How to Feel Grateful for the People You Hate (and Freebie!)


My coworker and I stared at each other dumbfounded.

We had been discussing a new project in my cubicle when my manager in the next cube gave us the shushing of a lifetime. My manager, who I’ll call Brenda, then sighed dramatically and went back to clacking away on her keyboard.

Really? Did that just happen?

My coworker rolled her eyes and gave me a look that said, “I’m so effing glad she’s not my manager,” and headed back down the hall.

I could feel my face getting hot as I turned toward my computer. It was always like that with me and Brenda. Like oil and water, our work styles didn’t mix at all.

As a 25-year-old editor, I was at the start of my career and still optimistic and peppy. Brenda was in her late 60s, and she was definitely frustrated about how much had changed in the publishing industry in such a short time.

We often fought about how things should be done, and I swear she took special pleasure in shooting down my ideas. She was the very definition of a toxic person.

For nearly a year, I had let Brenda get under my skin until I noticed a funny thing happening.

The madder I got about working with her, the worse my life became.

I started getting violently ill before work every morning, and I was having nearly daily panic attacks. The whole situation reminded me of this quote:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” The Buddha

My sickness was my fault because I had allowed my relationship with Brenda to fester inside me. But I could change all that.

So instead of stewing in my anger that day, I pulled out a notebook and made a list of all the things I appreciated about Brenda. It took a while, but I did come up with a few things including:

  • She never ate stinky food at her desk.
  • She liked to stay in her cubicle instead of glaring over my shoulder while I worked.
  • She always took her vacation days so I’d have a couple lovely days of peace and quiet every month.
  • She would most likely retire within the next year.

As I wrote my gratitude list, I could feel the anger draining out of me.

I was in control. I could choose how I wanted to feel.

Of course, I did tell HR what a beeyotch Brenda was being, and a few weeks later I was assigned a new manager. But I know practicing gratitude made a world of difference.

Want to learn how to feel grateful for the people you hate?

Download my free Thankfulness Challenge worksheet and start recognizing good things in even the most frustrating people.

Click here to download your free copy of the Thankfulness Challenge worksheet.

This is one of 7 exclusive worksheets from How to Stay Sweet in a Sour World: Your Happiness Guidebook. Isn’t it time for you to start your happiness journey?

Click to tweet: “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” Oscar Wilde via @SageGrayson1

How do you appreciate the people who drive you nuts?

In the comments below, share your tips for staying positive and grateful when people annoy you.


  1. Allison on January 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Ugh, I swear, Brenda sounds exactly like my current boss – she straight up told us that she will never give us the highest rating on our evaluations, critiques everyone in the building, and then talks openly about others’ evaluations. I’m going to have to do this, so that I can exercise some type of positive thinking towards her since it’s been breaking me down tremendously. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Lori on January 24, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I have done this once before with someone and it worked for me! The funny part though is that as soon as I wrote out why I was thankful for this person – and I was no longer allowing that person to get under my skin – they ended up having to move to another state for work and I never saw that person again!

  3. Tracy on January 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Great post. I need to remember this at work.

    Tracy @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

  4. LoveT. on January 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Great Post! Like that 🙂


  5. Lily on January 19, 2014 at 11:22 am

    It’s so difficult sometimes to let go of all the negativity, but I’m glad you’re in control now! Thank you for the inspiration

    • Sage Grayson on January 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      You’re welcome, Lily! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  6. BlessedMama on January 17, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Oh, I’ve had a few coworkers like Brenda. I like your tongue in cheek gratitude list about her. 🙂

  7. Sara on January 17, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Oh what a great idea! I don’t care for one of my managers either (he is a ding-bat), but, this is a great way to deal with it.

  8. Darcy on January 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Great idea to try to come up with good points about people. If you focus on the negatives of people you have to see every day it will make going work horrible!

  9. Emilie on January 16, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Haha I don’t work yet but what a wonderful post, I can relate 🙂 That’s actually an amazing idea to write down things, I’m going to do it right now!!! I can image in a person or two to do it for! And I’m glad it helped for you, I hope it does for me as well!! Wonderful post and I liked reading it, going to some older ones now:) xx

    • Sage Grayson on January 16, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Try it! Practicing gratitude makes even the most annoying people seem bearable. Thanks for commenting, Emilie! 🙂

  10. Mira on January 16, 2014 at 4:41 am

    You are so right and I can totally relate. I love that quote!!! The more you hate someone the worth you’ll feel. I don’t let this hatred in my heart anymore. I’m glad that you a new manager now anyway!!!


