I try not to read top 10 lists. I try not to read top-anything lists. But dang it, sometimes I really do just want to hear a series of succinct points. The internet knows this about me and other humans, so occasionally it sends these numbered lists my way.
One that came up in my LinkedIn news feed recently was something to the effect of “10 Reasons Why People Might Not Like You”. I thought, “Hmm, I care marginally about this. Okay, maybe I care about this more than marginally, but I shouldn’t. And reading a stupid online article isn’t going to make me any more likable. This is dumb.” So, naturally, I clicked on the article and proceeded to read it.
Unsurprisingly, it contained a list of fairly obvious points about how people might not like me if I talk over them, force them to do my work, or smell bad. I’ll concede to the fact that it was a decent little reminder, but I knew after reading it that it was incomplete.
So I created my OWN top 10 list. Why might people not like you? Well, they might have trouble with the fact that…
1) You’re carrying a $2 bill in your pocket.
What are you, some kind of freak? What sorcery did you undertake to retrieve such a thing? Get some ones and fives like the rest of us! Or maybe embrace the future and pay with everything through Venmo. Otherwise you’re just not even in touch with the future, luddite!
2) You have yet to achieve inbox zero.
You haven’t hacked your productivity? You’re inefficient. I bet you don’t even drink bulletproof coffee or delegate all of your administrative work to offshore teams.
3) You keep hand sanitizer on the left side of your desk. What are you trying to say, left-handed people are better than right-handed people!??
4) You changed the background on your computer to a picture of seals. Do you know what seals eat?! Fish. Do you know who else eats fish?! MURDERERS AND TERRORISTS!
5) You’ve eaten pizza before. Millions of pizzas die everyday and you do nothing to stop it. How do you sleep at night?
6) You bowled 9 strikes in a row and got a 6 in your last round. Why aren’t you wearing your “I’m a Failure” badge?
7) You aren’t fluent in Classical Armenian, Sanskrit, or even Old Church Slavonic, for that matter. Have you no respect for the languages that came before yours, you ingrate?!
8) You own an uneven number of gardening tools. Do your shears, tool #37, have a buddy to assume responsibility for their safety in the event of an emergency? I don’t think so. And that’s your fault.
9) You accidentally waved back to them when they were waving to someone else. Which means you’re not only unlikeable, but a complete weirdo.
10) You have a face. And it just sucks. I don’t know. Something about it.
For real, though.
The reasons that some people will find to dislike you are some of the most egregiously asinine reasons on the planet. The above is just a parody of those reasons (actually, not really – someone actually told me that they didn’t like me because of my face one time. An adult. In college.) Most people like me enough, but that doesn’t stop the occasional person from thinking I’m too quiet, too loud, too obnoxious, too opinionated, too stupid, too antisocial (you notice all of these are kinda conflicting? Yeah…), etc.
That being said, the goal is not “to not care what anyone thinks” (which, by the way, is an impossible goal). The goal is to actively care what the important people think. These important people, for most of us, are:
- Our close ties like family, true friends (the ones that feel comfortable enough to take care of you all night when you’re drunk, or tell you when your cooking sucks), and romantic partners.
- People instrumental to your advancement as an employee or human, such as your coworkers or mentors (note: some of these may fall into the first category, too).
- Loose ties, or people you don’t know yet, but would like to get to know. Yes, this means people you’re “networking” with, even though I loathe networking and I’ll talk about why in a future post.
With these people, seek out their company. Seek out their advice. Even if you’re an extreme introvert (like myself), the maintenance of these relationships should be a priority. Without them, you’ll start to feel incomplete. Trust me on this one. If one of these people tells me I’m being obnoxious that day, that’s when I should believe it.
Internet trolls, people on the street, and failed Tinder dates do not fall into the above categories, so stop caring about them. Shut them out of your mind. Put those bad memories in the Recycling Bin and then delete them forever. I’m not saying don’t treat people with respect, but don’t validate their words of hurt.
Now, with this aforementioned goal comes the caveat that no matter how old or wise or good at loving your awesome self you get, you are going to care about what non-important people think once in a while. That’s okay. People often either don’t think before they speak, or speak maliciously in an attempt to hurt someone else due to their own insecurity/self-loathing/stupidity. Understand that this as an unchangeable reality of the world – and just work towards changing your reaction to this reality.
“Easier said than done” applies here. Practicing this attitude will help you and true indifference can only be cultivated through this practice. Trust me.
If all else fails, just imagine someone saying to you, “I hate you because I find your inability to eat pinecones to be in poor taste”. Because whatever qualm this person has with you is probably as humorously misguided as you not eating pinecones, quite honestly.