Making Friends Sure Beats Making Enemies

I heard a story about a situation where someone was refused career advancement because she had made an enemy a long time ago.


It made me think. Why do we make enemies? Is it because we don’t really know how to make friends? In Agile Work, where communication, collaboration, teamwork and truthfulness are so important, making enemies is the worst thing a person can do. (It might not be such a big problem in mechanistic environments.)

The golden rule is a good starting place for learning how to make friends. Esther derby has a great course on teamwork that could help. An of course there’s the old classic: How to Win Friends & Influence People which really is very good (if a little dated). If anyone knows some other good books or resources about learning to make friends, please reply in the comments!


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2 thoughts on “Making Friends Sure Beats Making Enemies”

  1. I’d like to look a little more closely at the question “why?” before going more into the question “how?”. Not just “why should we make friends?”, but “why does friendship exist?”, or even “what is friendship?” Let’s consider the “Golden Rule”. Essentially, this is the universal commandment of friendship. Every major religion of the world possesses the law of friendship that basically goes something like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That particular phrasing is the most familiar to westerners as it is more or less the wording of the New Testament. Nonetheless, the principle of the Law of Friendship is universal. Basically, treat others at least as well as you wish to be treated, preferably even better.

    When we think of religious laws, in our hyper-individualistic society, we usually think of constraints, or even dogmatic, arbitrary abuses of power, even tyrannical repression of individual rights and freedoms. These notions are founded on real experience – abuses of power committed by agencies of authority – examples of which have unfortunately occurred throughout the course of human history, and are too numerous to mention here.

    However, if we think of spiritual laws in the same way we think of physical laws, their importance becomes much more clear. For example, it is a physical law that people need to eat food in order to survive. Food is good for our physical health. It gives us energy to do things.

    The law of friendship is very similar. People are social beings. We do not get much done as isolated individuals. We need to work together to build families, communities and institutions. When the law of friendship is respected, things get done well.

    Let’s look at the question now of “how?”. In the Baha’i writings it is stated: “Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who cross your path.”

    What is this telling us? First of all, friendship is a natural outcome of an internal condition – the quality of kindness. It’s interesting that the word “Let” is used in this sentence, as though this is a natural condition. Furthermore, we can think of the word “burn”. What happens when things burn? Certainly, everyone can agree that this is not meant to be taken literally. Therefore, it is not necessary to consider this in terms of physical pain caused by physical burning. So, what happens, for example, when a candle burns? Clearly, it produces light. Let’s say then that when our heart burns with loving kindness, it sheds light on how we are to engage in friendly relationships.

    But let’s go back now to the concept of pain. When we love, we are willing to sacrifice. Sacrifice can be defined as the giving up of something of lesser value for something of higher value.

    So, for example, when an organization begins to make its first attempts to become Agile, it is sacrificing the way it was doing things (lesser value) for a more agile way of doing things (higher value). This example can be described as a transformation. In nature, we have similar examples – say, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The difference between the world of nature and human beings, for the most part, is that states of nature transform without a sense of loss. The caterpillar does not resist metamorphosis, it just does it.

    People resist change because it entails pain. Ironically, most of the pain is caused by the resistance itself. If we were fully pre-cognizant of the higher value resulting from sacrifice, it would not feel like a sacrifice at all. And indeed, hindsight is often that kind of experience; once we’re on the other side of it we are often mystified by our fear of and resistance to change in the first place. This in and of itself is evidence of transformation. We no longer have the prejudices towards change that we once had. We have transformed and undoubtedly attained a condition of higher value.

    So, what does this all have to do with friendship? In short, everything. We begin our human lives as very selfish little creatures, unaware and unappreciative of the fact that perfect conditions for our care and nurturing have been fully provided for us before we even appear in this world. As we grow and develop, we begin to understand the significance of relationships and as a result, we learn to sacrifice the conditions of dependency and selfishness (lower value) for cooperation and friendship (higher value).

    This sacrifice often entails pain. Think even of a natural process, such as the growth of teeth in our mouths. While we are teething, there is discomfort, we don’t like it. but once we learn how to use our teeth, we also learn to care for them and even treasure them because they become such an essential tool in our daily lives. Actually, we come to depend on our teeth in order to obey the physical law of eating.

    Sacrifice may not always be so straightforward. Often, we have to make conscious decisions that require a great deal of thought about opportunities to make sacrifices. But that’s part of what makes human beings so potentially powerful. History has clearly shown us the degree of profound transformation human beings are potentially capable of. On a spiritual/social level, we can think of our hearts burning with loving kindness in order to obey the law of friendship in this kind of way.

    Let’s think for a moment what the world might be like without friendship. Imagine, for example, what your life would be like if you didn’t have any friends and never did. What would the world be like if no two people had ever been friends? Would it even be possible for us to exist? Certainly there would be serious consequences. Likewise, there would be certain consequences if people stopped eating. Therefore, it is only reasonable to expect that the consequences of violating the law of friendship are of considerable severity.

    Certainly, we can think of many examples of such consequences.

    Certainly, we can also think of many examples of the rewards of upholding the law of friendship.

  2. You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the article you
    write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid
    to mention how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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