Conflicts are inevitable, and always come from a perceived need.
Many casual conflicts in polite company require tactfully sidestepping the problem.
Directly manage rumors before they become gossip.
Mix your confrontations with frequent praise.
Direct the flow of information to safely handle communication issues.
Say “no” politely with your actions.
There are a variety of conflict attitudes, which all have their time and place.
Disagree carefully with others.
Note others’ subversive tactics and try to avoid using them.
Detect when a conflict has become crucial, and note the power dynamics.
Expertly handle negotiations:
- Attack the problem, not the person.
- Agree on a date.
- Clarify expectations first.
- Insist on objective criteria.
- Brainstorm a mutually beneficial solution.
- Sell the best decision.
- Later, check back on the solution.
Only make conflicts for the right purposes.
What are conflicts?
Conflict is an inevitable part of being human:
Conflicts are not always fighting with others, but can be:
- Fights and arguments arise when people see that it’s the best way to accomplish their purposes.
- Sometimes, it’s simply a disagreement or misunderstanding.
- While respect for others is always appropriate, being “nice” and overly accommodating in a time of conflict will destroy you and those you care about.
Most conflicts come from people trying to gain a perceived need:
- Their need may or may not be real or accurate, and may simply be a “want”.
- You often have a massive advantage if you’re aware of what you and others want and need.
- When you stand to gain for yourself or for another person, the skills are exactly the same.
Conflict, used correctly, benefits everyone involved:
- If you ask for what you want correctly, you can usually get it.
- When driven by love, conflicts drive each person to understand each other more, and relationships become stronger from it (especially marriage).
- Open-minded participants of conflicts often become more aware of themselves and how they may appear.
- After healthy conflicts, people are less afraid to open up further discussions about future conflicts, which strengthens relationships and harmonizes their culture.
- Critical conflicts, handled correctly, can make or break entire organizations.
Conflict requires high-stress communication:
- Every conflict requires speaking well and maintaining your composure, which requires managing stress to avoid saying something you’ll regret.
- Your internalized subconscious trauma will very often add more problems to the conflict, so self-awareness is absolutely critical to understand what you’re feeling moment-to-moment.
- When conflicts go poorly, we suffer tremendous misery from prolonged thinking about it, as well as anticipatory pain later.
Deferring conflict magnifies it:
- All conflicts are risky, but the earliest possible moment to address it is typically the lowest-risk time to approach it.
- Stalling a conflict, even a small one, makes it worse.
- Close relationships require trust, which requires talking out conflicts.
Gratitude and revenge tend to complicate conflicts:
- We are grateful or vengeful when someone has done something good or bad to us in the past.
- For this reason, we impose past experiences that may not apply to present situations.
- The only way to stay level-headed in a conflict is to ignore both for yourself while understanding how others interpret it.
Healthy conflicts require both sides willing to change and compromise:
- You must believe in others and want something beyond the conflict.
- Many conflicts have solutions where everyone can win, so it’s not healthy to focus on “winning” or “losing” them.
- Consider all your failings when approaching them, since they’re likely noting them more than you are.
- Always assume that person believes they’re being perfectly reasonable and logical, irrespective of reality.
- However, also assume you don’t know most of what that person knows.
In polite company, avoid confronting conflicts directly:
- If you must confront something, speak privately unless you’re trying to draw public attention to it and destroy relationships.
- When discussing politics or religion, approach the topics very carefully.
- Once you’ve talked about those things, you’ve permanently marked yourself with whatever stereotypes people made of that group.
- Focus political/religious discussions away from facts you perceive (which are often biased or could be wrong).
- Instead, focus on personal experiences (which are harder to refute) and shared beliefs that nobody can disagree on (which builds rapport).
- Generally, if you’re uneasy on how they’ll feel about anything, ask questions more than make statements.
Try to create 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative one:
- To find any satisfaction with others, we tend to need many more good experiences to offset the bad ones.
- Try to find times where interacting with them will only lead to a positive experience.
Show integrity and honesty:
- Honesty conforms words to reality, while integrity conforms reality to words.
- Both are difficult habits if you haven’t practiced them.
- Keep commitments and thoroughly apologize and explain when you can’t.
- Make people feel important.
- Clarify your expectations and address theirs.
- Demonstrate positive intent, at the beginning and throughout the experience with others.
The internet is toxic because it’s very difficult to establish rapport:
Circumvent people you don’t like:
- Even if you can’t stand being in the same room as them, find a redeeming quality of theirs to avoid showing any disgust.
- To leave, make a vague excuse.
- Since people usually know when others dislike them, don’t directly express your distaste for them or try to earn favor to compensate.
- Don’t draw attention to your decision.
- Give a vague, general explanation if others bring it up.
- They don’t really care why you do it, and simply want to pressure you to do it with them.
- If they keep pressing, lighten the conversation with humor and redirect it.
Manage others’ insults gracefully:
- Don’t react to the insult.
- If they’re correct, you have something to change, and should learn more self-awareness, and even more if they’re a stranger.
- If they’re incorrect, they obviously don’t know who you are, so have no authority to speak about it.
- When you respect the person who insulted you, take the experience as an opportunity to grow.
- If you don’t respect the person who insulted you, consider that a relief: you’re not the right kind of person for them to respect.
- You can only respond to an insult in a few specific ways:
- Insult back, which tends to go nowhere and can make you look petty.
- Make a clever comeback (e.g., reframing their intended insult as a good thing).
- Defuse the remark with some self-aware humor (which is sometimes really hard to do).
- Find a way to take revenge later, which is usually a waste of your time and will destroy your happiness further.
- Pretend it didn’t happen.
- People usually don’t mean insult, and often are simply not honoring social rules they hadn’t learned.
- Treat insults like a barking dog: something to note, but not necessarily important or personal.
- If someone chronically insults you, avoid that person if at all possible.
- Don’t intervene against insults of people around you, since you’ll likely make those people more hypersensitive to them and will potentially offend everyone.
If you legitimately hurt others, apologize sincerely and quickly:
- Apologizing requires vulnerability and sincerity:
- A specific statement of what you did.
- Recognizing everything you’re specifically responsible for.
- Acknowledging any pain or embarrassment you caused.
- Acknowledging any wrongdoing you’ve done.
- Expressing regret over what you had done.
- Communicating future intentions to not do it again.
- Speak plainly and don’t sidestep the matter:
- “I was wrong.”
- “That was unkind of me.”
- “I was disrespectful.”
- “I gave you no dignity, and am deeply sorry.”
- Only apologize from inner strength, not because you feel you must.
- However, never apologize for something you didn’t do.
- If you’re careful, you can usually express heartfelt sympathy without apologizing.
