learn that another decides to dislike us, we would love (and I do mean LOVE!) to hide behind that preteen, righteous banner that trumpets the “we don’t care what anyone thinks!” idea. We know better now, we know that we care, but we don’t know what to do about it?
The first thing to do is nothing. Do not change that thing we do. Do not change who we are, or how we speak. If we bend to the will of the terrorists, they win. If that sounds like something a preteen, righteous warrior might write on a bathroom wall, it is, but once we get passed the exclamation points and swear words of the best potty prose, we do find a germ of truth in it.
Humans are hardwired to adjust to others’ wishes. They are the critics of our lives, and we should be open to any criticism in the sense that it might be constructive. It might be a worthy critique to help us improve. In our never-ending quest to be liked, however, some adjustments might be counterproductive, for if this person has a psychological underpinning that causes them to dislike us, they’ll just adjust their reason for not liking us accordingly, and they’ll have less respect for us for adjusting in the first place.
I have often found that taking the opposite tact, and upping the ante on the characteristic they dislike, not only puts an end to this vicious cycle, but it subverts the prejudicial judgement they’ve made. Most observers find that they respect a person more for not adjusting, and conceding to the hard wiring of human evolution. This is commonly called the “suck it!” strategy.
The “suck it!” strategy relies on the idea that we are likable and conscientious. If we’re not a likable person, and this person’s judgments are corroborated by others, such that it might form something of a consensus of thought, we may want to consider adjusting. If we are likable, however, we should be who we are to the people who surround us, and group thought might sway our critic to the idea that their prejudicial notions about us are incorrect.
Every situation is different, of course, and there have been times when I’ve gone beyond who I am to those who surround this person that dislikes me. I don’t do this on purpose, but it excites me when someone doesn’t like me, and I’ve never changed in a way that I considered an extension beyond my personality that it cannot be maintained over the long haul.
As for the ‘do nothing’ advice, I’ve often found that with the relative nature of taste that there’s not a whole lot we can do about someone choosing to dislike us. Most people usually formulate a prejudicial opinion of us before they’ve ever met us. We’ll know this is the case, if the hand we shake is cocked and loaded with a question like: “Is it true that you said (or did) this …?”
The base of the word prejudicial is prejudge, and we are making strides in our society to avoid such judgments. We are trying to avoid prejudice, but we are selective in our attempts to rid it from our culture. Chances are, if you are a human being, living in the 21st century, you’re being judged, and prejudged as often as any man in any century, but we don’t discuss such things, lest we be judged, or prejudged, for doing so.
If prejudging people is such an anathema, one would think that the simple act of declaring another prejudicial would be enough to diffuse everything that follows. What we see instead, are people who get more upset over a prejudicial opinion than an informed one. As discussed, it’s human nature to care. It’s quite another to obsess over it.
“I know,” they will say, “but how can she form an opinion of me based on … ” This sentence is usually concluded with “based on something they heard from a third party” or “based on our brief encounter.”
“They can’t,” I say. “They do not know you. So, why are you getting so upset about it?”
If a person knows us well, and issues an informed opinion, it can be devastating, but the person who makes a snap judgment of us, based on a couple here’s and there’s, should be dismissed to whatever degree we can dismiss another’s uninformed opinion. This is hard, no doubt, but when they make a snap judgment, and stick by that assessment, doesn’t it say more about that person than it does the subject of their preferences. It makes no sense that a person should do such a thing, but it appears to be endemic to human nature.
What we’re talking about here is psychology, both on a macro and macro level. The basis for modern day psychology is about 150 years old. The idea of the study may date back to Ancient Greece, but the incarnation we know today, an in-depth study of the choices that humans make –my preferred definition– is relatively new.
“She only says that, because she’s jealous,” is the fallback position for most of us who have to deal with the fact that someone don’t like us. It’s a snap judgment that may have more merit, if we attempt to seek in-depth psychological answers about them.
The extent of our knowledge of psychology often begins and ends with that psychology 101 course we took in college, and that course likely focused inordinate attention on the study of dots, swirls, circles, and other such tricks of the mind to test perception. There is some ontological value in that study, of course, but it just seems like such a waste of time compared to the far more important study of human interaction, and how we can learn to dot the I’s and cross the T’s of the five W’s of social interaction and psychological warfare. It seems to me that there is a dearth of understanding of psychology in some, which results in very little desire to dig deep into another’s psychology to understand them better.
The study of the swirls and circles have some invaluable traits, as they teach us perception, perspective, depth, and the value of how the human mind perceives visual images. When we view the characteristics of others, for example, the images we see tend to derive from the point of origin, until the motion of the arrows could be said to form an oval between us. This is called psychological projection, or the ability to better see another’s weaknesses through comparative analysis. Political partisans are often the first to call me a partisan, for example, people who need the last word are often the first to accuse me of being a person who needs to have the last word. Their accusations may be true, but they’re often the first to spot it, because they are viewing me from their perspective.
If we are going to have some sort of long form engagement with this party, we may want to understand their psychology better. We should be prepared to be wrong in our assessments for we have our own subjective agenda and our own base, but we should study them anyway, and adjust our analysis according to our findings.
After our initial analysis of this other person is complete, and all of our adjustments have been made, we may want to focus some of our attention on the third party who was informed by this other person of their decision to dislike you. It’s possible that the third party plays no role in this, other than being a third party, but is it possible that that person plays an instrumental role in this other person not liking you. It’s possible that we may be a perceived threat in the relationship they have with this third party, and they have an agenda that this other person fears we may expose. It’s also possible that they’re insecure people and they fear that we’re better. Whatever the case is, it’s possible that we may never be able to entirely figure it out, and their insecurities are such that they’ve overestimated us, but they don’t want to take that chance.
“I don’t know why,” we’ve all heard others say about others. “I just don’t like them.” Perhaps the people who don’t like us are saying these same things about us. Perhaps they can’t put their finger on why they don’t like us. They just don’t.
If they do know why they don’t like us, they’re probably not going to tell anyone, for that might reveal something about them. They may also avoid revealing the exact reason, because watching us flop around like a fish on shore, trying to figure it out, gives them some joy.
All we know for sure is they don’t like us, and we’re all sure that they are rude to us behind our back, and they speak ill of us. We’re sure they have a reason, and we’ve searched through a million possibilities, but that egotistical part keeps gnawing at us, until we arrive at the only truth possible. We never did anything to get them to dislike us. The idea that not everyone is going to like us, is something we figured out in third grade, but there are some who don’t like us for very specific reasons, and they’ll never let us know what those reasons are, because it is so vital to everything that they’re trying to do that they have such a block with it that they won’t be able to think up an excuse that covers for the fact that they live in fear of the possibility that we may be able to uncover some truth about them. Very rarely do we receive an unintended compliment so profound that it affects our daily life, and it’s even rarer when it comes in form of a negative vibe.