Respecting Likes & Dislikes

Due to some pack instinct that has quite possibly outlived its usefulness, the vast majority of us now exhibit a very strange behavioral tic: when someone says they don’t like one of our favorite things, we try to convince them that they’re wrong.

Now, I’m not talking about debating the finer points of books/movies/shows everyone in the room likes, and how one plot point that one person thinks fell flat, another person thinks was genius, etc. etc. I’m talking about how whenever someone says they don’t like chocolate, or Game of Thrones, or whatever it might be, we immediately leap in to explain to them that they are incorrect.

Often, this comes in the form of, “X for people who don’t like X” lists: Horror for people who don’t like horror, board games for people who don’t like board games, thrillers for people who don’t like thrillers.

As someone who’s been on the receiving end of far too many monologues and lists, and who has (shamefully), given some of these monologues, I have a very simple solution for all of us as we move forward: when someone tells us they don’t like something, we just say, “okay, cool.” We accept the fact that they won’t be doing said activity with us (or at all) and we move on with our life, talking about different subjects and doing different activities.

Remember the post a while back about most-hated activities and setting boundaries? This is the flip-side of that: we have to let people set boundaries, and the phrase, “I don’t like X” is a boundary.

I promise that your friendships will continue. I promise that no one is going to get thrown out of the pack and die a slow, painful, lonely death of starvation. I promise that everyone will, in fact, have a lovely life because they are doing the activities they enjoy. I promise it will all work out.

Remember: “Okay, cool.”

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