Having an enemy can be infuriating. When there’s a not-so-special someone in your life who knows exactly how to push all your hot buttons, you might be tempted look for ways to fight back or get revenge. But the best way to defeat them is to be the bigger person—and not give them the satisfaction of getting to you. In this article, we’ll talk you through a few of the best ways to deal with your enemy without stooping to their level.
Method 1 of 9: Stay calm.
Don’t let your enemy see you upset. The main thing a bully wants is to get a reaction from their target. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Next time your enemy starts trying to push your buttons, take a few deep breaths, count to 10 backwards, or do whatever it takes to help you find your peaceful place.
- It’s totally natural to get angry or upset when someone is mistreating you. The trick is not to show it. If you feel like you’re about to lose your cool, calmly excuse yourself or just walk away, then let your feelings out when they’re not around to see it.
- If you’re dealing with a rival in a work or business setting, keep your cool and stay professional. Ultimately, you’ll come out looking (and feeling) a lot better than they will.
Method 2 of 9: Tell them to back off.
But do it in a civil, unemotional way. You probably grew up hearing that you should ignore bullies. But looking the other way when someone is mistreating you seldom works—instead, it just gives them the idea that it’s okay to keep acting that way. Instead, confront them about their behavior and calmly tell them that you won’t stand for it.
- In his famous treatise The Art of War, the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu said, “When I wish to avoid battle, I may defend myself simply by drawing a line on the ground.” Keep it simple and let your enemy know where your boundaries are. Say something like, “That’s not acceptable,” or “Don’t talk to me that way.”
- Avoid using emotional language or saying anything that makes them feel like they’ve gotten the reaction they’re looking for. For instance, don’t say something like, “You’re ruining my life,” or “You make me so angry!”
- If they’re lying about you to someone else, calmly correct them and back it up with evidence. For instance, if a coworker tries to pin the blame on you for a project falling apart, say something like, “Actually, that’s not true. I filed my forms on time. Here’s my email with the timestamps on it.”
Method 3 of 9: Look them in the eye.
This sneaky psychological tactic can be very disarming. Next time your enemy tries to push you around, do your best to make and hold eye contact. It makes you look more confident, which might be enough to throw them off their stride. Plus, they’ll be forced to really see you—and maybe think twice about being so unkind.
- Looking them in the eyes and laughing or smiling can be especially effective. If they’re trying to get you upset, that’s not the reaction they’ll be expecting!
Method 4 of 9: Team up with some trusted allies.
Dealing with an enemy alone can be really difficult. As Sun Tzu famously pointed out, you’re much more likely to defeat an opponent if you outnumber them. Talk to some other people you trust about what’s going on, whether they’re family members, friends, or people in your professional support network. If your enemy sees that you have a bunch of other people in your corner, they’re more likely to back down and leave you alone.
- For example, if someone’s being nasty to you at school or work, see if you can band together with other people who’ve had trouble with the same person. You could confront them as a group or go together to report their behavior to someone in charge.
- If your enemy is a bully, they’ll want you to feel powerless and isolated. Teaming up with others is a great way to undermine that goal!
Method 5 of 9: Document and report any bullying.
Don’t let them get away with abusive behavior. If you can prove that your rival has been harassing, bullying, or lying about you, use that against them. Next time they try to pull something, write it down. If they harass you over text or email, keep a copy or snag a screenshot. If there are witnesses, even better! Ask them to back you up. If possible, report their behavior to somebody who can do something about it—and show them the evidence.
- For example, if you’re dealing with a workplace bully, document their behavior and report it to your boss or HR. At school, you can go to your teacher or the principal.
- If you think your enemy is doing something illegal or unethical, report them to the appropriate authorities, whether that’s the police, their supervisor, or a professional organization they belong to. But don’t do this lightly! Be ready to show evidence to back up your accusations.
Method 6 of 9: Avoid engaging when they attack.
Sometimes, all you have to do is sit back and wait. Is your enemy posting nasty things about you online? Are they being unprofessional, picking fights, or constantly breaking the rules? If so, let their actions speak for themselves instead of trying to directly respond or engage. There’s a good chance that they’ll eventually face the natural consequences of their actions.
- For example, if an angry ex is saying nasty things about you on Facebook, don’t respond directly to their posts. Just quietly block them (and unfriend them, if you haven’t already). If you have to, you can always address anything false that they said about you in your own post.
- Stepping away from the situation can also give you a chance to calm down and think of the best approach to take. If you try to react to their behavior while you’re still upset, it could just end up making things worse.
- Of course, if they’re doing something overtly harmful, such as threatening or hurting you or someone else, it’s a good idea to report their behavior. But try not to engage with them directly.
Method 7 of 9: Build yourself up instead of bringing them down.
Disappoint them by being the bigger person. When you lash out at your enemies, it shows that they’ve gotten to you—which means they’ve won. On the other hand, a true enemy will hate to see you happy and successful, which means that living your best life is the best way to defeat them! A few ways you can do this include:
- Focusing on self-care. Do things that you find enjoyable, relaxing, and fulfilling.
- Spending more time with friends and other people who lift you up instead of bringing you down.
- Making a list of your strengths and positive qualities.
- Repeating an empowering mantra to yourself (e.g., “I am fierce. I am powerful. I am unstoppable.”).
Method 8 of 9: Look for the positive side of the situation.
Sometimes an attitude adjustment is the best defense. Try looking at your hater from a new perspective. For example, is this someone you really want on your side? If not, try to take some satisfaction in knowing that they consider you an enemy—and use their hate to fuel your own success.
- Maybe they’re always trying to undermine your confidence by telling you that you can’t succeed at something. Turn that around on them by working even harder to achieve your goal. Your victory will be extra sweet!
- You can also look at their behavior as a learning opportunity. For instance, if they’re always picking on other people, use that as a guide for now not to behave.
Method 9 of 9: Determine if they’re really your enemy.
Be careful about making assumptions. Stop and ask yourself why you think of this person as your enemy. Do you really know what’s motivating them to behave the way they do? If you’re not sure, avoid making guesses or trying to get inside their head. It’s possible that they don’t even realize what kind of effect their behavior is having on you. Ask yourself things like:
- If they criticize me, is the criticism constructive or destructive?
- Do they apologize or try to change their behavior when I tell them I don’t like what they’re doing, or do they minimize my feelings and continue doing it?
- Are they actively doing anything to try to harm me, or do they just seem to dislike me?
- Remember, someone who’s not your friend or who doesn’t agree with you isn’t necessarily an enemy! It’s okay for people to disagree or dislike each other—it only becomes a problem if they’re actually trying to hurt you in some way.