Young People Ask . . .
Why Don’t People Like Me?
“UNLESS you are an exceptionally secure person,” says writer Beth Levine, “at some point you too have worried whether people find you dull.” Yes, it is normal and healthy to like being liked, and when others seem to shy away from us, we tend to worry. ‘What is wrong with me?’ we wonder.
Concern over whether others like them has driven some youths to despair. Dave, for example, felt that other young people were deliberately avoiding him. The effects of this rejection? “I felt lonely, worthless, even scared,” recalls Dave. “It was one of the most distressing circumstances I’ve ever faced.” What, then, if you sometimes get the feeling that others avoid you?
‘Nobody Likes Me’—Or Do They?
First of all, try to analyze whether your feelings of being disliked are rooted in reality or in imagination. Does the fact that you are not the most popular person in your school or neighborhood mean that people dislike you? Of course not! Such all-or-nothing thinking is self-defeating and unrealistic. Really, it is the rare person whom nobody likes. The fact that you are perhaps overlooked from time to time does not mean that people feel animosity toward you.
View your situation objectively and realistically. Do you perhaps have one “friend sticking closer than a brother”? (Proverbs 18:24) Then obviously someone finds you likable! Take a look, too, at your family relationships. Do not your parents, brothers, and sisters seem to enjoy your company? Would this not indicate, then, that you do have attractive qualities? If you still have your doubts, ask someone—perhaps a trusted friend or family member—to help you analyze how others feel about you. Usually, the situation is nowhere near as dire as you think it is.
At times, though, you may be kindly told that some people are indeed shying away from you. This will hurt. But be grateful that someone cared enough for you to tell you the truth. (Proverbs 27:6; Galatians 4:16) Rather than despair, try to put your finger on what aspect of your behavior is causing the problem.
“Turn Off the Flow”
Could it be, for example, that you simply talk too much? Overly talkative people are often avoided by others. People feel cheated when they themselves are not given sufficient opportunity to speak. This is especially true when the talkative one focuses all the conversation on himself or herself. Recalls a youth named Danette: “This girl in school always talked about herself. Because of her vanity, the other kids didn’t like her. They acted politely when they were around her, but they avoided her whenever possible.” Aptly, then, the Bible says: “The foolish one speaks many words.”—Ecclesiastes 10:14.
Author Dale Carnegie said: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Or as the book of Proverbs puts it: “The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.” (Proverbs 11:25) So take an interest in others, and “be swift about hearing” what others have to say. (James 1:19) Advised King Solomon: “Don’t talk so much. . . . Be sensible and turn off the flow!”—Proverbs 10:19, The Living Bible.
Do you not feel pleased when others give you an opportunity to speak about the things that interest you? So give others the pleasure of expressing themselves. They will like you for it.
Perhaps, though, the problem is how you treat others. Consider, for example, the wise guy or know-it-all—the youth who has a knack for getting under the skin of others by always being ready with a clever insult, a stinging wisecrack, or a hilarious put-down. Then there is the person who just loves to argue and foist his opinions on everyone, or the person who is “righteous overmuch,” quickly condemning anyone who does not live up to his personal standards. (Ecclesiastes 7:16) And what about the person who simply embarrasses others by being loud and boisterous? These are not people you enjoy being around, are they? Could it be, though, that others sometimes feel this way about you?
Obnoxious or outrageous behavior may provoke laughter, but it does little to promote friendship. Really, in whose company do you feel more comfortable—someone polite and respectful or someone who fancies himself a put-down artist? Recalling some youths of the latter type, young Shellie says: “On the outside we would smile at their actions, but on the inside we were resenting their lack of fellow feeling.”
The Bible’s advice, therefore, is to “keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments.” (Philippians 2:14) Needless bickering, teasing, insulting, and self-righteous condemning simply alienate others. People will like you a lot more if you show “fellow feeling” and “let your utterance be always with graciousness.”—1 Peter 3:8; Colossians 4:6.
Don’t Be a “Blank Screen”
While a person who does all the talking can be obnoxious, a person who has little or nothing to add to a conversation can be boring. Says Mark R. Leary, assistant professor of psychology: “If all I do is ask questions or say ‘uh-huh,’ no one finds out anything about me and I’m not an enjoyable partner. You don’t want to dominate the conversation, but you don’t want to be a blank screen.”
There is “a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7) So ask yourself, ‘Have I been making others feel bored and uncomfortable by clamming up when conversation starts?’ If so, make an effort to be more conversational! What you say doesn’t have to be profound, but it should be enough to show your interest in others. If coming up with interesting things to say is a problem, try asking questions. “As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it,” says the Bible.—Proverbs 25:11.
Becoming Likable to Others
Perhaps you can now see some personality flaws you need to work on. As mentioned earlier, a family member or close friend may be of help in isolating undesirable traits. Ask specific questions, and be courageous enough to listen to their honest answers. It takes real inner strength to admit a flaw and even more to correct it.
Dave, who was mentioned earlier in the article, did some soul-searching and discovered that the core of his problem was his self-centeredness. He had so lost interest in others that he even failed to care for his personal appearance and hygiene! Dave, though, made needed adjustments. Today he is well-liked and enjoys the friendship of many, both young and old.
Of course, it doesn’t pay to try to get others to like you at all costs. Explains Dr. Theodore I. Rubin: “Sadly, nobody is universally liked all the time and no affectation, pretense, or twisting oneself in a pretzel produces a bit more love. Some people like us, some don’t. In any case, most people can’t stand phony manipulations for love; nor does the manipulator like himself.” Indeed, Jesus Christ warned: “Woe, whenever all men speak well of you.” (Luke 6:26) The mere fact that you take a stand for right principles is bound to make some dislike you.—Luke 6:22.
So make reasonable efforts to be agreeable, pleasant, likable. But never compromise what is right simply to gain the approval of others. Young Samuel of Bible times took a firm stand for what is right. The result? He kept growing “more likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.” (1 Samuel 2:26) And with a little work and determination, so will you.
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People will shy away from someone who insists on doing all the talking
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People are seldom attracted to someone who has nothing to say