Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not Everyone Will Like You... And That's Okay (Part 2)

Sometimes things just don't work out. Relationships are hard. It's not you, it's them.

I am not talking about dating. I am talking about your professional business network.

I got a call from a person who had a falling out with a business friend. This person sort of "broke up" with him, yet their relationship was purely professional. She basically fired him as a friend. He was confused, and I think hurt, by the whole thing.

He wants an explanation. And while politely looking for some clarification might bring him some answers, in the end he really needs to stop dwelling on one person in his network who does not appreciate the mutually beneficial relationship he thought they had. I told him that if this is not a pattern with the people in your life (fleeing), then he should let it go and concentrate on the people who do matter.

May of 2007 I wrote a post titled "Not Everyone Will Like You.... It's Okay", which is one of the most popular blog posts I have ever written. (In fact, if you google search Not Everyone Will Like You it comes up number one.... and it seems a lot of people hunt for information on this topic!). Apparently people are often surprised by the fact that they do not click with everyone they meet, and they worry about it when they have one person whom simply does not connect with them.

You cannot force someone to be an active part of your world. If you find that a series of people avoid you (or worse, alienate you), then you should look inward about how you interact with people and if you are bringing value to them, or just seeking benefits for yourself. But if it is rare occasion that people reject you, do not take it personally. It really might be about them, not you!

I had a friend in college who was like my sister. We hung out all the time and helped each other in some rough times. I never assumed there would come a time in our lives when we would not be friends. However, she met a boyfriend who was none too happy with her best buddy being a guy (or something, as he made me persona non-grata very fast.... heck, maybe he just did not like ME). I had no desire to date her, but both she and her new beau were convinced that I was a threat to their relationship. She told me she had to make a choice (really? she did not), and it was NOT me. It was the only time in my life when someone who I considered a very close friend tossed me aside like trash. It hurt. I did not know how to handle the rejection. There was clearly a misunderstanding that I felt could be overcome. I tried to keep the friendship alive. It was a disaster.

While I have never seen this person again in 20 years (she did marry the guy and I hear they have had a good life...which makes me very happy!), I still regret that our friendship dissolved for what I still view as "no reason".

But it was from this experience that I learned that you cannot force someone to be your friend. Relationships of any type must be a "two way street" and mutually desired. I have many other friends whom I have remained in touch with for decades, so this is not a pattern. Everyone has their own stuff in their heads, and I will never know the real motivation for these events.

Regardless of her reasons for not wanting or needing me as her friend, it was her prerogative to not like me anymore. I am sure if she were to comment on this story that her point of view of the situation two decades ago would be different.

That is the important thing to remember. Everyone sees things from their own point of view. You can drive yourself nuts contemplating what you could do differently, but you can never control the thoughts and actions of other people.

The best advice is to move on when there is not a bond with someone in your network. Do not dwell on the single incident. Be sure that you are treating the other people in your life well and making a positive impact in their life. Let go of those who do not choose to understand the value that you bring to those in your network.

Make sure that you take the time to be sure you are making others a priority. It is easy to get full of yourself and only focused on your own needs. It happens to everyone, but this will turn off a lot of folks. If the pattern is people who you have formerly been friends with who now avoid you, then the issue might be you. People like those who are "givers", not those who are "takers". The trick is to find the right balance of give and take with those in your life.

My point in this is that you have to pay attention to how you treat others, but if you are making efforts to be a resource for those in your network, then most people will see the value that your bring to mutually beneficial relationships. Those who don't are not worth the time you spend dwelling on.

Okay folks, this post rambled on a bit... but I think it is an important topic. Your thoughts?

Have A Great Day.



Ragen Chastain said...

Great posts!

I find it amazing that people who can extemporize at length about who they don't like in their networking circle (and why), are simply mystified when people don't like them.

I think that too many people look at networking as "making everyone like me" when the truth is that you are looking for people with whom you click. My business partner and I went through this when making the decision to network in fuzzy pink slippers. Lots of people love it, but if someone thinks that it is inappropriate and unprofessional, it doesn't mean that one of us is right and one is wrong, just that we perhaps aren't a good fit to work together.

Jon Ray said...

I have struggled with this many times in my life. It used to just boggle my mind that everyone did not like me and so I got stuck in this trap of playing things safe, so that I could try and please everyone.

Well, that was the wrong way to go about things, because when you try to please everyone, you're really just selling yourself short to those who really do believe in you. Thus, I've been on a tangent, lately, where I just speak my mind without worrying about who might not like me for it. I've lost some blog readers, but I've certainly gained just as many and I'm having more fun.

All in all, I've learned that being true to yourself is fun and so is ruffling a few feathers from time to time.

Have a great turkey holiday, Thom! ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't like you either. :)

Aruni said...

Great post Thom! Hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving. We had a great time yesterday with my family!

I can relate to this post because as you know a friend broke up with me a while ago because of how I said something but we've recently made a little peace and it makes me so happy to have her back in my life...even if on the periphery. :-)