Brace yourself — what’s coming might be quite disturbing. Ready? Here it is: Not everyone has to like you.
Blasphemy, you say? No, it’s just real life.
On my radio program I received two calls back to back having to do with this reality. First, a woman called to complain about her sister-in-law, who is seriously two-faced. The sister-in-law bad-mouths the caller behind her back — even to the caller’s husband, who just lets it go.
The caller said: “I give her gifts, invite her to things . . . I really try, but she is so cold and ungracious. I want to know what I can do to make this be better.”
My answer is . . . nothing!
We can have a guessing contest as to the sister-in-law’s problems — maybe she’s jealous about the caller’s looks or education, maybe she’s jealous over “losing” her brother to an “outsider,” or maybe it is just the behavior of an unhappy person who can’t enjoy the happiness of others.
Whatever it is, the caller has absolutely no control over it. She doesn’t have the magic to tame the beast.
It is painfully difficult for reasonable and nice people to cope with this sort of irrational negativity and rejection. Nice people want to be liked.
I told the caller not complain to her husband ever again. There is nothing he can do, either. I also told the caller to just let it be and become the Stepford sister-in-law: Smile, be nice, and let it all go like you are not seeing it. This is a tough step for a lot of people — especially women.
The bad behavior of others often is perceived as something they must be responsible for. Put that together with a desperation to be accepted and liked, and you have a vicious cycle of disappointment and anger.
Now on to the second caller’s story. This one was about a co-worker who had stopped talking to her. The caller said the co-worker was mad at her because, “I didn’t tell her I traveled to Georgia and that I got a puppy.”
Having a private life that was not shared with this co-worker felt like a slight, a rejection, an affront, or a betrayal and so the cold shoulder behavior was the punishment.
I told the caller that this is extremely immature behavior, and she did not have the power to repair this co-worker’s emotional issues as they had absolutely nothing to do with her.
I told her to just be friendly to the co-worker. Smile, say “hi,” and compliment her hair, clothes, whatever, and do that whether or not the co-worker responds pleasantly or at all.
Not everyone has to like you. It is reasonable to demand respectful or appropriate behavior.
In both cases, after a while of doing the “nice thing,” if their inappropriate behaviors continue, it would be necessary to say, “It’s OK that you don’t feel friendly toward me, but for the sake of family (or for the sake of working together) let’s just be pleasant (to get work done).”
Then smile, and get on with your day.
Dr. Laura is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author whose full name is Laura Schlessinger. She is interviewed regularly on many of the biggest television shows and publications. Read more reports from Dr. Laura — Click Here Now.
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