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“Get comfortable with conflict” is one of the worst bits of advice anyone can receive.

Conflict sucks.

It causes our stress responses to kick in spewing all sorts of unhealthy body chemicals which makes us act like fools.

Instead of getting comfortable with conflict, eliminate it. I’m not suggesting you have that annoying customer or cousin eliminated; I mean think of the conflict between you and the other as conversation that you can control rather than conflict or objections you have to overcome.

I earned two yellow belts in the martial art of Aikido (which in my dojo meant nothing…. you HAD to earn two yellows before you could move to a real color).

What Aikido teaches is not to strike back, or even try to win. Instead, we practice stepping back and blending energy so the energy of our partner (yes, even as they came at us, we had to think of them as partners) could create no harm to either of us.

Successful negotiations begin with the same attitude. The goal is not to “overcome objections.”
It’s not to win the negotiation at the expense of the other.
The goal is to step back to be able to step side by side toward the best possible outcome for both.

Don’t ever get comfortable with conflict.

Much better:
Get comfortable having conversations (email too) that help the other person feel safe and smart.
Gain comfort listening for points of agreement.
Be at ease negotiating from a place of creating connection and success for both, rather than winning.

In Aikido practice, before striking at my partner, I’d first have to bow to him or her. That bow/pause prepared me not for conflict, but for conversation.

What words will you use to show care and enable a productive business conversation?

Before you go…

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