How can I get along better with others?

Do you have that one grumpy co-worker that seems impossible to get along with?  Do you feel that disagreements get in the way of friendships?  It is inevitable, we all encounter people that we do not like and do not get along with, or seem to not like us.  These can be people at our school or workplace, our neighbors, and even family members.  The inevitability also occurs with people we do like; there will be words and actions from friends that can leave us steaming.  What can we do when we feel we are butting heads with others and want some peace?

First, set your expectations accurately; when your expectations don’t align with reality, you will feel negative regardless of the outcome.  Expect some imperfection, expect a compromise, expect forward and backward steps.  When you do these, you will be happier, regardless of the outcome.  As part of setting expectations correctly, we need to acknowledge that there will be personalities and beliefs that will clash with our own.  Remember that you can respect another’s opinion which is different from yours without compromising your own values.  When someone has different beliefs and ideas, we can still get along.

It is helpful to consider relationships as investments.  What efforts should we invest in?  During contentious conversations, be curious, ask questions and hold your judgement while you listen.  In disagreements, we overfocus on what the other person is doing wrong or how they are wrong.  Remember that your perspective is 100% valid to you, just as the others perspective is 100% valid to them.  Focus on what you do have in common and what the other person is doing right.  When someone criticizes you, try not to take it personally.  It is helpful to think, “that is the emotion talking.”

There are times when we become exhausted by the back-and-forth cycle.  Putting forth the effort to get along with others keeps the door open to a positive outcome.  However, making the decision to “throw in the towel” leaves the relationship as it is and will not lead to improvements. 

There are times such as when abuse occurs or safety becomes a concern, when we might need to end the relationship as a healthy option for both parties.

Take some time to consider your own faults and take responsibility for what you can do better.  Isn’t this what you expect from others?  Considering our own imperfections can help us to be more understanding and patient with others. Getting along better with others is a process that requires change within yourself.  Pay attention to your facial expressions, vocal tone and volume, body language and any other micro expressions.  People will react to those; instead give them a reason to feel respected, understood and calm. 

Do you need to talk to someone but expect it to go bad?  Start a conversation with the right tone.  Start by off by being polite.  Give a compliment.  A kind smile can speak louder than words.  Set up the conversation for success at the beginning.

There are times when our best efforts won’t make a connection better.  Consider the benefits of taking a break, setting boundaries or having a third party intervene.

At Nugent Family Counseling, we know relationships can be difficult and can bring us down.  If you feel professional help is needed, consider meeting with one of our therapists who can help you with your relationships and well-being.