Illuminated sign that says "I hate nothing about u" with a lit up heart symbol

It’s hard to hate up close

A version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter several weeks ago. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.

A mentor of mine said in a meeting recently: it’s hard to hate up close.

It’s really not in our nature, she said. Distance (including the anonymity of the web and the imprecision of written communication) is so often involved in conflict, both big and small. So the message is whenever you’re in conflict, you need to get as close to the source of that conflict as you can.

When I find myself developing some petty frustration with someone, including some loud-mouthed entrepreneur or another potential collaborator, I question if this is someone worth finding a way to get closer to.

Sometimes that person isn’t. They’ve hurt you too raw to do anything constructively, or you think the sin isn’t worth redemption or for some other reason distance is best. But in most circumstances when I face friction or worse, though the timeline may be varied, I resolve to eventually getting up really close to whomever is the hottest center of that fire. We talk about the details or don’t. But the basic premise is to get back to basics.

This came to mind as I spent the day in snowy Frankfurt, packing many outstanding to dos I had into one faceless, weather-controlled, day-long layover. I spend the wintry months each year looking back at the year past and forward to the year coming. (Yes, resolutions.)

I’ve done much to smolder frustrations I’ve had with people. Rarely do any of us accurately portray how much or why someone hurt or wronged or frustrated us. We can dig in to try to influence that person’s behavior in the future, or accept it as something we’ve learned and change our own behavior for the future. The latter is easier than the former. Both require getting up real close. You’ll be amazed by how much the hate dissipates.

The above photo from DESIGNECOLOGIST via Unsplash.

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