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How to get past dislliking someone.

How to start liking someone you dislike

Sometimes we have good reasons for disliking people or groups of people, such as when they realistically have bad intentions toward us, intent to harm, dominate, or


Sometimes our dislike (if you want to know more about the neuroscience of disgust, click here – link under construction) is not helpful or constructive, such as dislike that comes from unconscious bias, a negative experience we can’t seem to get over even if it would serve our best interest to, or the fact that we hold views that are different from the ones they hold.

For the survival of our society which has become increasingly politically polarized, each side being repulsed by the other, it is important to return to liking one another on some level. Even if you hope to influence people who think/vote differently from you, your chances are slim if you can’t convey liking and respect toward them, and get them to like you.

To get to like people you dislike, start small. That’s right, one at a time. At least start there. Then do two things:

  • Do them a favor. Simple as that. Experimental psychologist Elliot Aronson’s studies conclude that the folk wisdom, “We make friends by allowing people to do something for us” is actually true, and that the reverse is also true – that we get to like other people by their accepting a kindness from us. This helps us to like them in two ways: First, it tilts cognitive dissonance in the direction of liking, because if we do something nice for them, it invests us in them, and it is hard to simultaneously hold the ideas of being invested with ideas of dislike. Doing them a favor also helps you experience the fulfillment of being of service (see the Service blog post), and it reduces your dislike if you associate them with fulfillment.

  • Work with them interdependently. Aronson’s work with experiments in underperforming classrooms, in which he mixed groups of diverse students who ordinarily didn’t work or play together revealed that interdependence also improves liking and the inclination to mix more in play in addition to tasks

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