I decided to write about this because of how often I run across this in my coaching practice. So many of us have these likes and dislikes of people. And it truly causes us so much distraction from doing what we really want or should be in our life….and oh so much frustration as well. If I can help someone evolve in this regard it is a beautiful thing. To make our life more joyful or lighter. That is my goal.
I want to share why this happens, what keeps us repeating these patterns of behavior, and what we can do if we want to evolve beyond the results we typically see in our lives.
We’ve all experienced this right? Some people we are more fond of than others? And sometimes we can choose who we want to spend our time with. But what do we do when we have to spend time with someone because they are family? Or a co-worker? A child’s teacher? Or someone that we must interact with because we have mutual companies that do business together? Like a customer? Heck sometimes we just don’t even like strangers we meet and our interaction will only be temporary.
I am certain we have all been there. And why have we all been there? Well, mainly because we are human, that is why. We are all made with this same brain that has served us well to keep us safe and survive danger. But it isn’t always the most helpful in supporting us in social situations. It isn’t the most helpful in giving us a clean slate every time we meet someone new.
In fact, it is equipped to constantly be scanning for danger and threats. Therefore, past experiences come into play. In fact, part of our brain spends its time scanning for thoughts, memories, and sensations. Something you smell, taste, hear, or touch. These things can be triggers to warn us of danger. Subconsciously they can cause us to act in certain ways because of what is happening behind the scenes in our brain activity. It really is fascinating. But again, does it help us when we are interacting with others and trying to build or sustain relationships?
So I have shared a little about why this happens, it is the human brain at work. To put it directly, it is our human brain at work without supervision and guidance. And we repeat these behaviors because it is familiar. A well-worn neural pathway in our brain. This is how we react to threats, this is what we typically say, this is what we do. My brain is constantly scanning for threats, I refer back to past experiences and senses and as soon as a negative threat is noticed, I will react in the habitual ways that I always do.
My mission is to say….hey there is another way. We can move beyond this primitive brain of ours and use our intelligence to do better. To think new things, to understand the triggers we have. To have an understanding that yes this is how we are wired to scan for threats and danger but that does not mean that this situation or circumstance I am in right now equals something I need to get defensive about or draw a line in the sand and place this person in the good column, this person in the bad column and this person on the watch list.
I want us to interrupt these default autopilot behaviors and intentionally choose based on facts, not stories, and to also bring in some compassion for humanity and that we are not all the same. We don’t believe the same things, we don’t have the same experiences, and we don’t all repeat the same thoughts.
This really comes down to individual responsibility. Children are not born with the black & white thinking that we find ourselves having. They are open to everyone. They have no reason to dislike without a cause. This comes over time of experiencing the world and not managing the thoughts and behaviors that get stored in our minds.
So I would ask you. Do you have trouble getting along with people? This really requires an honest and non-judgemental practice. Here are some questions you can reflect on and journal about to get deeper into why you may find yourself in the position you are in.
Do I get along with most people?
Why do I think I don’t get along with some people?
What patterns or commonalities do I notice with those I struggle to get along with?
Am I lacking the flexibility to accept people as they are?
Do I struggle to have compassion for people living their own 50/50 human life? Do I even consider this aspect?
Do I have this belief that everyone should behave in certain ways?
Am I just repeating autopilot behaviors just because it is familiar to me?
Over the course of a week, how often do I have negative interactions with people? (And by negative interactions I mean when you feel a negative emotion in your body just from interacting with them?)
Those questions are so powerful and can help you uncover why you may not get along with people and help break down rigid thinking that just needs to be opened up a bit.
So many of the concepts I teach in my coaching practice support and improve our ability to get along with people. Concepts such as our Thoughts, The Model, Story vs. Fact, People pleasing, Feelings, and the 50/50 life. Because many of these concepts are at play when we find we can’t get along with people. You can find some of these recordings on my youtube channel if you’d like to revisit them.
So what are the top reasons why we can’t get along with some people?
Being Unwilling to accept differences
Having a Lack of care or concern
Differing communication styles
The impact of Previous conflicts and experiences
I believe the biggest driver in our inability to get along with people is rooted in our thoughts about them. If I think something positive about you and I focus on what is positive about you, I am going to like you and most likely because I like you, I will get along with you. If I have negative thoughts about you, I have fewer odds of getting along with you. This is why our thoughts are so important. Are they subconscious thoughts? Are they based on facts or stories? Does something about this person remind us of a bad experience from our past? Did they say or do something that triggered a past experience?
Another big reason is The manuals we have on people. Because we believe they should behave in certain ways and do things the way our brain likes them to be done. Having manuals on others simply causes us discomfort. When we can throw away our manuals on people we can work on accepting them for the person they are and we can create space and allow them to be their unique selves. Even when we don’t agree or like how they do or say something.
So a lot of what I have shared so far is for you to go within and seek more information as to why you don’t get along with some people. I want to leave you with some tips for getting along with others:
- Be a good listener. Most of us listen to respond. Try to hear what they are saying and show an interest in what they are sharing with you.
- Keep an open mind, remember I talked about that black & white thinking habit our brain can get into? We want to open up to the fact that we could benefit from thinking new things and changing past beliefs. Or at the very least letting people be as they are without our desire to change them. Maybe it is just being open to trying to understand and have more compassion for how they are.
- Try to be authentically polite and positive. Improving these two traits alone could do so much for breaking down walls that get built up in new or old relationships.
- Repair the small issues to prevent them from growing into something much larger. That could require apologizing or at least being able to discuss where you agree or disagree in a responsible loving way.
- Be honest with your communication. Even if that means exposing yourself to being vulnerable which may be uncomfortable to you. And watch that people pleasing because truly people pleasing in a way is lying and being inauthentic and good relationships cannot be built upon that.
I hope you find this information helpful for increasing your ability to get along with people. Maybe you don’t have an issue with this, but it can still help you better understand those that do struggle with getting along and if you are someone that has people in your life you struggle to get along with, I do hope this information can settle into your mind and give you some new things to think about and work with.
“Getting along” with people depends about ninety-eight percent on our own behavior.”Irfan Mamoun MD