Dealing pic 1What do you do when you walk into work to find a known-to-be-difficult person is now on your team? Or a new neighbor that can’t get along with anyone? It happens to the best of us. So what do we do?

Get angry? Get dramatic? Complain to anyone who’ll listen, especially on social media?

These are all fine solutions—for perpetuating the situation. But for real resolution, the first thing to do is to let go of the past.

What’s Past is Past
We can’t change the past, fix it, or go back to live in it again, so there’s no point in holding on to it so tightly. The only constant is change. To quote the all-too-creepy Borg from Star Trek, “Resistance is futile.”

What can be done is a concerted effort to make today better, not just personally but for everyone around. The future can be just as blissful as the past, but that won’t happen by complaining about it, and it won’t happen overnight.

The Easy Road
The next thing to do is change the way you think. Why you? Because changing someone else is entirely too difficult. You’re actually taking the easy way out this time.

In addition to “nine-to-five” employment, I’ve moonlighted as a waitress in five U.S. states spanning a period of approximately 18 years. That’s a lot of coworker personalities, and innumerable hungry guests. (Aside: Hungry people can be temperamental.) When faced with a crazy coworker or a guest who walks in grumpy, the first thing I used to notice was that I had nothing in common with this other person, and I simply couldn’t agree with their line of thinking. Then I swallowed my pride, put myself in their shoes, and always found a way to relate. Always. And that’s because the biggest obstacle was pride, and that was in me and I change it. (Incidentally, it made me very good at caring for hungry people.)

Look for Something to Like
When you start looking for things to like in someone else, it gets easier and easier to find things. I saw this positivity in action when I worked a food booth at a fair. Summer after summer, the owner of the company and I would work together, side by side, and all day long I could overhear her talking to herself as she cooked and people-watched, saying things like, “Oh, I love her shoes… I want that shirt… Great haircut…” When one of those people came up to buy from us, she’d tell them her compliment. She never held back. She meant what she said, and the person she complimented would leave our booth different–taller, in a way. Without even trying, because it was simply in her nature, the business owner managed to get the “good” flowing, and it kept flowing. (Think about it: When complimented, you typically look for an opportunity to pay it forward.)

Simple Works
It sounds simple and even obvious, and it is. And that’s why it works. With a little practice, in very quick time thought patterns start changing. Negativity won’t be the first thing on your mind and out of your mouth. Instead of thinking to yourself, “What’s his problem?” and “Who does she think she is?” you find you’re actually thinking, “I like that person’s style,” and “I’m going to ask her what workout she does to get legs like that.”

This approach has helped me strike up friendships with people the complete opposite of me who have become amazing and good friends. It’s helped me with work relationships, helped me defend coworkers during misunderstandings, and it’s helped me be a much happier person.

Found in Translation
These practices translate into other avenues: When faced with adversity, not getting the job/raise/promotion/funding/etc., your first focus is on what new opportunity the loss creates, not the loss itself.


Elephants by artist Bela Roongta

Is everything sunshine and roses? No. Do you have to like everybody? No. But putting these things into practice, you’ll find that less and less will bother you about other people, so that when something big does happen in life, you’ll have the focus to handle it.

We’re all human. And we’re all in this together.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler who has waited tables in five U.S. states. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, Project365, can be found at