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Choose Your Battles Wisely

I am sure that you have all heard the expression “choose your battles wisely”? It generally means don’t take on arguments that you can’t win and I would add to that, “don’t take on battles that you don’t need to win.” We all know people who have to have the last word who think it’s their way or no way at all. If you let yourself get caught up in these games, the chances of deterioration into an unpleasant engagement are quite high.

Some people play the game by being aggressive; others use something more akin to a chess game – they will say something that will distract you from the point and send you into defending yourself. Learning how to deflect insults is a skill worth learning – acknowledge it for what it is and let it go – “I hear what you are saying but I would like to get back to the point we are here to resolve.” Or you could try, ”That’s a conversation for another day – let’s sort this one out today.”

In other words, stick to the goal that you were trying to achieve in the first place and don’t rise to the bait of being distracted. Some of the best negotiators will be working to get to the ‘bottom line’ – what does the other person really want, what are they really concerned with. If you can focus on that, output will be a good one.

A couple of tips for you.

It’s not worth engaging when:

• There’s a low probability of winning without doing excessive damage
• On reflection, winning isn’t as important as you first thought
• You know that down the line you will have a better opportunity to resolve the issue
• You could win on the immediate issue but damage the long term relationship.

Above all take some time to get clarity about what actually matters to you and recognise when you have ventured down the path that will lead to fighting yet another battle. Noticing what you are doing is the starting point to sorting yourself out – realising that you are part of the problem is a light bulb moment. Life is a much more relaxed place when you are not geared up for a fight every day!

Penny Whitelock F(Inst)LM

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