How to Get Along With Someone You Don't Get Along With

Whether it's someone in your office or a family member, there may be someone in your life that you don't gel with. Perhaps she has one of these difficult personalities, or maybe the both of you are just too different. Of course, every situation is different, but here are some techniques that you can try out that may help your relationship with the other person.

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Keep Your Distance

Sometimes it's better to start mending your relationship from afar. You'll have more control over your reactions, and you'll be able to be more objective about the situation without being subject to emotional triggers. Learn to separate reality from your own bias. Perhaps you're the one who is overreacting. 

Disarming Technique

The disarming technique was first popularized by renowned cognitive behavioral psychologist Dr. David Burns. What you do is find a kernel of truth in her statement and agree with her. Being defensive tends to make the situation worse, so using the disarming technique will help diffuse the tension. By using this technique, you're improving your listening skills and learning to be more empathetic. Remember, people who tend to lash out can be really unhappy, so try to be understanding. It's hard to pick fights with replies like, "I can see how this is frustrating for you," or "You're right, it is important to be more organized." How can you further an argument with someone who is telling you you're right? 

Create New Positive Experiences

If the majority of your recent interactions with the person are tinged with negativity, strive to create new positive experiences on neutral ground. It could be that the place where you interact the most with this person triggers strong counteractive feelings, so establish new positive ones.

Switch Topics

If the conversation is going downhill, switch gears and bring up a happy or neutral topic. This will give you both time to cool down and perhaps even end the conversation on a high note.

Think Proactive, Not Reactive

Given that you know you don't get along, you need to make the effort to turn that around. This means being on guard and making a concerted effort to improve the situation. Don't get complacent and let yourself react naturally, because that probably hasn't worked in the past. React with logic, not your emotions. 

Observe Your Own Emotions

Note how you're feeling when you're dealing with the person. If you find yourself getting upset, take a breather and perhaps come back to the topic later on. If the issue you bring up is highly sensitive, give it a few days before approaching the topic. You'll be more calm and collected after some time.

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Guest's picture

"using the disarming technique will help diffuse the tension. By using this technique, you're improving your listening skills and learning to be more emphatic."

"emphatic" really? That would only make the situation worse. Didn't you mean to say "empathetic"?

Meg Favreau's picture

Thanks for the catch, guest. We've fixed it!

Guest's picture

Along the lines of thinking logical, always ask yourself, what good can come out of this particular action? I see so many situations where people do something and then they are surprised by the negative result. If you respond in an aggressive or negative way, what do you expect to happen?

Guest's picture

I really enjoyed reading your article. We all come across people that we don't get along with and having a few strategies at hand to deal with them is useful. My favorite one has to be switching topics. I guess that is because I have found it particularly useful in many situations. I plan to incorporate the disarming technique more into my interactions with some particular people!

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