How do you turn Adversaries into Allies by Roz Usheroff

“The sages asked, “Who is mighty? ” and answered, “Those who can control their own emotions and make of an enemy a friend.”

from Bob Burg’s new book “Adversaries into Allies: Win people over without manipulation or coercion

I have a voracious appetite for reading, and though my busy travel schedule does from time-to-time provide me with the opportunity to indulge my passion, I find that there are far too many books that occupy my shelf space than they do my eye space.

However, Bob Burg’s latest book Adversaries into Allies caught my attention for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the subsequent tagline “win people over without manipulation or coercion.”

I touched on this point in principle in my recent 2-Part series “Is your brand your most powerful negotiating tool,” referencing the fact that when dealing with partners or stakeholders we far too often assume an adversarial you don’t get what you deserve you get what you negotiate mindset.  This is certainly the antithesis of my assertion that “the strength of your position is not based upon learning the latest negotiating techniques to outsmart the other party but, rests in your ability to demonstrate your value to them in terms of helping them to achieve their goals.”

The key is to find the all-important balance between serving the interests of others while still realizing tangible and meaningful benefits for yourself.

As usual, this reminded me of a recent story I heard from the world of social media.

An enterprising young woman started a group on one of the social networking sites promoting garage sales in her city.  To cover her costs for setting up and managing the group, where people who were planning to have a garage sale could post information on the site, she charged an annual fee of $25 per member.  It certainly wasn’t a great deal of money, and there was no shortage of people who signed up to not only tell the community about their sale but also check to see when others were holding one as well.  Suffice to say it was a popular group.

One day a person posted a comment on the group site indicating that they could not understand why the woman was charging a $25 fee.  After all it did not cost money to join the network, so why should it cost money to join the group?

Rather than defending her position by providing a detailed overview of the time and effort it took to maintain the site, the young woman asked her detractor the following question; “I see that you are a real estate agent.  Do you charge people for selling a house?”

The person questioning the $25 fee said “of course.”

“Why” asked the young woman?

Somewhat perplexed the other woman answered “because I provide a service that requires my time and energy, and so I should be paid for my services.”

“I understand” said the young woman.  “Should I not receive compensation for taking the initiative to set-up and maintain this site so that people can quickly and easily find out when and where garage sales are taking place in our community?”

The answer of course was obvious.

Now this is a simple example of how the young woman rather than responding in a confrontational or adversarial manner – that would have likely escalated the discussion in a negative fashion – chose instead to help the other person to view her position in the context of that person’s own experience.  In essence, she created empathy through greater understanding.

The question I have for you is “how do you deal with an adversary?”

Do you become offended and/or defensive, or do you patiently listen and try to understand what the person is saying and why they are saying it?

How you react at this early critical stage will set the tone for how you deal with an adversary, and ultimately your ability to turn them into an ally.

Abraham Lincoln I-destroy-my-enemy



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One response to “How do you turn Adversaries into Allies by Roz Usheroff”

  1. piblogger says :

    Reblogged this on Procurement Insights and commented:

    Editor’s Note: Given today’s post on the Bruce Atyeo lawsuit with the Canadian Government, Roz Usheroff’s article on how to deal with an adversary seems timely.

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