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How to avoid unlikeable people

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The worst part of party season is being lumped into a situation where you’re surrounded by unlikeable people who you may not normally socialise with.

Although I always try to make the best of every situation and see the good in everyone, sometimes there’s not a lot you can do but walk away from rude, condescending people.

No one is perfect, but this list should help you to identify remarkably unlikeable traits (mostly drawn from my own experiences) so that you can spot them and minimise their occurrence in your life. Or, so you can make sure you’re not one of them:

The arrogant and cocky type

I don’t know what it is, but these types seem to be everywhere. These are the people who go that step too far when trying to be confident and come off as arrogant, either because they truly believe they are that amazing, or they’re compensating for their low self-esteem.

Avoid them and quash them by not feeding their egos, change the subject of conversation or, if all else fails, just walk away.

Rude a******s

Earlier this year I was introduced to a man who works in recruiting who, when I started asking him about his job (which was expected, given he works in a field I write about) he more or less ignored me, wouldn’t make eye contact and eventually told me he “wasn’t interested” in hearing my “spiel” about this magazine.

Way to go, dickhead. You just made me dislike you in about five seconds, and you didn’t exactly do the company you work for any favours.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be civil, so if you come across someone who can’t be bothered being nice to a stranger, than chances are they’re not all that nice in general.

The condescending types

If you have ever been on the receiving end of this belittling behaviour, you’ll know how unlikeable it is. People who talk down to others, like arrogant people, are generally acting out of insecurity, but that still doesn’t give them an excuse.

So how to do you deal with glib remarks and snide, patronising comments? Well, sometimes you have to play condescending people at their own game, but if you don’t want to fight fire with fire I’d recommend a smoke screen – a distraction – that will simply pull you away from the conversation before they can say anything more hurtful.

Racists, bigots and sexists, etc

Sadly, this is all too common. Being a woman, I have been on the receiving end of a number of “sweetheart” or “darling” comments (if you’re trying to get me to slap you, carry on) and I’ve also witnessed far too many intelligent and seemingly respectful people resort to downright racism in an effort to be funny among their peers.

Newsflash: It’s not cool. Ever. And most people don’t tend to forget that sort of thing.

Also, while I’m at it, here’s a note for men who think it’s acceptable to talk about your mistresses or that “girl” you met while on a business trip in front of perfect strangers: It’s sad, degrading and makes you look very, very bad.

Also, how do you know I’m not friends with your wife, or know someone who is?

The faker

The gigantic, plastered-on smile, the exaggerated “It’s soooo wonderful to meet you!” and all the other ooh-ing and ahh-ing that comes with a person trying way too hard.

It’s exhausting dealing with someone who feigns interest or is over-the-top in their efforts to be liked. If this is you – chill out! People will always prefer your genuine self over whatever it is you’re trying so hard to be.

Negative Nelly/Nancy

Talking to someone who is constantly negative is draining, soul-sucking and awful. I have fluctuated in my life from being an angry young woman and an extremely positive person, and I can quite easily say being positive trumps everything.

If you find yourself cornered with the negative guy at the party, my tactic is to simply not engage in the negativity – these types tend to exaggerate the issues they are facing anyway – but I’ve also had success in simply telling people they are negative. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re being such a downer.

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Rebecca Lewis
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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