    • Sage Grayson on January 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

      It’s true–being angry at someone else just makes your life worse. It was great being assigned to a new manager, but I’m very grateful that now I’m my own boss. Thanks for commenting, Mira! 🙂

  11. Lilli on January 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Well, I agree with you and your tip is really good, need to have it in my mind if I need. Im sorry you go through horrible when u have to work with nasty people. Good luck and dont be upset! xo

    • Sage Grayson on January 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks, Lilli! I try my best to stay calm and avoid people who trigger my anger. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

  12. MaysaAndSunshine on January 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    To come up with good points on people who you dislike is not easy. Two thumbs up for you to be able to achieve that. I literally live by that Buddhist quote these days. It is so true to heart.

    • Sage Grayson on January 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Yes, it can be really difficult to think of nice things about people you dislike. But I’m learning to control my own anger and see the good in people…even the annoying ones! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  13. Jennifer Kennedy on January 15, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Great post, Sage!!

    Luckily, at this point, I don’t have too many people in my life that are getting on my nerves! A few years back, though, I had a friend who was such a drain on my energy. She was extremely negative and never took responsibility for her actions. Honestly, I never thought about finding the positive in her. I continued to be annoyed and upset until she finally moved away.

    Now, I’m working on the fact that I control my feelings and reactions to people. I really like the idea of getting that down on paper in the form of a gratitude list.!

    • Sage Grayson on January 15, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      It took me a while to figure out that I control my feelings and reactions too. Baby steps! 🙂 I write gratitude lists all the time. They help me stay calm, appreciate what I have, and even plan for what I want in the future (aspiration writing).

  14. Nicky on January 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Great post my dear!

    • Sage Grayson on January 15, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks, Nicky! 🙂

  15. Leeann @ Join the Gossip on January 15, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I totally need to do this! I get so stressed about work that I get severe headaches. The cause of this stress is ME. Nevermind the things that make me frustrated, I need to do a better job of letting go.

    Great post!

    • Sage Grayson on January 15, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Thanks for commenting, Leeann! I know it’s kind of a bummer that we’re the cause of our own unhappiness. What, I can’t blame someone else??? 🙂 But in the end, it’s empowering because WE have the power to change the situation from within ourselves.

  16. Allie Mackin on January 15, 2014 at 10:32 am

    So funny when I read the first few sentences I thought you worked in a call center, which I have done and THAT is much worse then working as an editor. But I kept reading and chuckled I work at magazine but not as an editor but as a graphic designer which is worse, less jobs and a ton of people to answer to, all with different opinions. But what you say is so true, it has changed so much and there is ALOT of disgruntledness–ok I know not a word.

    And also so true about letting anger go, not the easiest thing to pull off. Great post.

    Allie of ALLIE NYC

    • Sage Grayson on January 15, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Yes, if I had been in a call center, I would have understood! But we were actually talking about work…so it was just weird. I loved being an editor, but I’m grateful to be working from home on my own business now. Office environments can have so much drama!

  17. Cat Eyes & Skinny Jeans on January 15, 2014 at 6:02 am

    Fantastic tips! Toxic people can definitely be the ruination of your day {or life depending on how often you encounter them}.


    • Sage Grayson on January 15, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Totally! I try to avoid toxic people and Negative Nancys as much as possible.

  18. Sarah @ Long Island Nerd on January 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    OMG yes yes yes!!! Once again you are in my head! ALthough I’ve let this person suck the life out of me for 6 years. I am so excited for this worksheet because I think it will help as my animosity has been building to new levels lately. And I agree, it is my fault for letting this person have this power over me, my emotions and how I feel about myself. I’m looking forward to doing this exercise because it may just be exactly what I need to move forward and leave the anger behind.

    • Sage Grayson on January 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Sarah, it’s true…I AM in your head!!! Mwahahahaha!!! 🙂

      I know way too many people who let themselves get bullied by coworkers and even family members. But if you can’t avoid the person, practicing gratitude can shift the energy so that their negativity won’t affect you anymore. I’ve seen it work in my life many times.