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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Dealing with others: People will get along with you IF they want to.

I was talking with a friend a while back and one of his in-laws has been a divisive force in his family.  It seems as if she never really tried to accept him.  He found a similar dynamic in another situation near to him.   It made me think about something.  Sometimes, for no good reason people close to you decide not to accept you.  Often to the point of outright rejection or hostility, leaving you wondering what the hell happened.  Other times, those close, if they do 'accept' you, it's a grudging because we are related or friend of friend situation. In other words, within the tie-in, they'd reject you.

So, how can you tell if someone close is really rejecting you or grudgingly 'accepting' you?Here are what I see as symptoms of such a relationship:
  • Do they ever ask about how you are doing or do they just go straight to how they are doing?  If they do ask you, do you feel it's a formality? 
    • Sometimes I think people just aren't in a place to be a friend or family, whether it is out of selfishness or brokenness.
    • They talk to you because they feel like 'they have to'.  Therefore, they talk about what they want and not what's important to moving the relationship forward.
  • When evaluating whom to spend time with, do they treat you as a priority--not necessary 'the' priority--or a fallback option?
    • Everyone has to live their own life and take what time they need for themselves.  Healthy relationships start with making sure to treating ourselves well.
    • In unhealthy relationships, they always treat you like they'll spend time with you IF there a no 'better' options?
      • You find out after rejecting spending time with you, they quietly spend time with others.
      • You find out that they asked others first and when they were rejected by others, they reached out to you late in the game. In other words, when all other plans/possibilities fell through, they reached out to you.
  • Do they ever attempt to or offer to meet you half way or do they 'expect' you to always shoulder the burden.
    • This could mean time, money, location, effort, etc.
    • This doesn't mean an expectation of shouldering the burden equally, but instead the sense that they are at least trying to be fair.
  • Do you get the sense that if you didn't have the tie-in, you'd never hear from them?
    • Tie-in could be relatives in common, friends in common, kids in common, an immediate neighbor or some other similar dynamic.
    • They rarely talk to you outside of the 'group'.
    • If they do talk to you, it is only because not doing so would be more awkward or obvious.
I used to get mad, upset or irritated with these type situations or people when I saw this dynamic in a 'relationship'.  I realize there are effectively two ways to deal with these situations: Taking it personally and treat it as about you or treating it as a limitation on their part and deal accordingly.  I have come to realize, it is usually best to treat it as a limitation on their part.  That is to say, they don't know how to be a friend or family to me.  In some ways, it didn't matter whether that was due to their selfishness or ignorance.  It still wasn't worth fretting over.  

Ultimately, my takeaway on how to deal with people who reject you or accept you grudgingly is this:
  • Don't take it too personally. Often times, you just happen to be the person playing the role--brother-in-law, the other friend who is the object of jealousy, the 'competition' for your friend's spouse, etc.
  • Don't repay slights.  It shouldn't be a race to the bottom, but a race to the top.
  • Realized that not all people are capable of treating you as you should be treated.
    • Expose yourself to them only as much as you are willing to safely.  Think of it as taking only the amount of money that you are willing to lose to the casino.  If you accept and put a limit on your loses, then if you actually 'lose' it won't be as big a deal as you've factored it in. 
    • Where necessary, step away as quietly and gracefully as you can in order to protect yourself.  Stepping away doesn't have to be a drama, but it can in a way be a quiet, but definitive statement. 

What it all boils down to this: if someone wants to get along with you, they will and will overlook any flaws you have.  If someone doesn't want to get along with you, they will find a reason not to like you. You can take it personally, but it's usually not worth it.

As I am posting this around Inauguration Day 2017, I realize this applies to Presidents too.  If someone wants to like the POTUS, they will despite any/many flaws.  If they want to dislike the POTUS, they will in spite of good deeds or good policies the POTUS is has pushed.