You can’t get along with everyone. But throughout your life, you’ll be in situations where you simply have to communicate with some of those people you just can’t stand. This may be an annoying boss, an ingratiating fan, a spineless co-worker, a difficult client, an abrasive in-law, and any number of people with any number of faults.
You don’t always have to be nice -- professional and to-the-point will often get the job done just as well -- but you do need to make yourself understood clearly or risk letting your dislike translate into inefficient communication that hinders or even entirely undermines whatever projects you’re working on.
A lot of conflicts are based in misunderstandings, so always make sure you’re getting everything. Use careful questioning to focus the other person on the topic at hand so they give you what you need and avoid straying too far.
2. Repeat Everything
Your feelings about another person can color your perception of what they’re saying. To avoid this, repeat back any instructions, questions, or other problems they pose to you to make sure you absolutely understand.
3. Keep Your Cool
It’s tempting to want to argue with people who rub you the wrong way. Don’t do that! Unless they’re wrong about something that directly and materially affects you, don’t bother. Save the debates for when you’re with friends whose opinions matter to you.
4. Be Clear About Boundaries
You don’t have to be friends with everyone. Which means you don’t have to do favors for everyone who asks.
5. Fight Fire With Ice
The worst thing you can do with angry or irrational people is engage them. As hard as it might seem to do, the best thing is to sit quietly and let them spend themselves ranting and raving, and then ask if they’d like to schedule a time to discuss the matter more calmly and return to whatever you were doing. If this sets off another round of yelling, simply wait it out and repeat.
6. Close the Door
Remember that your time is your own -- don’t let other people, especially ones you’d rather not interact with, take control of your time. Communication outside of the narrow band needed to fulfill both of your objectives should be minimized.
7. You’re Valuable -- Remember That
If you’ve found yourself in a position where you are obligated for some reason to spend time with someone you dislike, remember that most likely, they are in the same position with regard to you. But you wouldn’t be in that situation if you didn’t provide something of value, whether that’s a work skill or talent, specialized knowledge, even things as abstract as emotional support or solidarity.
People that are annoying, difficult, selfish, boring, or otherwise a chore to deal with are that way for reasons that have nothing to do with you -- it’s not your job to fix, engage with, or indulge those tendencies. Don’t worry abut figuring them out or correcting them; worry instead about how you’re going to manage their annoyances without letting it hinder your ability to achieve your own goals.