Resist the impulse to learn rumors people have made about you.
If someone is spreading a rumor about you:
- In public, stay nearby to prevent them from spreading more rumors.
- Calmly let them know what you overheard without pressuring them to explain.
- If there’s any truth to a rumor, own those truths immediately and publicly to avoid others hearing embellished versions of the story.
Try to subdue rumors about others:
- Don’t repeat the rumor to anyone, though you may want to inform the victim or ask for clarification.
- Change the subject to stop the gossip.
- Ask the person sharing if the victim knows about it and is fine with you knowing.
- If the rumor is false, publicly point out how it can’t be true.
If someone is sharing something you wanted to keep private:
- Consider why they let the secret slip.
- If they’re telling another person involved with the problem, don’t blame them since that person needed to know anyway.
- Since it’s public, get ahead of the secret by telling everyone who may know next.
- Forgive them and move on after you’ve confronted them about it and seen their attitude.
Approach others’ failings correctly
Beforehand, acknowledge that you don’t want to hurt them with what you’re about to say.
Consistently praise whenever you see someone’s behavior improve.
Pass off minor slights without comment.
If someone else has behaved inappropriately, make a “request sandwich”:
- Before you say anything, they must be willing to hear correction, and it must be private with their full attention.
- Give them a heartfelt affirmation.
- Make the request or direction as constructively and indirectly as possible.
- Share your view with “I” statements.
- Use a story, share a similar personal failing, or frame it as a question.
- Be very specific, since vaguely expressed issues can often sound worse than the issue itself.
- People will usually know what you’re alluding to, so don’t repeat yourself if they understand.
- Wrap it up with another kind statement or affirmation.
- If they keep doing it, promptly reference the prior conversation with them, but otherwise forget about it and move on.
At all costs, avoid the “you” pronoun and rebuild the sentence to use “we”, “there appears to be”, and “I”.
When they may even remotely disagree, speak without certainty (e.g., “It appears that…” instead of “You are…”).
Don’t judge prematurely:
- People may simply not understand that they’re behaving rudely.
- Most of the time, people have a past childhood that failed to prepare them for adult life.
- Sometimes, people have mental disorders that make them completely incapable of understanding how they’re hurting anyone.
If you know someone is lying to you:
- Make absolutely certain you’re reading them correctly.
- Hint at what you know.
- Suggest you don’t believe them.
- If you must have a confession, directly confront them, but you’re risking your relationship with them in the process.
After the dialogue, openly ask how your statement came across.
Direct the flow of information
If, for whatever reason, you can’t hear someone after they’ve repeated themselves:
- Thank them for their patience and restate what you heard.
- If you’ll unlikely hear them again clearly enough, suggest a more audible time in the future or to write to each other.
When people ask probing questions you don’t want to answer:
- While they come across as pushy, people often speak in a way they imagine is fine in a discussion.
- Ask their opinion on the matter, then give them information that changes their initial judgment.
- If you really don’t want to answer or believe they’re interrogating, communicate a statement about it, then repeat that exact same statement if they circle around to that question later.
When someone is sharing too much personal information:
- They want a connection and don’t realize they’re alienating themselves.
- Immediately say one of the following:
- “I’m probably not the person to tell this to.”
- “Whoa, TMI!”
- “Let’s not talk about this, someone might hear you.”
- “It hurts me to hear this, let’s talk about something else.”
- If the person continues to over-share, use a more casual and engaging environment like going to a movie.
If someone is talking incessantly or loudly:
- Lean forward and assume a calm and patient demeanor.
- People keep talking because they don’t feel they’ve adequately expressed themselves.
- Shift the tone of the conversation.
- Tell an appropriate joke about what they’re talking about.
- Look contemplative and say “hmmm” to stop them for a few seconds.
- In your response, speak more quietly or calmly than them.
- Redirect the conversation to something else.
If someone is barely speaking:
- Commenting on their how quiet they are or making general small talk will make them quieter.
- Ask about them or talk about something you know they like.
- Instead of trying to continually fill the silence, use it for contemplation.
When you must share bad news:
- Express empathy about how you expect they’ll feel about the news.
- Add a modifier to pace them for it (e.g., “I don’t want to have to tell you this, but…”).
- Say it plainly.
- Let silence persist for them to take the news.
- If you want to share a positive benefit, diminish it first (e.g., “There is one small benefit to it…”), but only if you’re not the cause of that bad news.
If you’re starting to feel any unpleasant emotions, say something to give yourself space (e.g., “I need a few seconds to process this”), then take some time to calm down.
Say “no” politely
Try to acknowledge others’ statements, but respond with “yes, and…” more than “no”:
- “Unfortunately, I have too much to do today. I can help you another time.”
- “I’m flattered by your offer, but no thank you.”
- “That sounds fun, but I have a lot going on at home.”
- “I’m not comfortable doing that task. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
- “It’s not a good time for me, but I’ll let you know if my schedule frees up.”
- ” Sorry, I have already committed to something else. I hope you understand.”
- “No, I won’t be able to fit that into my schedule this week.”
- “I would love to join you, but I’m a little overwhelmed with work right now.”
- “I’m not taking on any other work right now. Maybe check with another department?”
- “Thank you for thinking of me, but I don’t wish to accept your offer.”
- “Sadly, I can’t help with that. I’m not qualified for that type of work.”
- “The timing right now isn’t good. Can you keep me in mind for next time?
- “How about you try it on your own first, and then I can help you?”
- “I know this isn’t the answer you wanted, but I can’t accept your offer.”
- “I enjoyed helping you last time, but I am too busy to assist you right now.”
- “Thanks, but I’m all good. I appreciate the offer.”
- “I’m not interested this time. I’m sure someone else would love the opportunity.”
- “No, sorry. I must prioritize my family right now.”
- “I’ve been feeling too busy lately. I will have to decline this time.”
- “I’ve had a negative experience with that before, so I’ll have to decline.”
- “I’ve done that many times already. Let’s give someone else a chance to try.”
- “I feel honored by you asking me this question, but I still must say ‘no’ this time.”
- “That’s very thoughtful of you. I appreciate the offer, but I’m simply too busy with work this time.”
- “I’m not the right fit for this task. I can help you think of someone else to ask.”
- “Unfortunately, that’s just not possible. It won’t work out this time.”
- “That sounds so exciting, but we’ll have to wait for another time.”
- “Are you sure you want me to do that? I would rather not, but I appreciate you asking.”
- “That’s not the right choice for you, let’s look at this one instead.”
- “I really shouldn’t this time, but thank you.”
- “Let me get back to you, but I’m not confident about it working out.”
- “This task doesn’t align with my own principles. Could we change what I need to do?”
