Okay, I’m sure someone will say, or at least think, “I don’t have any enemies”. I’m a good person, kind, generous, thoughtful, and caring so why would I have enemies? Well, I am not suggesting that you deserve to have enemies, but you probably do anyway. They come in three types.
First is the passive enemy. This is the person that you don’t know about and therefore probably the most dangerous. Why is this person your enemy? Well, he/she is driven by envy, jealousy, and perhaps just a general dislike. This person is nice enough to your face, but you can never be sure when this enemy will become more active by talking about you behind your back, making snide comments or displaying ugly body language when someone refers to your looks, dress code, successes, or nice family. In short, a hypocrite.
Then there is the active enemy. The one that is contentious any time you interact with him/her be it in your personal life or at the workplace. Argumentative, nasty, and always looking to put you down or make you look bad. Always ready with a nasty come-back or a leading comment to enrage you. It sometimes happens that this person apologizes and then simply reverts to being a passive enemy.
Then there is the rare enemy that actually becomes violent. This enemy may attack you or someone you care about with physical or psychological abuse. The bully at school. The neighbor that shoots your dog, or the fellow worker that brings a gun to work to do you and others harm. There is no limit to what this enemy is capable of from taking a swing at you, to setting your house on fire. Extreme you say? Of course, but I have had these enemies on several occasions so don’t assume you will never be faced with the problem.
So, how do you deal with an enemy? Well in the latter case you may be forced to take legal action which can take any one of several forms. But, since this is the rarer of the three types we will focus on the other two groups.
Logic and common sense would dictate that once the enemy is identified, you sit down and talk to the person. You try to determine the cause of the dislike, what you may have done to exacerbate the problem and what you can both do to get things on a better footing. Will that course of action work? Maybe, maybe not, but worth a try. The downside, of course, is that it doesn’t work and the enemy simply goes underground and becomes a very active “passive” enemy.
The worst thing you can do is to get down in the gutter with the enemy and trade insult for insult. Duke it out verbally. This does nothing to solve the problem and may, in fact, make it worse. It may also cause some to think your enemy is right and you really are a jerk.
You may find it desirable to simply remove yourself from the venue where the problem exists. Find a different job or a different neighborhood. That isn’t always a practical solution of course and sometimes simply isn’t an option at all, particularly if the enemy is family.
Then there is the option I recommend. Simply outlive your enemies. (smile)
How have you successfully dealt with enemies?