Why don't I like this person

How to be respectful of people you don't like

Accepting people for who they are is a skill. Or rather: an achievement, because we may all have to nibble at being well-disposed towards those who are unsympathetic to us.

I know this dichotomy very well of myself. In the meantime I can even name the point at which I subconsciously decide not to be able to suffer a person.

But now I also know that above all I have to change my thinking patterns in order to be able to deal better and more lovingly with those around me, who have been against the grain from the start. Even if that sounds paradoxical at first, it makes sense. Why? Because on the one hand it's just fair and everyone deserves a chance. And because, on the other hand, I will get along better with myself if I can get along with others.

Antipathy, what are you doing with us?

An example from my head: When at the very first meeting, during the first conversation and the first deep look into the eyes of my counterpart, I feel that something is rattling in the back room with him * her, when I feel that he * she is not impartial to me when I feel a kind of reservation, an implicit I-already-have-an-opinion-of-you and that is completely different from what I am trying to sell myself - then I already decide.

I imagine I have a sensor for when someone does not meet me sincerely and openly from the outset. And then it's over for me - after a few seconds. Although I know that I want to be tolerant and reject prejudice, I fail in these cases.

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"Our unconscious only needs about 100 milliseconds to form a judgment about a face that we have never seen before," writes the psychotherapist Doris Wolf in an article about the origin of antipathy. And we do not make this decision consciously, it is the result of ideas and past experiences. But that does not mean that we cannot question this or consciously take countermeasures.

While positive impressions make us more open, negative ones make us more closed to other people. I myself think, for example, that this person, whom I do not like for the reasons mentioned above, throws me off balance, I cannot be myself with him * her. So I avoid her * him as much as possible. I get antipathetic.

The path to empathy starts with ourselves

But what if I can't avoid this person with whom I should actually have a healthy relationship? Because the person is a work colleague or a family member? So what? Do I have to get along with everyone and be respectful and loving towards those with whom I have absolutely nothing to do with?

The first question should rather be: Why do I think I don't like this one person? If you want to understand that, you have to deal with the concept of projection, explains Berlin psychologist Alexandra Kuptz, who is primarily concerned with mindfulness in her happiness laboratory. “Projection means that we project parts of our inner life onto the other person or simply onto another person,” she says.

A good example according to Kuptz: Let's imagine that we are quite shy and that we would like to break out every now and then. We then look for people as friends or partners who are totally freaked out and who show exactly this characteristic that we want to live out more to the outside world.

Conversely, a projection also applies to people we don't like at all: “A work colleague is promoted because she shares her professional successes with her superior and pampers herself. You in turn know that you have achieved just as good results, but have not shared them with your manager every time because you are a humble person. ”We simply can't stand this colleague because she has traits that we consider ourselves to be refuse yourself.

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That's the trick, the whole magic: We can still remain calm and level-headed towards this person if we are aware of our projection. Envy and resentment have nothing to do with the person as such, but with our attitude towards something. "Once we understand why we don't like a person, it becomes easier for us to accept them," says Kuptz.

Our interpersonal relationships always have something to do with ourselves. “It therefore makes sense to always treat other people with appreciation and to treat them with respect,” says Kuptz. We never know exactly which foot they got up with. It is also important to realize that all people have their own life story and few act out of sheer malice, but in the only way they know and have experienced.

Let's stick with the example of the work colleague * whom * we don't like: Let's assume we come from an environment in which we were valued for our actions and respected for our kind. The promoted colleague, who in our eyes ingratiated himself, may not know it that way. Perhaps he * she would like to get exactly this kind of appreciation from superiors through his * her * actions, because he * she has received less for his * her * actions in his * her life.

"If we understand this background and show respect and humility to this person, it will also be easier for us to go into any dispute in a relaxed manner," says Kuptz.

We get to know our needs better

Sometimes we misinterpret signals in a very simple way, think prematurely that a person doesn't like us and therefore keep our distance. That doesn't always have to be the case. "Behind a distant, arrogant behavior is usually a shy, self-insecure person", writes psychotherapist Wolf.

Keyword self-confidence: Those who treat themselves respectfully and lovingly also find it easier to deal with others in the same way, says Kuptz. Our own thoughts and actions about ourselves and others make up about 40 percent of life satisfaction, 50 percent the genes, and only ten percent the environment, as researchers * during the study Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change (PDF) found out.

“It's very easy to explain: Our energy follows attention,” says Kuptz. A simple example of this is our mood: If we walk the streets in a bad mood, then it is more likely that we will notice less positive things than when we are in a good mood and vice versa.

In the event that it is fairly certain that in the future we will meet a person in whom everything contracts with us, but we still want to remain respectful, we can try the following, as the author Emily Co for Popsugarwrote down:

  1. Keep your distance:This primarily means emotional distance. The further we are from someone we don't like, the more objectively we can look at things without immediately reacting with rejection. It makes sense to separate reality from your own perception, because sometimes we are simply the ones who overreact.
  2. Observe your own emotions:What exactly brought me to white heat and when? We should perceive and later analyze exactly how we reacted when we met the person. Should that upset us again: Discard thoughts and try again later. So we can gradually deal with her in a tidier and calmer way.
  3. Think proactively, not reactively:It is better to respond to this one person with logic, not emotions.
  4. Creating new, positive experiences with each other:If we find that we are only thinking about negative experiences with a person when we meet them, we might try to just create positive ones. Perhaps the place where you have always bumped into each other causes too much - perhaps a change of location to a neutral place and a single understanding conversation is enough for a completely new relationship. We could then hold on to this good experience internally in the future.

It can happen that after the admission that you are respectful of a previously unpopular person - and not punish them emotionally for their behavior or manner - you feel as if you are betraying your own values, explains psychologist Kuptz. This is especially the case when the person provoked us strongly, consciously or unconsciously.

Here again: "Everyone has to carry their own package and sometimes it is not worth addressing all conflicts openly." In retrospect, let us get annoyed for a long time that we did not get involved in a conflict or did not defend ourselves, let us turn our attention to our anger. But we can't change anything anymore, so it's time to make peace with the past situation and just try to appreciate the person himself. “She must have had her motives. And arguments in particular show us a way to find ourselves, ”says Kuptz.

This also has a very positive effect on ourselves. For example, it teaches us what we don't want in our life - and we can think about what we want instead. If we then follow this instead, we will come a lot closer to our own goals and needs.


In our series “How to find yourself” we deal with coping in this fast-moving world. How do I get happier? How do I get rid of harmful thought patterns? For the tricks - we call them psychohacks - we deal with common studies and methods and interview experts.