Every person has antagonists in their life. They seem to stand as a roadblock to progress. Some seem mean-spirited. Others are just object able. Still others just don’t “mesh” with us, either due to personality, outlook, or background.

Most of the time, we avoid our antagonists. After all, who wants to spend time with people they really cannot stand!. But life throws you together. (Understand, I don’t enjoy the encounter either!)

Someone once observed, “I can learn something  from everyone I meet.” What could you learn from your antagonist? The lessons are many.

You can learn from their bad example.

Many times you watch the eruption and say, “not me.” Bad behavior, as well as good behavior, is a great model. Do you act like your nemesis acts? Do you shout? Scream? Accuse? Whatever revolts you, banish it from your life.

You can learn from their complaints.

The problem with critics is they hide the nugget truth in a heap of garbage. Sometimes, the critic is right. They point out flaws we don’t see. The pointed barb shoved in the heart makes us stand up and see what we have avoided seeing. Some of the best lessons of life I have had to clean out an emotional sewer to discover.

How do you get the lesson?

Pay careful attention. When attacked, we all tend to either withdraw or explode. Neither lets the mind sift each statement. Get quiet. Think carefully. Slow responses so the heat dissipates.

Stay objective. Suppose you put yourself in the corner of the room and witness the event. What would you see? What would you hear? This is the only way to sift the wheat from the chaff and find what may be true.

Try to step into their perspective. What’s bugging this person. I heard once “hurting people hurt people.” Cut some slack. Figure out a way to make excuses for the person. If you can, you will be the better person in the confrontation.

People who enjoy conflict are either sick or less than truthful. Those who endure it, however, can come out wiser if they learn from the encounter.