- “I told myself I wouldn’t do that again. Thanks for respecting my decision.”
- “No, thank you. I would appreciate it if you accepted my choice.”
- “I know that’s challenging for you, but I don’t have the capacity to help you at the moment.”
- “I can’t help, but I have some resources I can forward to you.”
- “Out of respect to my privacy, I hope you can understand my answer is no.”
- “I’ve been spending too much money lately, can I join you after our next paycheck?”
- “I’m low on cash right now. Can we do something that’s free?”
- “I would love to help, but I have too much going on. Best of luck with your endeavors.”
- “I’ve actually changed my mind. I no longer can help you. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.”
- “Unfortunately, I cannot say ‘yes’ this time. I hope you can find someone who can.”
- “I don’t feel comfortable with you asking me that. Can you please refrain from doing so in the future?”
- “How about instead of me doing that, I help you with something else?”
- “This deal doesn’t feel right to me, so I’ll have to decline this time.”
- “This doesn’t seem like a healthy decision for me, so I must regretfully decline.”
- “Agreeing to this would go against what I believe in. Thank you for understanding that.”
- “I can’t because my own team needs me.”
- “I’m afraid I can’t. Let’s discuss this another time.”
- “I’m going to pass this time. Perhaps we can discuss this again next month.”
- “This doesn’t fall under my job description. Please refer to our manager to learn who to ask.”
If you have guests at your house and want them to leave:
- Give verbal or nonverbal cues that you wish to be alone.
- Mention legitimate limits like an appointment or the need to sleep.
- Imply the end of the visit by asking to schedule new plans or implying you want to meet in the future.
- Give them a parting gift to indicate you want them to leave.
When someone overstays a multi-day visit:
- Ask questions about their departure to imply they must leave soon.
- Take them out to a farewell drink or meal to mark their leaving.
- Request another friend or family member to meet on a day you want the guest to leave by, then communicate the situation to the guest.
If someone isn’t respecting your privacy:
- They feel insecure and distrustful, and insist on open discussion.
- Ask what they were hoping to discover to clear up any issues.
- Give them the information they need to make decisions, but don’t be afraid to say “I’m not comfortable sharing that right now.”
If someone else drags you into their conflict:
- Speak neutrally with everyone else around.
- Since it’s not your conflict, avoid jumping into it.
- Speak honestly with everyone involved about the difficult situation you’re in.
- If you do want to be involved, only lean into what you know to be true, and not based on your reputation with anyone.
When others ask for a favor you don’t want to give:
- Say “no”, since there’s no way around it.
- Relenting after saying “no” means they’ve manipulated you, so stand firm.
If someone is selling something to you:
- Say you don’t have time, then ask for followup information like a website.
- If you don’t need their product, express admiration for their tenacity and ask for their business card.
If you’re paying someone for a task:
- Ask them what they think is a reasonable price, then give that rate if they’ve already been honest.
- Only haggle with them if you know for certain they’re lying and you don’t care about a relationship with them.
If someone is romantically attracted to you and you don’t feel the same:
- Be honest about your feelings.
- Tell them you don’t want to take the relationship further, but avoid details.
- Avoid vague words that might give them false hope that you may change your mind.
When others ask you to review their work and you don’t want to:
- We usually don’t want to review others’ work because we know they’ll treat the review as if it’s about them instead of their work.
- If they ask for brutal honesty, they likely aren’t ready for it.
- To avoid crossing boundaries, ask what specific feedback they want.
Defuse someone very angry at you or screaming:
- Stay calmer than they are, and never let yourself lose control of your tone.
- If they don’t calm themselves on their own, deliver a warning with consequences that’ll give them time to calm down (e.g., walking out the door and coming back in an hour), and carry it out if they don’t.
- Once they’ve calmed themselves (which may be after a while), acknowledge their feeling, and add an anecdote if you can empathize with their situation.
- If you’re at all responsible, offer an apology for any portion you have done wrong.
- If you have control over any part of it, promise you’ll do what you can to improve things (but only if you expect to).
Many factors determine the correct attitude for resolving any given conflict:
- There’s a broad range of influences you must consider:
- Healthy negotiators often shift their attitude in the midst of a conflict based on new information.
- Your desires will likely change once you gain more information, especially if you care at all about anyone else but yourself.
Win/Lose is pure dominance:
- It’s the preferred style of selfish people and the first one anyone learns as a child.
- Win/Lose openly gives demands, but doesn’t consider the effort others may have to make for them.
- For the most part, this style is delivering an all-or-nothing ultimatum.
- It can either be aggressive or passive-aggressive.
- It’s an authoritarian mentality: one individual determines everything.
- Most traditional leadership roles are Win/Lose.
- If it’s used frequently or to an extreme, it will utterly destroy relationships because that person is asserting that other people don’t matter.
Lose/Win is pure submission:
- Lose/Win considers others, but not oneself.
- The mark of Lose/Win is to gives in to the others’ wishes through accommodating or submitting.
- The motivation for this style can come from multiple sources:
- Cowardice against an extreme Win/Lose style
- False belief that it’s better to lose than win.
- Lose/Win ignores self-interest, so most people will balance their Lose/Win with inappropriate Win/Lose conflicts elsewhere in their lives.
- Lose/Lose is a desire for nobody to benefit.
- People shift to Lose/Lose when they feel they have no hope of getting what they want and resent others for it.
- People in a Lose/Lose mentality are usually unwilling to openly discuss demands.
- The most frequent form of Lose/Lose is simply avoiding the problem altogether.
- Lose/Lose comes from anyone who doesn’t see any benefit to have a conflict.
- If two Win/Lose people refuse to change, they can create a Lose/Lose situation.
- Win/Win wants everyone to benefit.
- However, everyone must have the right attitude for it to work:
- Open-minded to possibilities beyond the conflict.
- Comfortable with everyone gaining from any agreement.
- Belief in everyone else also wanting Win/Win.
- Win/Win requires also believing that there’s enough to fulfill everyone’s satisfaction.
Win/Win or No Deal:
- Win/Win or No Deal is a more intense and far more useful variation of Win/Win.
- In practice, it’s technically a Win/Lose where the only Win conditions are Win/Win.
- The attitude requires believing that if anyone loses, nobody gains, so it’s incompatible with strong Win/Lose and Lose/Win attitudes.
Part Win/Part Lose:
- This tactic appears when someone considers Win/Win impossible.
- Most mediation and negotiation is Part Win/Part Lose.
- It’s more a hybrid of other styles than anything else.
Interactions across attitudes has a certain type of Rock-Paper-Scissors effect:
- Give the correct attitude proportionally to their attitude on the subject.
