Oct 122010

In life, you are bound to meet people who dislike you. There is little help for this. You cannot hope to please everyone. Having said that, there is no reason to take what they do personally. Retaliation is a vicious cycle. A moment’s triumph against them could cost you long term respect and support from others around you. Instead, there are better ways to deal with people who dislike you. Read on to find out how.

Praising Criticism

In the early 200s, many warlords fought to rule China until three kingdoms remained. The kingdom of Wei, led by Cao Cao, dominated the north. The kingdom of Shu, ruled by Liu Bei, controlled the west. The kingdom of Wu, led by Sun Quan, controlled the east.

In the kingdom of Wu, there was a young scholar by the name of Lu Xun. Sun Quan valued him for his insights and wisdom. To strengthen the kingdom, Lu Xun proposed to subdue the Shanyue bandits in the southern region of Wu. Apart from restoring peace, he could also get the Shanyue people to serve in the army. Finding the suggestion prudent, Sun Quan gave Lu Xun the task.

Although the bandits had superior numbers, Lu Xun defeated the main force in a night attack. He then recruited soldiers for his army to restore order. Those who were too weak to fight had to till the land instead. Soon, Lu Xun’s army managed to wipe out the remnants of the bandits and pacify the south.

But Lu Xun’s actions alarmed Chunyu Shi, a local governor. The latter wrote to Sun Quan to inform him that Lu Xun disrupted the peace by recruiting too many people into the army. Well aware of the matter, Lu Xun returned to the capital to give his report. Instead of speaking against Chunyu Shi, Lu Xun praised him for his criticism. He stated that Chunyu Shi was a worthy official because he cared for the people. Lu Xun’s open-minded counsel impressed Sun Quan.

Proceed with Caution

Lu Xun was careful and deliberate in his actions. Wherever he could, he did everything by the book. But he also made sure to plan for all possibilities. This ensured that he made little mistakes or errors that would bring him down. Thus, even though Chunyu Shi complained against him, Lu Xun could defend his actions with his successes.

Caution is vital in all that you do. If you act in a careless manner, you are likelier to make mistakes that others can exploit. No one would be happier to use these mistakes against you than your rivals would. So do not leave openings for others to use against you. Always be careful and do your best.

Be Aware of the Big Picture

Chunyu Shi reported Lu Xun to Sun Quan for the good of the kingdom. He did so because he cared about the people. On his part, Lu Xun could see the logic and motives behind Chunyu Shi’s complain. As such, he did not blame him. Instead, he acknowledged the good intentions of Chunyu Shi towards the people and praised him for it.

Always try to look at the big picture while considering the motives of your rival. Sometimes, they may have valid reasons for speaking out against you. In such cases, it is best not to regard them with hostility but to change for the greater good. After all, both of you may well be working towards the same purpose.

Do Not Lose the Moral High Ground

Lu Xun chose not to denounce Chunyu Shi in front of Sun Quan. By doing so, he would have lost the moral high ground. Instead, he accepted the merits of the criticism and halted the endless cycle of retaliation right there and then. He could afford to do so because he carried out his mission successfully and could defend his own actions. Thus, he could acknowledge the room for improvement. Not only did he appear open-minded and big-hearted, Sun Quan loved him even more for it.

Your actions speak volumes about your nature. It shows the world who you are and what you think. Retaliation only cheapens you in the eyes of others. It causes you to lose the moral high ground and risks turning people against you. This is because it is very easy for retaliation to get out of hand. But rare is the person who is able to defend himself without retaliating. If you can achieve this, you come across as magnanimous and big-hearted. Soon everyone will know who the petty person is.

Use Criticism

Lu Xun may not have been aware of the full impact of his actions. He was not a native of the region and had come to the south on a mission. Thus, he lacked familiarity. His subordinates may also have been unwilling to criticize him. Under such conditions, it would have been very easy for Lu Xun to remain unaware of his errors. Through his criticism, Chunyu Shi opened Lu Xun’s eyes to the things he missed.

Friends may not always be forthright with you for various reasons. Rivals however, have no need to say the things you wish to hear. They are not there to please you or to win your favour. As such, if there is an opening for them to exploit, they will do so. If you can learn from their criticism, you will grow rapidly in the process. Of course, not all criticism has merit. Thus, you will need to be discerning to take what is useful and to discard what is not.

