Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? – Abraham Lincoln
What does that mean?
This is an interesting take on beating, defeating, or even destroying enemies. Such dealings with enemies usually come from a position of violence, and that is the normal thought process for dealing with those we label as enemies.
However, this quote talks about doing something different to them. It suggests that we befriend them instead. In doing so, it causes them to cease being your enemy, as one rarely has a friendly enemy. That would be a bit of a contradiction, for someone to be both at the same time.
Yes, there is a new term ‘frienemy,’ but that is more for a rival or a love/hate relationship, and not really the subject of this quote. Instead, if we can change the status of an enemy to that of friend, we have managed a win-win situation, as the war is over, and we are now friends. To me, that is a notable achievement.
Why is understanding people important?
How do you make an enemy into a friend, if you do not understand them? To win them over, or at least gain their confidence, you have to have some understanding of why you are enemies in the first place, right? Without that first level of understanding, you’re not going to get far.
Then, to be able to put forth arguments they will listen to, ones with which they might even agree, you have to understand them and what they want, need, or desire. You have to understand what their motivations are if you are to move them away from enemy and towards friend.
In each step along the path, you need to understand them if you are going to influence them. You might even find a place in your thinking where you have unintentionally given offense, and you might be able to do something to help. But you won’t know until you understand them.
Where can I apply this in my life?
There are always going to be people with whom we don’t get along with, right? But rather than start with the guy who promised to beat you into a pulp if he ever saw you again, we might want to start with someone with whom we are angry (or vice-versa).
By starting with someone with whom we are already friendly, but just in the midst of a minor tiff or disagreement will allow us to practice, hone our skills, and get better at listening to the other person. If you can’t listen, how will you ever understand?
One time, many years ago, I was on the phone with someone I hadn’t met, but with whom I needed to schedule a meeting. After introducing myself, I started by stating what days and times I wasn’t available. I hadn’t gone very far when she began to get a bit angry and telling me what I was going to do.
It didn’t take a genius to understand that there had been a misunderstanding, so I quickly asked her to pause for a moment, and I apologized for whatever it was I said which set her off. I then started over and introduced myself and stated why I was calling and let her speak.
The situation initially became adversarial very quickly. I wouldn’t say we were rapidly becoming enemies, but we sure weren’t being very friendly. By listening to what she was saying, and realizing she had misunderstood, I was able to back things down a bit, and get the conversation back on friendly terms.
Where in your life is there someone you like, but with whom you might not presently be on the best of terms? Perhaps you have more than one? What are your thoughts on why there is presently a disagreement between you and them? No, saying because they are being a jerk isn’t sufficient.
Now take a moment and pick the one you want to try to patch up first. What is the point of contention between the two of you? If you aren’t sure, that would be a perfect opportunity to talk to them, and really listen to what they have to say, and their feelings.
The point isn’t to use the time when they are talking to line up your rebuttals, but to try to understand them. In my experience, most of the time when you get a really strong reaction from the other person, they are reacting to what they thought you said or meant, not what you intended.
If you can find out what they think you did or meant, you can then try to reassure them that it wasn’t what it seemed. In this manner, you can try to convert them from being angry or upset at you to being your friend again. And it is excellent practice for some of the tougher tasks ahead of you.
Who is first on your list, and who else would be on your list if you were sure you could bring them around? Make that list and get started, unless you are resting your hopes on them reading this post and starting first. 8)
From: Twitter, @TheQuoteToday
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/abrahamlin103475.html
Photo by Ken Wilcox.
Happy Birthday to The Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, born 12 February, 1809.