You’re going out of your way to be nice, but you keep hitting a brick wall.
I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in situations where no matter what you do, you seem to get the cold shoulder from someone.
Other than grit your teeth and try to grin and bear it, what else can you do?
This article will offer some practical ways to stay warm around cold people.
So let’s dive in.
1) Don’t take it personally
Staying warm towards cold people, rather ironically, involves you keeping your cool.
In order to do so, you can’t take it personally.
It’s so easy for us to jump to conclusions and assume we’re the problem when someone acts a bit strangely around us.
To a certain extent, it’s good that you might question your behavior.
That means you a) care and b) have the power of self-reflection.
But you should never absorb someone else’s energy and start to take responsibility for it.
That’s down to them.
The reality is that nothing is ever really personal, even when it feels like it.
Whilst it’s tempting to get upset by the words or actions of someone when it’s directed at you, it’s important to remember it always says more about them than you.
Think about it:
Ever noticed how it’s easier to let things slide when you’re in a good mood? But when you’re in a bad mood you are liable to snap at the littlest thing.
Everybody is actually just going around all the time reflecting what’s already inside of them onto everybody else.
Or, in the words of Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements:
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
When you learn not to take someone’s behavior towards you personally, it becomes water off a duck’s back.
2) Approach the person and the situation with compassion
Let’s face it, even the most saintly of people have most likely been a bit of a jerk at some point or another.
It helps to try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, before taking the moral high ground.
Then you can start to see someone else’s side.
Because the truth is that you never know what is going on with someone else.
They could be having a really hard time right now. They may be struggling emotionally, or with their mental health.
What you are interpreting as coldness from them could be defensiveness.
They may be feeling threatened and so instinctively put their barriers up in order to protect themselves.
They may be acting a bit distant simply because they have a lot going on.
When we choose kindness and compassion it helps us to keep our hearts open. And that is always going to help when you’re dealing with difficult people.
3) Make yourself as zen as possible
Ok, so you’ve decided to not take it personally. And you’re mustering up as much kindness and compassion as you can.
But who are we kidding, it’s not easy to do.
Because all the normal human flaws and failings that make others behave unreasonably, exist in us too.
Just like an athlete prepares for a big race by doing the necessary training, the same can be said for staying calm.
It doesn’t all happen on the spot. The preparation you put in will make a difference.
If you’re already feeling stressed and anxious it stands to reason you’ll struggle to stay warm around cold people.
Those frustrations are more likely to come spilling out. But if you actively do things to be as zen as possible, you’ll find it easier.
Because these are the practical tools that will make all the difference. I’m talking about those tried and tested methods like:
Techniques like this help boost your mood, reduce your stress levels and help keep you more resilient when it comes to life’s little annoyances (including people!).
4) Show vulnerability
Sometimes when an animal is faced with aggression it will naturally show certain types of so-called appeasement behaviors.
They’re designed to avoid injury by a dominant member of its own species by purposefully showing softness.
It’s things like averting gaze, crouching down low, or sniffing the ground.
I’m not suggesting you do that exactly, that would be weird.
But what I’m getting at here is that vulnerability can be a strategic move.
When you show your vulnerable side what you’re actually doing is saying “Hey, don’t worry, I’m not a threat”.
Meeting fire with fire tends to create conflict.
Instead, you need something that could break the stalemate and get them to warm up. And showing your vulnerability leads by example.
Research proves that even though we often find vulnerability hard to do ourselves, we admire and appreciate it in others.
It’s far from being a weakness, it’s a real strength. In fact, creating a deeper connection with someone is almost impossible without it.
As therapist Sarah Epstein explains, vulnerability can help put people at ease and can relieve tension in relationships:
“When we can respond to something hurtful with vulnerability rather than rage, we allow the other person to see their impact without making them defensive”.
5) Practice patience
I’ll confess, I am not a very patient person.
I really wish I was, but let’s just say it’s a virtue I’m still striving for.
And there’s no denying it’s a pretty darn useful one too. Because sadly, life has a habit of not working out the way we’d like.
We get stuck behind a slow-moving truck when we’re late for work. A friend keeps us waiting when we’re meeting them for lunch. Or you have to explain something to someone for, what feels like, the millionth time.
There are plenty of occasions on the daily that are going to be out of our control and test our patience.
Getting a cold response from someone you are trying your very best to be nice to is one of these occasions.
But having more patience helps you to accept setbacks, teaches you to regulate your emotions, and better deal with stress.
So it’s easy to see why that can help you to stay warm towards people in challenging scenarios.
Practical ways to improve your patience involve:
- Trying to focus on what you can control and learning to accept what you cannot
- Taking a time out when you feel yourself getting stressed
- Trying to be more optimistic and grateful to improve your mood and outlook
- Eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep so you’re feeling physically on top form
6) Be clear on your boundaries
The problem is that whilst nice is great, it doesn’t always carry respect.
You can be kind to others but you still need to have boundaries.
That is doubly true for the frosty people who seem to pay your feelings very little attention.
At the end of the day, we need to protect ourselves from other people’s negativity. That’s exactly what boundaries do.
Being warm around cold people is admirable. But that doesn’t mean you should let them walk all over you.
It’s not always easy, but as psychotherapist Dr. Tracy Hutchinson points out, clear boundaries are essential:
“Setting boundaries takes practice. It involves deciding what behavior is okay and what is not and how to respond if someone passes your comfort and limits. Setting boundaries can ensure that relationships can be mutually respectful, appropriate, and caring.”
If you feel like someone is taking advantage of your warmth it can be a good idea to check in on your boundaries.
7) Shower yourself with love
The nicest people often like themselves the most.
They can handle people’s bad moods or snappy demeanors because they aren’t reliant on others for their own self-esteem.
Think about it:
The more you rely on the whim of how others behave towards you in order to feel good, the more you’re bound to be disappointed.
It helps you to find out what you need to be happy and it puts the onus on you to deliver it to yourself.
Self-love is the ultimate in personal power really.
Having love, respect, and compassion for yourself saves you from toxic relationships. It gives you the strength to walk away when you’re not being treated right.
It also gives you the strength to shrug things off rather than take them to heart when someone is cold toward you.
Self-love is the firm foundation that will help you to approach others with the same care and kindness.
8) Know when to distance yourself
Let’s face it, it’s easier to stay warm to cold people if it’s not for long.
That’s why the last practical tip on our list is to know your limits.
Human relationships should never feel like an endurance test. We all need to know when to cut our losses and move on.
It’s an important part of self-preservation.
Many years ago I worked with a woman who was constantly frosty. I tried everything I could think of to get her to like me.
Nothing worked. She seemed to be warm and friendly with others, just not me. I couldn’t work out why.
Until one day I realized it was not my job to make her feel any particular way.
So instead, I decided to be polite and stay civil, but at the same time, stop trying so hard. It was a much better tactic it seemed.
Not only did I protect myself from her coldness by creating some distance. But actually, as soon as I stopped trying so hard, she seemed to warm up (ever so slightly) to me too.
My point is when all else fails, sometimes retreat is the best thing you can do in order to minimize the impact that person has on your life.