Taking Action

Dealing with people is not easy. Managing people who dislike you is even worse. If you can avoid them, that is for the best. But if you cannot, then you will need to think of the big picture while maintaining the moral high ground. In this way, you will control the situation. On the one hand, you will be able to protect yourself. On the other hand, you can use the enmity to your advantage. This is the way to be in harmony with your times and circumstances. That said, it does not hurt to acquire new skills and knowledge to manage people who dislike you.

Are there any other ways to manage people who dislike you that I have missed out? Do share your thoughts and comments below.

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  12 Responses to “How to Manage People Who Dislike You”

  1. i like your post, you reminded me of the book 48 laws of prower, thanks for writing this :)

    • Hi Farouk,

      Thank you for your compliment. I have read and enjoyed the 48 laws of power by Robert Greene. That book has been a great introduction to many of my favourite historical figures and books on strategy. :D

  2. Hi, this is a really great post!! Thanks for the helpful tips on managing difficult people. You are so right about using retaliation is the wrong way to handle the problem. Things always will get turned against you! I’ve learned this first hand. Also taking the high road is the best advice. Taking the high road lifts you up and away from the pettyness of the difficult person! Thanks.


    • Hi Dandy,

      Yeah, like you I also learned the hard way that retaliation usually leads to greater problems. If we can protect ourselves and not give in to the “dark side” it will turn out better for the parties involved. Not easy, but it can be done.

      It is true that it is better to take the high road with people you dislike, but this is easier said than done, especially in the midst of difficulties. Even so, that does not mean we shouldn’t try our best to remember to take the high road. Practice makes perfect.

      Thank you for your kind comments!

  3. I liked your post a lot. I always have enjoyed history and the lessons it can teach us. Your name/avatar and insightful comments on another site got me interested in your site. I am glad I came her to check out this article. I shall check out a few more of your pieces and be back again in the future.

    Keep it up! Thanks,


    • Hi Steve,

      I’m glad you liked what I wrote. If you have always enjoyed history and its lessons like I have, then do stay tune because history is a great love of mine and I will continue to draw upon lessons from history for my articles. And it is about time I choose a story from the Middle East so that I will live up to my name of Vizier. ;)

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Hi,

    It would be great if we could only encounter people who like us- but there’s bound to be folk who take a dislike to us, no matter how ‘nice’ we try to be. Even being nice can cause others to dislike us!

    It’s definitely the best course of action to stay true to our own values when dealing with people who dislike us. That way, we never lower our standards to match their behavior which can end up with us regretting our actions and feeling worse off.

    The best tactic – whenever possible – is to simply ignore the negative actions of someone who dislikes us. Pretty soon, they’ll soon get the message that you don’t care about what they do or say. This is the ultimate antidote to their attempts to put you down.

    • Hi Scott,

      It is quite tiresome that some people dislike us even though we try to be nice to them. I recall having such a personal experience myself.

      I agree that having the strength to walk away is a great way to deal with people. But when we can’t, we just have to be extra careful and aware of our own actions.

      Thanks for your comments!

  5. Good post, I like the way you think and how you use something that you normally shouldn’t manipulate (morality) to your advantage.

    • Hi Michelle,

      I won’t go so far as to say I purposely manipulate morality to my advantage. There are always consequences for every action. From my experience, I have found, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, that taking the moral high ground yields the best results in dealing with people who dislike you. In dealing with a rival, we should not tune out the impact of our actions on the bystanders who observe the proceedings. Neither should we go too far in dealing with a person who dislikes you since you might need to work with them one day. Today’s enemy might become tomorrow’s friend.

      Thanks for your comments!

  6. Thanks for this article! In reading this, I realize that in dealing with people that don’t like me I need to refrain from the “us vs them” mentality.

    • Hi Guitar Builder,

      It takes an open-minded person to refrain from the “us vs them” mentality, as you say, because it has become natural instinct for many people to feel this way when dealing with people who don’t like them. If you are aware of your actions in such a situation, it will be easier for you to detach yourself and remind yourself of the bigger picture. That way your actions will be for the best because they are in harmony with the times and circumstances.

      Thank you for your comments!

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