Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to Get Along With an Enemy

We always want to avoid making enemies, but it will certainly happen. It may be the opposite of what you would want to do, but the first step to try to turn enemies into friends is to get to know the person better. As Abraham Lincoln said, “I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.” Getting to know them will enable you to learn about most of his or her strengths and weaknesses. Knowing that will help you understand them and get along. You might even figure out what you did (if you did really do something) to them. Then you can apologize to them and this will hopefully turn your enemy into your friend.

Now what if that doesn’t work because they just don’t seem to like you for whatever reason, you must now learn how to get along with them. To do this, you must first ignore their comments. Now I don’t mean that you should blow them off like “who cares about them” because that’s just what they would do to you. No, you must not react to their comments in a negative way. Don’t make their problem your problem. The next step is to not say anything about what he or she does. Don’t be critical of them. Don’t make negative comments. Otherwise, again, you are doing exactly what they are doing. You must ignore the urge to get back at them or the desire to embarrass them. Finally, you must always remember to be nice to them even if they are being a jerk to you. If you do this you will be setting an example. Hopefully they will follow your example.

The people we don’t like are usually the people we don’t know or seem to be not like us. We don’t usually like people that are different from us. The solution is to get to know others even if they are different and be nice to everyone we see.
Will Rogers, speaking of Leon Trosky, said, “I bet you if I had met him and had a chat with him, I would have found him a very interesting and human fellow, for I never yet met a man that I didn't like.” Get to know people. You’ll be surprised how much you might like them.


  1. I agree it is much more difficult, but not impossible, to dislike people that you know. Most people are not "against" others, but they send messages that are received that way. The tension disappears when we understand them enough to know that we are mis-reading their signals.

    It takes a lot of courage try to understand others and learn from them, but we all wish people would try to understand us. Thanks for the reminder that we need to treat them the way we wish they'd treat us.

  2. Thank you Mr. Henry for taking the time to comment on my blog! That’s a good point you made about how important it is to treat others the way you want to be treated.

  3. Mark, thank you for such a GREAT post! As I read your words, I was struck by the notion the term, enemy, is often a label we affix; it may exist only to the extent we allow it to exist. An enemy is nothing like a bad hair day. We wake up with bad hair, even if we wish it wasn’t so. The only way to wake up with enemies, it seems to me, is to refuse to accept them as friends. We are not confined, after all, to THEIR definition of the relationship. There’s a Native American tradition, Navajo I believe, that says, “I have been to the end of the earth and I have found none that are not my friends.” Isn’t that amazing!? We see the same thing in nature, Mark. Ever notice how a small birch grows under the protection of large pines? Both species desperately need sunlight to survive, yet both are willing to share the same space by celebrating their diversity. They ‘see’ each other as friends, not adversaries. The message for us, the same message you are wonderfully expressing in your post, is a one of love. Martin Luther King, Jr., put it this way, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." Leaders lead because others have chosen to follow. It’s not likely an ‘enemy’ will ever choose to follow. A true leader, therefore, clearly understands they cannot effectively lead until they first learn how to love.