- This will pivot and change as the dialogue continues and new information unveils itself.
- If they’re Win/Lose, give them Win/Win or No Deal.
- When they refuse to budge, either give your own Win/Lose or Lose/Lose and walk away.
- If they’re Lose/Win, give them Win/Win or No Deal.
- When they refuse to budge, give a Part Win/Part Lose, but leave the dialogue open for further discussion.
- Often, someone’s Lose/Win is also a Win for themselves elsewhere, so very carefully track their honesty.
- When they’re Lose/Lose, affirm their feelings and emphasize Win/Win or No Deal.
- If they don’t move, you must resort to their Lose/Lose and assume it until they’re willing to revisit it.
- When they’re Win/Win, openly voice any concerns you have but give Win/Win as well.
- If they’re Win/Win or No Deal, openly voice any concerns you have and give it time.
- They’ll be willing to change if they’re really Win/Win or No Deal, or they’re simply Win/Lose with excellent speaking skills.
- Part Win/Part Lose means they’ve already conceded something, and are conflicted in themselves.
- Tread carefully, since they’re already uncomfortable with the arrangement and feel somewhat cheated of what they wanted.
Sometimes, there are multiple conflicts, with different styles, and it requires carefully separating out the events moment-by-moment:
- What we want often fulfills multiple needs, so we’ll often react to various needs in different forms.
- Sometimes we have inner conflicts where the ideas ripple around inside us, and sometimes it ripples outward.
- Use the Tit-For-Tat strategy when you don’t know what that person wants: imitate whatever style back to them they did last.
- Once you have a baseline, however, find a consistent strategy and stick to it.
- Often, people feel very insecure and need someone predictable to tether them.
When you disagree with someone, mind a few realities:
- When people are angry or afraid, they’re 20-40 IQ points dumber than normal.
- You can only change yourself.
- You can only influence others if they let you.
- If someone doesn’t want to believe something, their mind will only change with proof.
- Every human, yourself included, believes certain things without proof.
Most innocent conflicts have a few particular, silly causes:
- Different definitions of the same word or phrase.
- Solutions to issues that someone else sees as backward or incomplete.
- Expectations about others’ behavior which assume malicious intent.
Work very hard to find “shared facts”:
- You’ll often need quite a bit of awareness about the situation and how others might be thinking, as well as what you certainly don’t know.
- However, if you’re aware of what drives a disagreement, you can effectively deflect or defuse any conflict, or at the very least mitigate its risks.
Give clear, specific feedback on problems:
- Start by stating the situation where their action happened.
- Describe an exact example of what they did (preferably better than they could describe it themselves), along with the most positive explanations for those things.
- Explain the impact their actions had on others.
- If they refuse to admit it, give at least two more clear examples with explanations and consequences.
- If you want, ask their intention for those actions, but don’t respond to their emotions.
- If relevant, tell them the consequences you see if they keep doing what they’ve done, as well as what you want.
- Encourage that they carefully consider the matter, then leave it alone.
Everyone disagrees on a hierarchy:
- Refuting the other person’s central point(s) (“You’re saying this idea, but this idea doesn’t work because…”).
- Pointing out the other person’s error by quoting them (“You said ‘that idea’, but that’s incorrect because…”).
- Contradicting the other person, then supporting it with evidence or reasoning (“The opposite of that idea is true because…”).
- Contradicting the other person without sufficiently supporting it (“You’re wrong.”).
- Criticizing that person’s tone without addressing their points (“You said you feel your idea is valid, but I trust fact and not feelings.”).
- Attacking the person’s characteristics or authority without addressing their points (“You have no right to say that”).
- Calling the person names or using insults without presenting a counterargument (“You’re an idiot.”).
When you disagree, have a goal in mind:
- There are at least two sides to every disagreement, as well as a straightforward “third option” that nobody has talked about yet.
- Every single person has exclusive awareness of at least some facts, including some facts you’re not aware of.
- Don’t take anyone’s behavior personally: since it’s likely habitual, their hateful, rude, or unkind behavior toward you is more like a mental disease they can’t control.
Influential people confirm what people agree with, then add new information to adapt others’ views:
- Think deeply about what you believe until you fully understand it.
- Share what causes your beliefs, but not what you believe.
- Give the listener plenty of time to think it over.
- Share, as your perspective, what you think (“My belief is that…”)
- Give them more time to think it over and never bring up the subject again.
If you have a strong opinion on something, use the Two-And-Done Rule:
- Bring up or confront the issue once, with the open understanding they will probably not agree.
- If they don’t agree, let it go and wait a while (at least days or weeks)
- When you see the issue again, bring it up a second time.
- If they still don’t agree, yield to their decision while retaining your opinion.
- Never bring it up again.
Never say “no” more than once: state healthy boundaries the first time, then enforce them if someone tests it again.
If you feel your rights are being violated, take personal responsibility that you put yourself in that situation:
- If you focus more on the person who violated your rights, you’re keeping yourself open to that event repeating itself with someone else.
Some people are completely impossible to please, and should always be a low priority compared to everyone and everything else.
Note subversive tactics:
- Most people who use subversive tactics know how to provoke others’ feelings on command.
- Your only resistance to those tactics is with awareness of your feelings and self-discipline against your impulses.
- If you’re caught unaware, that person can usually reveal your weaknesses and break you down.
- Avoid spending much time around these tactics, since they destroy your happiness across the rest of your life and influence you to perform those actions on others.
- If you choose to be around people who use devious tactics, spend time with better friends to offset how much they’ll influence you.
- While you can use subversive tactics with others, maintain your moral standards.
If you expect underhanded tactics:
- Recognize what they’re doing.
- Only observe it to ignore it.
- Never let it affect the conversation unless you want to address it.
- Sidestep their tactics.
- Treat your statements as if someone is constantly recording what you say.
- Never give a simple answer to a complicated question unless you fully accept its implied statement.
- e.g., “Do you or don’t you have the money you stole?”
- Saying “Yes” or “No” is also implying, “I stole the money.”
- e.g., “Do you or don’t you have the money you stole?”
- If you ever make a misstatement, own it immediately to prevent them from using it later.
- If you justify it, do it on the basis of why you said it in the first place.
- If they won’t stop, draw attention to their tactic.
- Negotiate your terms for continuing the discussion.
- Clarify new rules about how you’ll respond to their behavior.
- Note that an underhanded tactic that worked in the past sets a precedent for future conflicts.
If you’re in a new community that thrives on frequent conflict, find the highest-ranking member of the organization you expect to win against and antagonize them into a fight:
- If you’re perceptive, you’ll likely win and become the most respected person in the room.
- However, don’t take on more than you can handle: you’re likely facing someone more experienced than you and probably has the favor of everyone else there.
