The word antagonist shows up mostly when we’re talking about stories in books or movies. You know the “bad guy,” aka the archenemy to the story’s hero or protagonist.
Of course, in real life, an antagonist isn’t always dreadful – sometimes – it’s just a person who opposes your point of view. However, it can still be maddening or earth-shattering when resistance or dissent comes from people you respect or care about, like family, friends, or coworkers.
Some people thrive in debates and arguments, and others prefer to avoid conflict and find harmony in discussions. Here are five things to consider doing the next time you’re up against your very own antagonist.
1. Try to persuade.
There are countless books and resources regarding the art of persuading and communicating effectively. Many of the tips highlight the importance of finding the right time, location, and words to connect with others. I’d also suggest checking the tone around your approach to limit whining or patronizing when trying to convince another person to see your way. A goal to keep in mind could be to help the other person have their own “aha moment” versus telling them what the answer or solution should be.
2. Agree to disagree.
There are numerous ways to do something and approach life. When you hear yourself saying the word “should” to someone else, it’s a tell-tale sign that you’re imposing your beliefs. What’s right for you may not be suitable for another person and vice versa. That’s okay, and sometimes we just need to say, let’s agree to disagree, and move on if we want to respect one another and foster the relationship long-term.
3. Find a compromise.
Compromise starts with having an open mindset to find a workable solution. You could brainstorm what’s negotiable and non-negotiable and determine your thresholds for what’s going to work and not going to work. Once you lay out all of those aspects, both of you can focus on the essential elements rather than trying to change each other’s given belief or conviction.
4. Re-evaluate your point of view.
Sometimes we can get fixated on what we think is vital based on our upbringing or current environment. Take an objective look and evaluate whether or not what was critical to you is still valid. If you’re struggling to know what you think or feel, go back to what you want and value most. From there, you can decide and determine your path forward, focusing on what’s in your control and how you want to approach the next steps.
5. Walk away or say goodbye.
If nothing seems plausible for you and the other person, then it may be time to take a break. You could walk away, giving both of you time to reset and think things through, or you can part ways and say farewell. Both of these can be for the moment or a permanent decision. It’s helpful to go into the situation with compassion and understanding of how we’re all unique and can only do the best we know how to do. Sometimes you can’t just persuade another person to see or understand your position. When you’re exhausted from trying, this is the time to surrender, even if it’s just for a brief time.
How will your protagonist and antagonist story end?
Only you can decide. To help you think through your messages, download the 8 Cs of Good Communication and create a message triangle to make your points clear and concise. You can also read a previous blog post on how to communicate when things aren’t going well.