How To Win Over Someone Who Doesn't Like You

Does your co-worker scowl every time you walk by? Is that guy in your networking group consistently aloof? Sometimes, for no clear reason, someone may decide they dislike you — and if you want a more comfortable work environment, it's up to you to change the dynamic. So what can you do to disarm a cranky colleague?

Image by tovovan (Shutterstock).

In a recent podcast interview, renowned social psychologist Robert Cialdini offered two counter-intuitive suggestions:

Give Honest Compliments

It may not be easy, especially if the person has been distancing themselves from you for a while. But if you're objective, they probably have some qualities you admire. If you take a positive action and compliment them, it may well break the ice and make them re-evaluate their perceptions of you.

Ask for Advice

Cialdini notes this strategy — which involves asking for their professional advice, book suggestions and so on — comes from founding father Ben Franklin, a master of politics and relationship building. "Now you've engaged the rule of commitment and consistency," says Cialdini, in which they look at their actions (giving you advice or a book) and draw a conclusion from it (they must actually like you), a surprisingly common phenomenon in psychology. "And suddenly," says Cialdini, "you have the basis of an interaction, because now when you return it, you can return it with a book you think he or she might like."

Cialdini's advice makes you vulnerable, to a certain extent; you're explicitly making a point of deferring to someone who may not like you. But if you're ever going to change the relationship, you have to be willing to take that chance.

How have you repaired frosty relationships, or turned around someone who didn't like you?

How to Win Over Someone Who Doesn't Like You [Forbes]

Dorie Clark is the author of the forthcoming Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future. She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University and the Ford Foundation. Follow her on Twitter @dorieclark.


    Tell them they look nice and make them think they're smarter than you? I think this will just make them respect you less!

    Last edited 09/10/12 4:29 pm

      depends how well thought out your complement and questions are.

        AzTech! Jared is clearly quite an intelligent man and his point is very valid.

        Jared - have you got any book recommendations, mate?

          I wish there were some way to upvote things. Your comment is pure. Gold.

      "How to WIN OVER someone".

      Where does it mention respect?

    Fortunately I'm blessed with a smile that melts the soul and heart of those who witness it

    I've been subjected to this arse kissing, I thought it was insincere and made me less trusting. I think the best thing is to just make them aware you have differences but aren't a threat to what they want to achieve and get the grudging respect thing happening.

    Why would I want to? People will think what they will. If I worried about what people thought, I'd never leave the house. Which I wish I could do.

      I agree with you. When someone doesn't do it well, you recognize it. That's the pitfall in this approach. It needs to be sincere and you need the confidence to pull that engagement off.

      I think there are some times in life, for good reasons or no, when it's beneficial to have someone in particular like you. I guess this would come in handy in those situations.

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