- If you’re publicly humiliated, graciously accept defeat and find a new community as soon as possible.
Detect a crucial conflict
Some conflicts are extremely important with vast, far-reaching effects:
- Your character and integrity is heavily defined by how you handle crucial conflicts.
- Most aspects of long-term success require extreme attention to when a conflict becomes crucial, as well as knowing how to handle them correctly.
- Most people who fail with crucial conflicts tend to suffer extreme hardship by others and end up in legal trouble.
Watch for when a conflict has intensified:
- Signs of stress, unrest, or agitation.
- People start to feel unsafe.
- Each person has their own style of self-protective toxicity, but it’s usually expressed as silence or violence.
- Silence is “flight” and removes new information from the shared dialogue.
- Masking understates or selectively shows honest opinions, often with vagueness or sarcasm.
- Avoiding simply changes the subject.
- Withdrawing leaves the discussion entirely.
- Violence is “fight” and tries to force others toward a new point of view.
- Controlling forces views or dominates the conversation.
- Belittling makes a broad statement, then dismisses it.
- Attacking either using fierce belittling or makes threats.
Learn to detect when conflicts need a negotiation:
- Someone imagines extreme consequences.
- Opinions appear to differ.
- Someone has strong feelings.
Observe power dynamics
Consider how much power each person wields:
With official authorities, temper your behavior:
A. Overpowering is trying to command the most control in the conflict:
- They’re using intensity and manipulation to control the situation, often by ignoring their boundaries and limits.
- The only version of reality they’ll acknowledge is their own understanding.
- To them, nobody else is allowed to use their power, so they’ll communicate unreasonable demands without any feeling or consideration.
- They’re generally indifferent to others in the conflict until they’re affected by it, and won’t tend to listen to others’ feelings or thoughts.
- When they perceive opposition they’ll counter, block, and divert it.
- Often, they’ll subtly or directly blame, judge, and criticize to prematurely subdue opposition.
- Sometimes, they’ll use witty sarcasm or silently withhold information.
B. Passive power is trying to gain approval from everyone:
- They won’t directly ask for what they need or want.
- Usually, they’re avoiding all confrontation, then when an unavoidable conflict arises they’ll make inadequate demands involving their personal gain.
- Often, they refuse to bargain or negotiate what they want.
- Watch for modifiers that lessen the impact of statements (sorry, I just…, I mean…).
- At the farthest end, they destroy society by exploiting others’ kindness by deceiving people that their status is worse than it is.
C. Personal power believes in and desires mutual benefit and coexistence:
Healthy conflicts require everyone to interpret each other at a similar amount of power:
- When someone throws around their authority, other people feel inferior and tend to submit unwillingly or rebel.
Overpowering and passive power are designed to convey an image of more/less power than they have:
- Most overpowering or passive power is driven by a desire to gain a power advantage, which is unfavorable to everyone else.
- To find a Win/Win solution, you must enhance or undermine their power for them to perceive it as matching yours.
- Frequently, people will use those forms of power to then gain power from others’ reactions:
- Overpowering scares others, which can be manipulated to make someone appear like they can harm someone else.
- Passive power elicits pity, which can provoke others to cut back on their own needs or wants.
- Nobody likes either, so using personal power can often create huge ripples across entire communities.
Carefully examine and manage threats:
- Whether conscious or unconscious, people make threats by exploiting loopholes and ambiguity.
- The severity of the threat comes from how much they can answer 4 questions:
- What can the person do, and what are they actually willing to do?
- Who will do what they’re threatening?
- When would they be able to do it?
- How could they do it?
- Often, their personality can also give clues: more dramatic means less ability to act.
- The inverse of threats come through shame, sometimes with religious threats involved.
- The only way to shut down an idle threat is to ignore it:
- Stay mindful of what people will actually do, even when they’re screaming and dancing next to your face.
- Don’t relent on your boundaries, even if they’re begging or shaming you.
Every conflict is a type of negotiation:
- In a way, negotiation is communication focused on results.
- You always have something to gain, even if it’s changing their opinions or leaving you alone.
- You’re the best defender of your rights and privileges, so you must have the courage to stand up for yourself.
- Always, throughout the dialogue, stay focused on what you want.
- Never treat the conflict as a either/or option or you’ll trigger a fight-or-flight response in yourself.
Everyone tends to manage negotiations by accommodating, assertion, or analysis:
- Accommodators want to be on talking terms with others, even if they can’t agree.
- Their biggest risk is that they’ll compromise their values and make bad deals.
- They also have a tendency to make endless small talk, which irritates the other types.
- Assertives believe every minute in a conflict beyond necessary is a waste.
- They tend to value winning above anything else and disregard others’ desires.
- You can only win them over when they’re convinced you understand them.
- Analysts systematically and methodically work toward what they want.
- Only disagree with them using hard facts and information.
- Warn them of issues early, and never surprise them.
- We tend to subconsciously project our own style onto others and expect them to behave in turn.
Don’t worry about offense from the confrontation:
- You’re entering a conflict because you want to see change, but change is often offensive.
- While we should care about others, our only universal obligation is to respect them.
- That person has the right to think whatever they want of you, no matter how awful.
Healthy negotiations cycle through the same stages:
- At least one person sees an issue, then identifies what they want or need.
- That person approaches someone with the power to do something about it and starts a dialogue.
- Eventually, they confronts them with that desire or demand, which often has many “I feel” statements or agreed-upon facts.
- They discuss a way to reconcile the demands, which can last anywhere from a few seconds to months depending on the severity.
- The conflict resolves with someone stating absolute consequences, or people bring up additional conflicts to further intensify the experience.
Contrary to popular opinion, great negotiation represents something closer to modern psychotherapy than a haggling session.
Before you approach them, make a good guess of what everyone wants:
- You must know what you desire and fear.
- Rank each desire on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Expect to sacrifice your lowest-priority desires to get what you want.
- You sohuld somewhat reliably guess their desires.
- People tend to impose their background onto others.
- Don’t expect others to see your desires, and always keep your mind open about theirs.
Be careful with numbers:
- As soon as you use a number (often involving money), it establishes a precedent that people expect as a baseline and keep mentally revisiting.
- Always use a specific number (like 9.98) instead of a “round” number (like 10) to imply you know the exact value of something.
- Numbers like “3” and “7” imply an exact calculation, while round numbers like “5” and “10” imply approximations.
- Always start with a much safer number than you’re willing to sacrifice for, since they’re almost certainly going to try to change it.
- Instead of giving your “actual” value, give a recommended one (e.g., “People with my experience level are usually worth 55 to 75 thousand” when you know you could get 50).
