Today’s world is increasingly defined by news media and social media storytelling stories with a lot of hatred. Perusing these media will quickly reveal a lot of people hating each other on the basis of varying opinions, religious beliefs, cultures, ethnicities, political views, et cetera. Posturing, insults, threats, and name-calling have become the order of the day. We live in an increasingly interconnected world with so many opportunities for us to get together, so why are we more isolated than ever before? Why is there so much hatred out there?
It is easier to hate people when you keep them at arm’s length, depersonalize them, and discourage any opportunity that will allow you to see their pain and struggles. It is easy to hate other people when you make assumptions about them and generalize. It is easy to hate others when you focus on their faults and weaknesses, but you look only at your strengths when storytelling stories about yourself. It is easy to hate when your knowledge about people who are different from you exist in your mind only, and you are afraid to leave your mindsets and truly get to know them.
But in the end, all that hatred does not feel good and you want out. So, how can you do that?
People Are Hard To Hate Up-Close. So How Do We Get Closer?
- Put yourself in other people’s shoes
Practicing empathy and compassion are likely the most efficient ways to understand other people. For this to happen, you will need to learn and practice how to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see things from their perspectives. Doing this will help you to listen attentively and understand other people’s opinions and beliefs when storytelling stories. It will help you to challenge the prejudices you have about people.
As a result, this will allow you to better explain your own perspectives in a way that resonates with people and in a humane way. In the end, practicing empathy and compassion are not about agreeing and adopting everyone’s opinions, but more about understanding their roots.
- Practice Hanlon’s Razor
Bet it sometimes feels natural for you to assume the worst intention in people’s actions. For example, if you don’t receive the memo about an important event at your workplace, then the person in charge is surely trying to derail your career. If an acquaintance fails to respond to your email, then s/he must dislike you. These types of assumptions could lead to resentment and hatred. This is where Hanlon’s razor steps in.
Hanlon’s razor is a principle that states, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect/ignorance”.
Applying this mental model in your day to day life; will help you take a step back, and factor in non-malicious reasons for people acting the way they do toward you. Looking at the examples above, maybe your colleague thought s/he had sent you the memo or your new friend did not receive your email. Don’t always assume malicious intent.
- Recognize and respect the value in differing opinions and beliefs
It feels natural for us to be closer to and to love the people who have similar opinions and beliefs that we do. It might also seem natural for us to distance ourselves, and in some extreme instances, hate those with contrary opinions and beliefs. Some have even argued that this “us vs. them” mentality served an evolutionary purpose at one time. Yes! It is perfectly normal to feel good when other people share our mindsets, but it does not mean we must hate those who do not.
The truth is you are not always right. And even when you are, another person’s contribution, although conflicting, might be better than yours. Not to mention, a counter argument could challenge you to come up with an even better idea. It is important to recognize and respect differing opinions. Even though it does not always feel good, it will create an exit for resentment and hate.
If you do your best to practice these lessons, you will quickly realize what she mentioned in her bestselling memoir, “Becoming” – “I’ve learned that it’s harder to hate up close.” – Michelle Obama.