What Compelling Attitude Can Turn a Foe into a Friend?

What do you do when someone opposes you and talks bad about you? If you’ve ever wondered how to handle this kind of situation, read on for one approach that may work for you.

Most of the time, you will read on this blog ways to confront someone in effective ways to talk things out. Sometimes confrontation is not always possible, safe or effective in a relationship. When a person opposes you, if you can’t talk things out, there is another persuasive force which can turn a situation around in your favor.

A number of years ago, I worked with a woman in a business situation. To protect identities, I’ll call her Tina.* Thrown into the job without any formal training, I found it to be a steep learning curve. As is normal when you are learning, I made many mistakes. I have the attitude of wanting to learn from my mistakes but some people are not that patient with the learning process.

Tina* had been there a while and when I asked questions, she answered with an air of superiority or in brisk words. One day I headed for the lunch room, I  paused and before I rounded the corner, I heard her critical words about me as she spouted off to someone. What she said was untrue but it still hurt.

I couldn’t confront her because then she would know and the work situation was not conducive to open discussion.

We had to work together in the same department and the tension between us bothered me. One day, in my Bible reading, I remembered the power of goodness. A strategy formulated in my mind. I started asking her about herself and used my listening skills to give her the gift of listening. When her birthday came, I made sure to find a gift she would like. When she went through a difficult time with her teenage son, I listened and empathized with her. When her business skills earned my admiration, I made sure to compliment her.

Little by little, the relationship turned around. She began to be more patient and understanding with me and took an interest in my sharing as well. After I left the work situation, whenever we ran into each other, we’d give each other a hug and exchange family news.

This strategy has worked for me in many other situations. There is one warning though. Be careful not to be manipulative with it. People can sense it, be suspicious and resist it.

There does need to be genuine effort to care about the person and a desire to move toward reconciliation. It may not work in every case but in more cases than not with persistent effort to do good, you will achieve your desired results of turning a foe into a friend.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 (NIV)




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