How to deal effectively with people you despise

Taline Helwajian

One of the most difficult social situations in life can be telling a person that you dislike them. In fact, it can be so difficult that most of us probably never tell people how we really feel. For whatever reason, we just don’t click with everyone. Perhaps it’s our own biases. But maybe it’s the other person. Maybe they are just so rude, so inconsiderate and generally disliked by most people because of their attitude that we jump on the bandwagon and dislike them too, and for good reason.

We all deal with people like this everyday. There is that one person in every class who has the cockiest, sneering and most revolting personality, who thinks he or she is wiser than the professor, which very well may be the case, but has a complete lack of respect for his or her peers and the educator.

But what happens when this person approaches me in class and asks what we’ve been discussing lately? My first thought is that they are trying to take advantage of me. They probably don’t even know my name but realize that I’ve never missed a class. I’m the perfect sucker! I realize I barely recognize this person’s face. And now this person wants me to divulge my sacred notes so they can catch up?

I begin to think back on the entire semester in an instant flash. I realize that this person was able to sleep in all semester long and get his or her beauty sleep while I dragged my ass to class every Tuesday and Thursday after a long day of work the night before. I become bitter and either pretend like I don’t have my notes with me that day or I give them up because I don’t know how to say NO.

Sometimes these people can actually be refreshing. I know my life and my personality seem a whole lot brighter when someone pessimistic, bitter and generally stupid walks in and reminds me how much better off I am.

But how do we deal with these kinds of people? Well, the option I tend to use is to just ignore them. But inevitably, you’ll end up in the lunch room at work together or bump into them in the hallways on campus.

Then what do we do? Well, we fake it! We pretend like we are so excited to see this person when in reality we want to run the other way, and don’t care about what they say. I could not care less if that person is having a nice day or if their classes are going well. I don’t care if they failed a midterm, or if their significant other broke up with them five minutes earlier. It’s not my problem.

Now, if this person happened to be kind and caring and all those other marshmallow characteristics, then I would be more than happy to stop and chat. But I know this rude person is faking it as much as I am. They need someone to complain to and I’ll do for the time being until they get a chance to speak to one of their real friends, if they have any.

If avoiding people doesn’t work for some, then perhaps a good old-fashioned dose of truth will do. If someone you dislike insists on chatting it up with you every chance they get, simply tell them that your personalities don’t mesh very well and you’d prefer to keep the relations strictly at an acquaintance level. Sure, that kind of attitude won’t make you any new friends, but you weren’t trying to be friends with that person anyway. Don’t be too rude, though. Then you’d be no better than the person you’re confronting.

Taline Helwajian can be reached at