Do some people around you seem to hate you for no apparent reason? Don’t worry, as it’s not your fault. A comprehensive study published in 2013 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that we all have a “dispositional attitude”, a tendency to develop certain attitudes towards the various stimuli in our life. There are two types of dispositional attitudes.
Types of Dispositional Attitudes
- Positive dispositional attitude – The people displaying it (lovers) are predisposed to optimism and seeing the best in people and situations. They always find something they like, something to relate to, something to hang on to when things get tough.
- Negative dispositional attitude – The people displaying it (haters) define themselves through the things they hate. They expect the worst in every situation, they focus on the negative traits of the people around them and the situations they come across. They take more joy in other people’s failures than in their own achievements.
Otherwise put, haters will hate you no matter what you do. The fact that you have noticed their attitude and you are preoccupied with improving it suggests you have a positive dispositional attitude. You want to see the best in people, and you want people to like you the way you like them.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible, at least not when haters are involved. The best thing you can do is to focus on your goals, on the people you love, and on the good things in your life, and ignore haters. Believe it or not, the loss is theirs. You will accomplish more, and enjoy yourself and your life more, while their hateful attitude will prevent them from doing the same.
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Lovers Accomplish More, Haters Hate More
No, this is not just an assumption or an attempt to make you feel better, but the conclusion of another study published in 2014 in Social Psychology. The authors correlated the subjects’ dispositional attitudes with their decisions and abilities to develop new skills and enjoy new activities.
They found that lovers have the tendency to try new things, engage in more activities, and find more joy in their endeavors. At the opposite end, haters tend to stick to the same behaviors and activities, focus more on their hatred than on anything else, and rarely take joy in their actions.
However, the latter category does have an advantage. By focusing on a limited number of activities, haters tend to extend their knowledge in that field and become better at their job, compared to lovers who are always curious and willing to learn a bit of everything.
At this point, you’re probably wishing that haters were able to focus on other things too, and just leave you alone. Unfortunately, psychologists disagree this can happen. So how can you deal with them without letting their hatred discourage you? As always, the best strategy to defeat “the enemy” is to get to know them.
How to Know Your Haters – They Are Insecure, Yet Predictable
You do not have to befriend haters and start asking questions in order to get to know them. You just have to understand them and their way of acting. John R. Schafer did a good job explaining hater psychology back in 2003, through his work: The Seven-Stage Hate Model.
According to Schafer, all haters are insecure. They may grow to hate you because of something you did (rational haters) or because of something that has nothing to do with you, your personality, or your actions (irrational hate).
When they look at you, haters either see the same things they hate about themselves, or they see everything they would like to become and they cannot. Either way, they feel frustrated and insecure and they will take it out on you. According to Schafer, their hatred will most likely follow seven stages.
The 7 Stages of Hate
- Finding other haters
- Instigating the others to hate you
- Expressing their hate verbally
- Turning verbal denigration into taunting and offensive gestures
- Getting physical
- Attacking without weapons
- Attacking with everything they have, to destroy you.
Obviously, not all haters are the criminals and psychopaths Schafer was referring to in his work. Their purpose will not be to destroy your life or kill you but to ruin your reputation, prevent you from enjoying activities they hate, prevent you from having friends and being successful in a place where they cannot.
Otherwise put, they are too insecure to pursue their own goals, so, instead, they will do everything in their power to prevent you from pursuing your own and, thus, prove to themselves that they are better than you or, at least, you are no better than they are. You obviously do not want to allow that, so what can you do?
How to Deal with Haters
Again, Schafer’s model may help. According to it, you need to:
- Identify your haters and the hate stage they are at.
- If they are at an early stage, consider intervening with appropriate interdiction strategies (for example, at work, you can take your issues to your employer, or simply make it clear, in public, that you will not tolerate such behavior.
- Penetrate their hate mask and address their insecurities (you may be able to catch them at a time when they are vulnerable and show them their insecurity is unjustified because they are better than you or you are even more insecure).
Personally, I’ve discovered that ignoring haters is the best strategy. If you let them get to you, their hate will torment you and discourage you. The more you will try to reach out to them and show them your good side, the more insecure they will feel, the more they will want to be like you, and the more they will hate you.
In high school, several colleagues hated me. I never understood why, and, at first, I tried to show them I was just like them. They went after my school play part, they tried to kick me out of the school’s handball team, they tried to seduce my boyfriend and come between us. I decided to ignore them, and they got so angry that they made a fool of themselves repeatedly. The same strategy paid out with workplace haters too.
I suggest you do the same: focus on your own goals, pretend they do not exist, and let them choke on their own hatred. Their insecurity and their hatred will cause them to make costly mistakes. When they do, it is up to them if they learn from those mistakes and move on, or cling on to their hate and allow it to consume them. Either way, you will be on your way to even more accomplishments, enjoying life next to the people around you.
Of course, this is just my way of dealing with haters. What is yours? We’d love to find out more about your strategies about dealing with haters, so do not hesitate to leave a comment or reach out to us via social media channels below.
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