Have a backup plan if they won’t compromise:
- Since nobody else will do it for you, you must have a plan to protect yourself with a BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement):
- A BATNA is a non-negotiable red line you won’t let the other person cross.
- Your negotiation power comes directly from the strength of your BATNA.
- The less you need, the stronger your BATNA can be.
- Look at every possible negotiable thing you could consider sacrificing if you needed:
- Things you don’t use or won’t use.
- Opportunities you won’t take advantage of.
- Risks that affect both of you.
- Abilities and resources you have that they don’t.
- Pay close attention to built-in benefits to otherwise unpleasant situations.
Attack the problem, not the person
Since people want to be important, but you do too, treat the conflict as two important people hashing out a problem together:
- That person is never your enemy, but the problem is, and you simply have to both convince and adapt to the other person’s solution.
- Everyone has a logical flow of thoughts that appear reasonable to them.
Good negotiations require patience:
- Stay alert to what you don’t know: many things that provoke others’ behavior you’ll never be able to guess.
- To prolong their patience, you must want what’s best for them and put them at ease.
- The easiest way to exude patience is to always maintain a pleasant disposition and stay unaffected by events as they unfold.
To gain their trust, prioritize your relationship with them:
- Use “we” in your statements prematurely, and frequently.
- Openly express your distress over the problem, but avoid attributing it to anyone.
- Appeal to the other person’s best qualities.
- Even when it seems unlikely, assume meaningful dialogue is possible.
- Learn what’s happening, not whose fault it is.
- Respect them, irrespective of what they think of you.
Most people are reliving past dysfunctional roles from their family:
- Our past hardship gives all of us destructive, counterproductive approaches.
- Good negotiation draws from a person’s “best self”, which requires ignoring their “worst self”.
Listen carefully to them:
- The listener has more power in the dialogue because they’re directing the power of the speaker.
- To keep them talking, repeat back the last few words they said.
- Listening requires acknowledging, which isn’t always agreeing.
- When there’s a pause, recognize and approve their feelings, but circle around the reality those feelings are based on.
- People tend to resent being misunderstood, so pay close attention to their point of view and why they believe it, all the way back to their religious and political views.
- When they freely speak, they’ll feel more important and valued, and you’ll have more information to understand them.
Speak plainly and directly:
- Learn concise speaking (<40 words) to keep everyone focused.
- “When [observation], I feel [emotion] because I need [universal need].”
- “You can do that, but it will require [sensible list of things] to get there, and I wouldn’t recommend that if I were you.”
- Are you able to [request]?”
- “Before we go further to [big idea], do we agree on [small idea]?”
Before reacting, slow down:
- Most people are unaware how they appear when they’re upset, but tend to phrase statements as verbal attacks.
- If you perceive something offensive, resist the urge to attack back.
- At the same time, you should be self-aware enough to see when you must walk away to cool down.
Negotiate from principles and encourage them to do the same:
- See the problem from their side.
- Identify critical issues and concerns (but not people) involved.
- Give results that provide an entirely acceptable solution.
- Identify possible new ways to achieve these results from other angles.
- If they keep attacking, refuse to retaliate and instead redirect the attacks toward the problem.
1. Agree on a date
When you can, dive right in at the moment:
- A planned negotiation is often the least revealing because people dread the conflict more from anticipation and are therefore the most guarded.
- Impromptu meetings are best because they catch people at their most authentic and vulnerable.
- If you do plan out a meeting, ask advice from others to see what you can learn before entering it and research very thoroughly about everything that may apply to the situation.
If you’re engaging the conflict with someone else on your side, clarify beforehand what you both want to do:
- One person will always be leading, with the other person as moral support and commentary.
- If you and your allies have a conflict during the negotiation, you’ve just given an opportunity for them to enhance your conflict.
- Clarify every expectation you each want, with clear plans on what to do and how much the leader can improvise.
- By the time you enter the set conflict, you should all understand each other perfectly.
Keep the meeting away from other obligations:
- Consider the emotional state you’ll both be in after wherever you both came from.
- If you’re concerned about the conversation going nowhere, have an event planned right after the conflict to justify leaving.
Set the location in a neutral zone:
- Try to find a venue without distractions or interruptions.
- If anyone else will be present, stay extremely certain over what side they’ll likely take.
- There’s a huge difference between a mediator and arbitrator overseeing the conflict:
- A mediator is an unaffected third-party with nothing to gain or lose from either side.
- An arbitrator is a decision-making judge, and typically appointed by the party with more power.
- Arbitration can often become a 2-on-1 battle.
- If they’re arbitrating, consider an audio recording in case the conflict has adverse legal consequences, or bring an attorney to even it out.
- While a mediator may intervene and be quite skilled at it, do not let them take control of the conflict, since they won’t have to live with the consequences while you will.
- If they’re leading you down a path you don’t approve of, call a time-out and tell them privately that if they continue along that route you will get a new mediator.
- If you’re arbitrating, expect them to bring an attorney.
Start the engagement on a positive note like small talk or giving an affirmation:
- You’ll learn more about them from the first few minutes before getting down to business and the last few moments as everyone is leaving.
- For this reason, stay alert from the moment you encounter them until you’ve left.
2. Clarify expectations first
You must find mutual purpose together:
- Commit to seek a mutual purpose with them (e.g., “we both want what’s best for the company”).
- Recognize the purpose behind their strategy, and ask why they want something.
- Invent a mutual purpose, and provoke everyone to a better shared purpose.
Focus on what they want, not where they’re at or what they need:
- Needs are matters of survival, while wants are a bit easier to talk about.
- A person desperate enough can always change their situation to get what they want.
- Wants and desires often change as both sides gain more understanding of each other.
- Watch for “unmoving” rules that would offend them.
- Everyone has the same types of needs:
- People tend to need much more than they like to admit.
Consider what everyone has:
- Goals: What does each party want?
- Trades: What is each party planning to sacrifice for it?
- Alternatives: What is each party open to giving instead?
- Contingency Plans: What will each party do if they can’t get what they want?
- Relationships: What relationships and history with other people does each party have, and how can it affect the future?
- Expected Outcomes: What do both sides believe will happen from this situation?
- Consequences: What do both sides believe will happen from various decisions about the situation?
- Power: Who has more power and resources than the other, and who has the most to lose?
- Possible Solutions: Given everything, which reasonable compromises can everyone make?
Ask questions to understand their interests and perspective:
- Test your assumptions by asking if they want something in particular.
- If they correct you and aren’t lying, openly admit you’ve been wrong and promptly change your beliefs about them.
- Try to find additional things that everyone may have overlooked which could benefit various parties.
- Often, a small change in a situation, or a future likely change, can make the entire conflict irrelevant.
