Networking involves people. Ideally, it involves lots and lots of people. Yet the more people you have in your network, the higher the chances you'll find someone who just rubs you the wrong way. You know the type. In fact, you probably know a number of different types. Some people are too happy or nice. Some are jerks without even realizing it. And some seem to sap all pleasantness out of the air when they walk into a room. How do you keep a professional relationship with such people while keeping your wits intact?
It's All In Your Head
- It's your own fault people bother you.
- Now, it's true that we often tend to think the worst of people. It's completely natural. On the other hand, it's incredibly unnatural to think kind thoughts about others, especially when they remind us over and over why they might be genuinely bothersome people. We can think of more reasons why someone's smile might mean bad news rather than good.
- But you can't really know that about people, can you? So why make negative assumptions about them? You only cause yourself distress by doing so.
- So instead of condemning every grin or scowl you see, try a few of these pointers:
- When you see someone being so sickeningly nice that they just have to be fake, or when the happy smile some well-to-do's face seems like a mask, stop yourself and try to be glad that they exist. Real contentment with life is valuable, and we ought to be happy for those who truly find it. Maybe that grinning little fellow in the corner really is just happy to be alive. Be glad for them.
- When someone at least seems to make an effort to be nice to you, be glad for it. At least they are making an effort to be kind, even if they might hope to get something out of it. Is it any less than what you might do yourself? So make an effort to be grateful that someone took the time to say a kind word or do a good deed. You'll be happier when you do.
- Some people seem to trail a wake of misery and misfortune behind them. Others might be somewhat more fortunate, but still have their own worries and pains. Instead of throwing the blame for their misfortune on their own heads or thinking they have no right to complain, stop yourself and realize how very selfish those thoughts are. It doesn't matter if you have it worse, or if they are to blame for their own distress. Learn to be compassionate. Take a few moments to think of those individuals in a better situation. It will actually make you happier, and you will start to feel empathy toward them rather than resentment.
- It also helps when you show empathy as well as feel it. It is amazing how many people will reciprocate kindness and understanding if you just swallow your own pride enough to show it. And perhaps more amazing than that is how very gratifying that reciprocation can be.
Ignore Terrible People
- At times, you may come across an individual who seems to wear on you no matter what you do. Everything about them seems to be at least abrasive and at worst harmful. It seems like nothing you do can smooth things over. What do you do then?
- After you have tried to be understanding, the best you can do at times is to simply ignore them. Don't think about them. Don't talk about them. Try not to be around them. If someone brings them up, change the subject. If they approach you, politely break away and move on to something else. They aren't worth losing your sanity. Fortunately, genuine irreconcilability is a rare attribute. Just find other people to associate with.
With very few exceptions, simply making an effort to assume the best of people and to be kind to them can make them easier to work with. As you seek further advice on how to network while keeping your mind in one piece, visit the Career Advice section of our blog.
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