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How to cope with your enemies

YOU can't like everybody, says Anna Coogan, but here are some tips for ways to cope with your enemies

Some people just get up your nose for being too perfect or too pushy, or for being too much of a goody- two-shoes, or because you suspect they haven't your best interests at heart in spite of their friendliness. Other times there's a real good reason for the irritation.

Think long-suffering Jennifer Aniston spotting Angelina Jolie across a room. Or betrayed wife Maria Shriver running into her former housekeeper and estranged husband Arnold's mistress on the street.

It can be professional; it's reported Gwyneth Paltrow was angry when co-star Scarlett Johansson featured on the Iron Man 2 promotional poster instead of her.

In retaliation, Paltrow apparently refused to pose

with Scarlett at the film's red carpet premiere.

It's natural to want to gossip about annoying people -- not least because we crave reassurance that we are way nicer. We want to hear that they are, indeed, the most annoying creature on the planet, and considered unbearable by other people.

However, it carries the risk of losing dignity or self-respect, as a 'friend' may act as double agent and try to win favour with the 'enemy' by repeating your meanness or slander.

It's safer to stay on the moral high ground, and maintain superiority by plastering on a smile and not letting on about wanting to wring their necks.

Though it's easier said than done when a woman at the school gate raises her eyebrows at the sight of your lovely new hair cut, and says: "Don't you hate it when you get a hairdresser when she's feeling hormonal."

Or when a so-called pal says you're great for recycling clothes, while stroking her new cashmere cardigan and saying she would do likewise only her sensitive skin requires the best.

Not to mention the colleague who attacks your ideas at a meeting after you covered for them the day before when they sneaked out early.

This demands the patience of a saint -- or at least a few good tips on how to maintain a friendly aura while under fire from nitwits, divils, and sleveens.

1 Remember nobody is perfect

It demands the discipline of Buddha, yet the next time someone makes you see red, remember that there is likely to be something nice about the person.

For example, is there any chance they may have rescued a dog from the dog pound? Or are they one of the people who gives to the chuggers on the street, feeling sorry for charity collectors in the rain while you want to strategically spike them with your umbrella.

Or are they about to emigrate to the other side of the world and you'll never have to see them again?

We all have flaws and sometimes they're not so much different from those of the people we dislike. In fact, they say the people we most dislike are those who most reflect our bad bits back at us.

There is no scientific proof to support this, thank God.

2 Highlight the positive

It's recommended that we focus on the positive traits and behaviour of people we don't like. It's a bit like being asked to join a mental nunnery and fill our heads with Christian forgiveness and spiritual sweetness.

Try it the next time your noisy neighbour blasts music at 2am and instead of thinking 'I will eat your first born AND kill your mother' think 'My poor neighbour's wooden floors will be ruined by all that dancing and jumping'.

Trying it on celebrities could be easier; instead of switching over the next time you see Amy Childs looking vacuous and twiddling her hair on The Only Way is Essex, stick with the reality TV show and think "what a lovely girl for keeping an army of nail technicians in work".

And the aunt who makes snide remarks about you probably won't seem so bitchy if you can take into account that you are way smarter than your cousin, and she feels this keenly. And the pink scarf and gloves set she gives you each Christmas do keep you warm.

The flatmate who makes a mess probably won't infuriate so much when you remember that they are always a shoulder to cry on at two in the morning. While the annoying boss who sends snotty emails has a great sense of humour, or laughs at your jokes which is all that matters.

3 Be nice to them

Another recommended way to deal with people we don't like is to do something kind for them. Usually when we do something kind for others it's because we like them and want to make them happy. We have a warm feeling towards the person, and being nice to them means both we and they feel better.

It seems you can actually despise the ground a person walks on, and still benefit from doing something nice for them. Apparently doing something kind for them will make you like them more. Mental-health experts argue that this shift in feeling occurs because you begin associating a 'giving' feeling with a person you've been generous towards.

He or she is also more likely to return the favour, and you may even get something nice out of it, though, of course, this wasn't your motivation.

Being the good one has its own natural rewards, too, like feeling better and more well-adjusted and superior. You just can't help being the nicest person in the room.