To the degree you trust them, openly share your feelings and what you want:
- Sharing information gives a reason for them to trust you back, which helps in reaching an agreement.
- At the same time, be careful because they could risk using that information against you.
- Never give more information than they need to make their decisions, since they can use everything you say against you later.
- If you don’t trust them but still plan to share, clearly state the consequences if they abuse your trust.
3. Insist on objective criteria
Keep your standards fair:
- Suspend your judgments and desires.
- Make purposeful, intentional steps and avoid rushing any decisions.
You must desire peace with the other person or they will be defensive.
Stay aware of the stated conflict:
- You can usually see the demands and proposals of both sides right away.
- It takes more work, but pay attention to both sides’ underlying needs or requirements.
- Behind those needs, carefully consider their likely goals and objectives, but keep an open mind.
- Within their goals and objectives, look for any shared goals or objectives (which often takes creativity to find).
- Stay focused on what you know and understand, especially if emotions start getting more intense.
Establish unalterable realities:
- These are “facts” and “givens”.
- Agreeing on facts is critical because not everyone agrees on the same information.
- Avoid “I” statements, and frame everything with an abstracted voice (e.g., “It sounds like…”, “It feels like…”, “I’m hearing that…”).
- “I” statements claim personal responsibility for words, but people in conflicts are frequently looking for a reason to be offended.
- At the same time, since you’re stating sometihng as a “fact”, only make statements you know the other person will agree with
- Differentiate between someone’s observations and evaluations.
Accept responsibility for your portion of the conflict:
- Acknowledge the conflict exists.
- Speak specifically, and avoid generalizing the situation.
- Very often, feelings cloud judgment because one incident can imply a pattern.
- Patterns are a different discussion altogether from individual conflicts, and usually require changing difficult habits.
- Since you probably don’t even know what they want you to apologize for, don’t apologize immediately.
As much as possible, encourage them to share their views:
- You’re trying to let them feel their ideas have been heard, not to “get everyone to make a decision”.
- Ask them what their sincere thoughts are, and don’t judge anything they say.
- Mirror their behaviors and statements to confirm their feelings.
- Paraphrase their statements to acknowledge the story they’re trying to present.
- When you’re getting nowhere, provoke them by being more vulnerable.
- Vulnerability requires trust and belief.
While focusing on reality, don’t disregard their feelings:
- Throughout the exchange, they have feelings they’re likely not aware of that drive their decisions.
- They must feel important, listened to, and understood for their feelings to surface.
- As their feelings arise and they feel safe to express them, the dialogue becomes less intense and more rational.
The best two words in any negotiation are “that’s right”:
- The other person feels they were heard.
- Keep listening and working hard to summarize their answers.
- You’ve been able to communicate what haven’t said, but were thinking or feeling.
4. Brainstorm a mutually beneficial solution
Do not compromise your own limits:
- Never deviate from the things you absolutely need.
- However, never start with what you need, but what you want.
- Start from absolutely everything you want that they can reasonably provide, then concede your way backward.
Brainstorm possible solutions together:
- Assume that undiscovered options exist.
- Mutual gain will only come in a “third option” that someone hasn’t thought of yet.
- Identify any available human, financial, technical, and organizational resources.
- More answers lie in the future, not the past, so think closely on future opportunities that affect the deal today.
- To broaden the possibilities further, open yourself to possibly changing and ask how far they’d be willing to change.
- Stay curious in difficult situations.
- Our natural instinct in conflict is to abandon curiosity and dehumanize others.
- Stay focused on answers, not problems.
- If you need, postpone the discussion to give yourself more time to think.
Great deals come from having and appearing to have leverage:
- Whoever says “I want” has less leverage than the other one, since the other person has the means to withhold or give that thing.
- Negotiation is a psychological battle of certainty.
- The person who flinches first to the uncertainty will sacrifice more.
- Even when someone is entirely certain, you know things they can’t possibly know.
- Ask open-ended questions to provoke thought.
- Their answers will tire them out and show everything they really know.
- It’s not to show them your point of view, but to erode confidence in theirs.
- Ask questions the other party can respond to but has no fixed answers:
- You buy time to internalize what you’re observing.
- You keep them in control of the dialogue (and therefore important).
- They’re not aware of how little they really know.
For every negative emotion you observe, give a positive and compassionate solution that could serve your benefits as well.
A conflict grows worse in several directions:
- Escalation – increasing back-and-forth negativity
- Soften your tone.
- Acknowledge their point of view.
- Invalidation – painful insults
- Accept their feelings as entirely valid.
- Respect their feelings and concerns, even if you don’t agree with them.
- Negative Interpretations – falsely perceiving others’ motives
- Reconsider what you believe of their motives.
- Push yourself to look for evidence that doesn’t fit your conclusion.
- Withdrawal/Avoidance – unwilling to commit to essential discussions
- Realize how much and how far you need others.
- Communicate the need for space and clarify when you want to discuss the matter again.
No matter what, don’t press it if the conflict gets worse:
- Disagreements always connect to feelings, so pressing your case won’t prove anything.
- Take your time, and learn to use silence to your advantage.
- If you’re yelling, you’ve already lost the argument because you feel out of control.
- Always be prepared to walk away, either to cool down temporarily or permanently disengage.
- Sometimes everyone must calm down before anyone can behave rationally again.
- You’re likely angry, but avoid saying offhanded remarks as you leave that could sabotage future discussion.
- Back off and approach the discussion again when the person is less angry.
We prepared for a non-negotiation:
- While the worst-case scenario is a last resort you don’t want to explore, it’s always a possibility.
- Start considering your backup plans if you see them resisting.
- If they don’t want a resolution, don’t force a negotiation.
- Include a third party to mediate or arbitrate.
- Until the conflict is over, always be prepared to walk away from it.
- No deal is better than a bad deal.
- Never hold yourself to an agreement they haven’t agreed to yet.
- Never compromise your standards or values.
- Many severe situations may require you to take legal action.
Even if you feel immensely for their situation, never compromise backward beyond your BATNA.
5. Sell the best decision
If you find a workable answer, know beforehand how to decide:
- Since people value their freedom, decide as sparingly as possible.
- There are 4 possible forms of making a decision:
- Commanding, which will almost certainly burn most friendships if not done carefully.
- Consult, which will only work if you legitimately consider their opinions.
- Vote, which removes any legitimate power you may have unless you’re part of the majority view.
- State the full natural consequences of various options, with your preferred option as the first or last one.
- Consensus, which is great when it’s possible, but is only effective in specific situations.
Be careful giving ultimatums:
- An ultimatum bonds that agreement to your word and creates 3 possibilities:
- They accept the offer.
