Charlotte Grainger
December 30, 2014 9:04 am

Whether we admit it or not, we all want people to like us. It would be wonderful if we could take a leaf out of Taylor Swift’s book and walk around chanting the “haters gonna hate” mantra, but in reality, when haters hate it really stings. Why’s that? Well, the simple answer is that their feelings are a direct assault on your personality. When someone says they straight up hate you — or when you get the I-hate-you vibes — that’s deeply personal and it’s nearly impossible not to take it super personally.

I recently had an experience, which stung me more than I am proud to admit. I was with a friend, in a bar. The prosecco was flowing and so was the chit chat. The subject of a mutual friend came and my friend gave me a sideways glance. “Do you and Laura* have an issue with each other?” I was confused, then stunned, then just a little angry. As far as I knew Laura was an acquaintance, verging on a friend. I’d given her no reason to dislike me, and always attempted to make small talk whenever we met. “No . . . Well, I don’t have a problem with her. Why?”

My friend, of course, tried to change the subject and brush the whole thing off, but it was obvious what she meant. She meant that Laura disliked me and everybody knew it. Later, at a party another girl laughed and asked me how I’d never realized that Laura didn’t like me. As if believing that people are genuine was utter naiveté on my part.

So, what did I do? To be honest, I handled it rather badly. I was caught up in the moment and brave from vodka-lime. I was mean, bordering on cruel. I insulted Laura’s life choices and intellect – something that I should never have done, and something that I still feel terrible about.

But here is how I should have handled it, how I wish I’d handled it, and how I would advise you to, if you are ever faced with the same problem.

Let your anger out (in a healthy way)

Ok, so how I let my anger out was wrong. Satisfying, but still wrong. It was straight up embarrassing and childish. Instead of making a public display and screaming about your feelings, you should take a step back from it all. Yes, you need to get angry. Hell, you deserve to get angry, but you should do it in private. If you can, wait until you’re alone to go wild. Some people say exercise is a good release. Failing that, rant to someone who will understand your feelings, but doesn’t know your hater. Let it out. You will never be able to move on unless you do.

Don’t ask yourself why

Why that person hates you is unimportant. Often, I have found, it is the people who don’t know you all that well that decide they don’t like you. Sitting around, wondering why your hater hates you is futile and crazy-making. In my case, I didn’t have to wonder, I was told. Apparently, Laura didn’t like me because she thought that I was a “bad influence” on people. I know for a fact that I’m just not exciting enough to be a bad influence, but there’s no point in my trying to prove that. The reality is, the reason someone dislikes you doesn’t matter. You can’t guess what people are thinking or what motivates them. You can try to understand it and even if you find out their reason, it will likely mean nothing to you. Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you seep into your thought process. It’s just so not worth it.

Avoid confrontation

The problem with this particular hater is that you have friends in common. If you want to keep your mutual friends, you need to avoid going toe-to-toe with her. Would I like to confront Laura, ask her why she hates me, and get to the bottom of things? Kind of, but I also know it’d do no good. Furthermore, it’s not like we were very good friends to begin with. Some people just don’t mesh, and that’s totally ok!

Ask them for a favor

If you’re still dedicated to changing this person’s opinion of you, there are a few subtle ways to do that. You might think that flattery would work, but why lower yourself to that level? Instead, you should ask your hater for a favor. It might sound crazy, but it is likely to work. When you ask people for help and they give it you, they start to like you. This is called the Benjamin Franklin Effect. Apparently, old Ben F. used this ingenious method to win himself fans in political circles. He would ask people to loan him books for his personal library when he suspected they disliked him. After doing so, his haters turned into friends — but why? There are many theories. Most likely of them all is that people like to feel needed. When you reach out and show someone that you need them, they will warm to you.

Include them in your plans

Ask yourself – what is the core of your haters problem? If you have mutual friends, it is likely that your hater is worried about losing their friend to you. Sometimes people get competitive when it comes to social relationships. If you show that you are no threat to your hater; that, in fact, you want to include her in your plans, it might just change her opinion of you. Next time you are going out with mutual friends, invite her along. You know you want to . . . and, even if you don’t, it will make your life hella easier.

*Of course, I have changed the name here. It’s only fair.

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