There is no question that our opinion of someone will positively or negatively impact our interactions with them.
You can bet that the higher your opinion of someone, the better you will behave and communicate toward them. And the same can be said for the inverse.
So if our goal is to increase quality interactions with people, that really leaves us with two options.
The first is to only interact with people whom we hold in high regard.
The obvious problem there is that we can’t always control who we interact with. We don’t get to choose our colleagues, neighbors, relatives or in laws – at least not directly. So that option isn’t really practical.
What’s the second option?
To improve our opinion of the people around us.
Now this is a solution that is far more viable. After all, our opinion of a person is something that we have direct control over.
So if you’re interested in increasing the quality of your interactions with the people around you, particularly the interactions you least enjoy, you’ll want to stick around for this one.
Okay so our objective here is to have smoother and more enjoyable interactions with people. And this seems futile when it comes to people that you aren’t crazy about. Yet, we can’t avoid these people, so what are we to do?
We need to take the reins of something we can control – our brain.
Specifically, we need to train it to see these individuals in a more positive light. The better we regard these people, the higher quality our interactions with them become.
Fortunately, we have a super simple strategy for this: Remember the good stuff.
Here’s how it works:
Recall 3 memories that gave you a positive impression of them. Maybe they showed you a small kindness. Maybe they paid you a simple compliment. Maybe they didn’t help you directly, but they did help someone you care about. Or contributed to a cause you also support.
At first, you may struggle to come up with anything. That’s normal. If we’re not a fan of someone, our brain is likely to focus on the things we don’t like about them. Research shows our brain’s default mode is to prove our existing way of thinking. It spends very little effort trying to disprove our thoughts and current belief systems.
But that’s precisely why we have to do this exercise consciously. Just because something good they’ve done doesn’t jump to mind, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
If after several minutes you can’t come up with anything, that’s fine. It’s time to turn to their friends or others who you know hold that person in high regard.
Ask them what they like about this person. What do they appreciate or respect about them? What stories can they think of that show how awesome this person is?
The key here is to build a case in our head for how this person isn’t so bad after all. The more positive memories and attributes we can associate with them, the better we’ll think of them.
And by training our brains to think of those positive thoughts when we encounter the person, we activate all the “friend” triggers in our communication behaviors. When this happens, both our verbals and non-verbals convey a warmth and openness that will facilitate a much smoother interaction with them.
The person we’re speaking to will also pick up on this and will begin to reciprocate with greater kindness and feeling. This kicks off a wonderful virtuous cycle that leads to a much more substantial and harmonious relationship.
So there you have it: a foolproof strategy to improving your opinion of someone.
It’s as simple as training your brain to associate them with positive thoughts. You can do this by recalling favorable memories of them, or if those don’t exist, by collecting positive impressions from the people who like and respect them.
As you improve your opinion of this person, the quality of your interactions with them will steadily rise, and soon enough you will have more favorable memories of them than you know what to do with!
In fact, it’s entirely possible that you emerge from this process as – dare I say it – friends.
So now that I've shared our thoughts, I’d love to hear your own ideas for changing your opinion about someone. How does your opinion affect your interactions with the person? What other ways can you improve the quality of your social interaction with a person you might not like that much but are interacting with regularly?
Share that with me and the Explearning community in the comments down below.
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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners.
Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.
Happy Explearning ⚡