- They don’t accept the offer and the deal is off.
- They don’t accept the offer and you must humiliate yourself.
- If you want a tactful ultimatum, use a heavily emotional appeal.
- Give a personal and factual anecdote why you need something accomplished on their end (e.g., you want that thing to give your dying mother).
- The anecdote must be true, or you’re outright lying.
- You’re intensifying something you may not have felt that strongly about, but nobody can argue against it.
- Give a personal and factual anecdote why you need something accomplished on their end (e.g., you want that thing to give your dying mother).
People typically need to say “no”, so don’t take it personally:
- “No” is how we maintain the way things always have been, which means they feel unsafe and need to assert control.
- Getting them to say “no” about something increases the chances they’ll say “yes” later.
- The easiest form is to get them to say “no” to an obvious question about something that affects both of you the same way (e.g., “Do you want our kids to fail?”).
- We tend to hear “no” as “no, in every way”, but it has many alternative meanings:
- Give them freedom to say it, without any risk of judgment.
- Keep listening to them to see what version of “no” they’re using, then try to meet them where they’re at.
Don’t say “no” directly:
- You can usually bring out more shared dialogue by showing skepticism.
- Frame your rejection as a question to force the discussion to bring more dialogue.
- You’re communicating that you want to resolve the conflict, but need their intelligence to solve it.
- Only ask “what”, “how” and sometimes “why”, but nothing else:
- “What about this is important to you? What do you stand to gain from this?”
- “How can I help make this better for us?”
- “How would you like me to proceed?”
- “What is it that brought us to this situation?”
- “How can we solve this problem?”
- “What’s the objective? / What are we trying to accomplish here?”
- “How am I supposed to do that?”
- Asking questions forces them to have empathy for your side.
If you want, postpone deadlines to give as much time to sort things out:
- Time constraints force us to accept less favorable results.
- You can often win most conflicts merely through patience.
- On the other hand, if the other person is more easily excitable than you are, you can often exploit the urgency of a situation.
When they say “yes”, it’s not always an agreement:
- People sometimes say “yes” because they want to say “no”, but “yes” is an easier escape from the dialogue (i.e., a high-pressure sales pitch).
- Don’t trust a counterfeit “yes”, and treat it as a very polite “no”.
- Other times, people simply say “yes” because it’s a habitual reaction because they’re agreeable.
- In this situation, they don’t agree with what you’re proposing, but want to get along with you.
- A confirmation “yes” means you can often come to a sincere “yes”, but it’s nothing by itself.
- “I’ll try” means they expect to fail, so it’s unacceptable.
- The “yes” you want is a clear commitment they feel responsible for.
- To get them to say “yes” as a commitment, they must feel it.
Bring an offer:
- Ideally, they should be delivering the offer you want as if it were their idea.
- Use “I” and “We” more than “You” or “They”.
- Your offer should make them feel they’ll come out ahead relative to you by agreeing.
- Depending on the information you provide about your best interests, they’ll be disgusted or happy with your offer.
- They must believe that they’ll concretely lose something if there’s no deal.
- If you’re confident in your solution, set the standard by making the first offer.
- Communicate it as a tentative arrangement, which permits them to explore a counter-offer.
- If you’re bold, go for an absolutely ridiculous offer to throw them off.
- When you throw down a dramatic offer, they’ll counter with a dramatic offer as well.
- Name the price or conditions that are vastly favorable to your end that someone else has for them right now (e.g., set your service price at $20,000 because others do it for that price, even though you’d go for $10,000).
- If you have more power liberally set the offer above what you want, but if they have more power than you set it near your BATNA.
- Place your target price beforehand, which is comfortably away from your worst-case expectations.
- e.g., if they’re offering $200 and you know its market value is $150, set your target at $141.
- e.g., if the market value for what you’re selling is $1,000, set your target at $1,067.
- Set your first offer at 65% if you’re buying, 135% if you’re selling.
- When buying, multiply the target by 2/3 (e.g., set the first offer to $93).
- When selling, multiply the target by 1.5 (e.g., set the first offer to $1,583).
- Calculate 3 more increments that move toward your target price:
- 85%, 95%, and 100%
- 115%, 105%, 100%
- To make the math easy, divide the difference between the target and extreme number by 7:
- The first difference is 4 increments, the second is 2, the third is 1.
- (e.g., $48 in the first example becomes ~$6.85, so the first difference is 4x at ~$27, the second is half that at ~$14, and the third is the rest: $119, $133, and $141).
- (e.g., $516 in the second example becomes ~$74, so the first difference is 4x at ~$295, the second is half that at ~147, and the third is the rest: $1,288, $1,141, and $1,067).
- The first difference is 4 increments, the second is 2, the third is 1.
- Use lots of empathy and many different ways of saying “no” to get the other side to counter-offer, then hesitate and show unease before you change your offer.
- Use round numbers on the second round to imply that those numbers aren’t fixed.
- e.g., they counter after a story of their family with $160, give empathy and think for a while, then set the second offer for $120.
- e.g., they say the budget won’t allow it, so they’re offering $800, so look like you’re thinking hard, then set your second offer for $1,280.
- On the final round of calculating, use precise numbers to give more credibility to the number (e.g., $1,067 versus $1,070).
- Show that you’re at your limit by throwing in a nonmonetary item they probably won’t want.
- People who haggle will often pay more for an item, but the relative comparison of value will make them feel like it was a better deal.
Explicitly clarify any agreement:
- Tell them exact results you desire, with numbers when possible.
- If they are at all uncomfortable, hold yourself to numbers as well.
- Be completely honest about what you can and can’t do.
- With the agreement, make sure each person is responsible for themselves and nobody else.
- Make performance standards and agree on a future time and date to evaluate everything.
- Put everything in writing, and have everyone sign if there’s any distrust whatsoever.
Later, check in on the agreement
That person’s attitude will tell you long before you see them again whether they’re honoring the agreement or believe you’re maintaining your end.
As tempting as it is, don’t confront them before the agreed-upon date:
- By nagging, you’ll likely demotivate them to do things differently.
- Instead, make plans to address their non-compliance.
If they want to create the results you want, be gracious toward their efforts.
Always honor your commitments, and explicitly communicate anytime the situation changes.
Make conflicts with a purpose
When you become effective at conflicts, it’s easy to engage with them whenever you want.
The only noble and worthwhile conflicts are driven by love for others:
- You must go easy on others, since we are all fragile, hurt people, irrespective of what we’ve done.
- Even if we don’t love our opponents, we must respect them in their position.
Don’t worry about “winning”, since getting an okay (but not great) deal very frequently builds relationships in the process, and you can always revisit the situation after enough time passes.