Get to know the people you don’t like

Get to know the people you don’t like

I ran across this quote from Abraham Lincoln, and it rang very true for me as a lesson I’ve learned over the years.

“I don’t like that man.  I must get to know him better.” 

For me, this speaks to the importance of understanding people with different perceptions and views from your own.  This leads to learning and outcomes that far surpass what you may have achieved on your own.

In my own career, I have found this to be very helpful.  One of my biggest advocates, and someone I support strongly, is a colleague whom I did not particularly like immediately.  My strategy?  I asked her to have coffee with me to chat about some of the projects we were each working on.  That first coffee was a challenge, but I did get a different perspective that helped with my work.  I continued this strategy and the outcome is that now, she and I are in an informal peer mentoring relationship, and we both support and advocate for each other every chance we get.

What have you learned from people you don’t like?

Pic from Flickr user George Eastman House


  1. June 1, 2011 at 11:01 am

    LOVE it! There is a question I ask at the end of all my interviews. "If you had the opportunity to have a brain download from anyone, past, present or future-who would it be and why. Recently someone said Abe Lincoln. He really was an amazing man when it came to communication. Now, let's all go out and do this at least once a week-talk with someone we had an instant dislike for-make your world a better place-starting with you ;)

    Reply »
    • June 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

      Thanks so much for reading Michele! The more I learn about Abe Lincoln, the more of a fan I am. He was an amazing leader. Great call to action - spread the word and let's make a difference!

      Reply »
  2. June 1, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Pure genius. I actually have a Tweetdeck column for people that I 'don't like'. I watch, I listen and I learn. And eventually I remove them from the column. Because eventually I like them. I understand them...

    Reply »
    • June 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

      Great idea Marcy! I'm adding that column to my Hootsuite now! Thanks for commenting.

      Reply »
  3. Joseph Gier
    June 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

    This is a very enlightening post and an very cogent argument. While it is difficult to move out your circle and venture into unfamiliar territory, we benefit so much by the experience. While I do not think many are equipped emotionally to understand another's point of view or prospective, it is so rewarding on many levels. It can lead to a wealth of new thinking and approach to things. Good Post and thank you for making it.

    Reply »
    • June 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

      So true Joseph, it's a difficult thing to do, and often involves checking your ego for a while, but the more uncomfortable you are, the more you are learning! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply »
  4. Greg Patterson
    June 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    'Every time you encounter something that forces you to “handle it,” your self-esteem is raised considerably. You learn to trust that you will survive, no matter what happens. And in this way your fears are diminished immeasurably.' -Susan Jeffers

    Reply »
    • June 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      Absolutely true Greg! You learn so much from the struggles you encounter throughout work and life. Dealing with them directly makes you stronger.

      Reply »
  5. June 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Lovely post Pam. My philosophy is have an open mind and to look for the good in people. Understanding another's perspective helps make a connection and build a relationship.

    Reply »
    • June 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks for commenting Joanne! I agree - you won't find the good unless you look sometimes, and it is well worth it!

      Reply »
  6. June 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Are we talking "hidden dislike" or "out-loud dislike" because the latter can make it near impossible to have a sit-down?

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    • June 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      True, it can be difficult to sit down with someone if there is an "out-loud" dislike, as you put it. It's quite possible that my particular situation could have eventually gotten to that point, too, if I hadn't headed it off in the beginning and gotten to know her. This was more of a tension and uncomfortable feeling that we both shared. But with that said, I think it's important to clear the air with someone with whom you have an "out-loud" dislike, too. That post will come in the near future :) Thanks for the inspiration!

      Reply »
  7. June 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Great point! Understanding different people's viewpoints are critical, as they have their own reasoning as to why they believe in something/act the way they are

    Reply »
    • June 1, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      Absolutely, Chris, and the more we understand different viewpoints, the better decisions we can make for the entire group. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply »
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