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What Will You Learn In Today’s Episode

  • Using humor can go a long way in de-escalating conflict, provided that we use it with good judgment.
  • Being a friend and a mentor to your counterparty, especially if they are younger than you, can help you a great deal down the road.
  • Matching emotions is a great way to deal with interpersonal relationships.
  • Sometimes we may need to cut people off from our lives to resolve repeating conflicts.
  • Reconciliation is not always the goal in conflict because you won’t be able to reconcile with certain people even when you have followed the four factors to navigate conflict.
  • Bringing calm to the situation and demonstrating genuine empathy towards the counterparty can help you de-escalate conflict and bring light to some of the dark situations.

Executive Summary

Hey guys! Thanks for joining us on another episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Jay Payleitner, a bestselling author and national speaker on a myriad of topics, including conflict resolution. If you haven’t already checked out Part A of this show, be sure to do that first.

Now, without any further delay, let’s get started.

Using Humor Can Go A Long Way In De-Escalating Conflict

Right off the bat, Nolan highlights the 14 conflict resolution skills that Jay talks about in his book, Don’t Take the Bait to Escalate: Conflict Is Inevitable. Being a Jerk Is Optional and asks him to elaborate on a few skills that are an absolute must when it comes to de-escalating conflict.

In reply, Jay emphasizes the importance of using humor in conversations while negotiating to lighten up the mood and bring calm to the situation. To validate his point, he gives us the example of a Russian delegate from his book who jokes about communism and capitalism during a tense negotiation with his American counterpart.

Having said that, we must ensure that we are using humor judiciously and not in the middle of desperate and tough negotiations; otherwise, it could backfire.

Be A Mentor To Those Younger Than You

Next, Jay discusses another fascinating conflict resolution skill: “Give kids a break.”

Sometimes when you are negotiating with someone younger than you or brand new to his job, make sure you don’t crush them with your negotiation skills. Instead, be a mentor to him, maybe separately talk to them about what’s important and help them get a good deal for their company.

This way, you could make him your friend, be it your supplier or distributor, whoever you’re dealing with there. So, instead of winning that negotiation, maybe take a step back and let the other side win a little bit, especially if they’re younger than you.

Matching Emotions Is A Great Way To Deal With Interpersonal Relationships

Another conflict resolution skill that Jay highlights from his book in this podcast is “Match their emotions.” If your spouse is sad about a problem and comes to you with it, it would mean a great deal to them if you are sad with them for a while instead of fixing the problem right away and being ignorant of their feelings.

Jay then goes on to cite the verse from the good book, “Weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh,” to further substantiate his point.

Therefore, if they’re laughing, laugh with them. If they’re crying, cry with them. If they’re angry, be angry with them. You’d be surprised how that settles the room so that you can get back on the same page. This concept works especially well in interpersonal relationships.

Sometimes It’s Crucial To Cut People Loose To De-Escalate Conflict

Moving on, Aram asks for Jay’s advice in dealing with repeating conflict. In reply, Jay suggests that sometimes we may need to cut people off from our lives to resolve repeating conflicts.

Now, you don’t want to make such a decision on a whim; you would want to give it some thought and get some good counsel. But at some point, you will have to let the other party know that it’s not working and that you need to go another direction. That said, ensure that you have given the other party a fair chance before cutting them loose.

Subsequently, Jay mentions that reconciliation is not always the goal in conflict because you won’t be able to reconcile with certain people. Sometimes the conflict will remain in their heads even if you’ve done your part (decide what you want, know the risks, empathize with your adversary, and expect the win), so it’s best to cut them loose. God will open the doors to better relationships.

When In Conflict, It’s Important To Bring Calm To The Situation

Since Jay’s worldview is heavily influenced by the Bible, he follows the teachings of Jesus Christ whenever he is involved in a conflict. He asks us to strive to bring calm to the situation and demonstrate genuine empathy towards the counterparty. That way, you can go a long way in de-escalating conflict and bringing a lot more light to some of the dark situations.

Jay, Aram, and Nolan discuss a lot more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this very informational podcast episode.

Thank you for listening.


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Jay Payleitner, a bestselling author and national speaker on a myriad of topics, including conflict resolution. If you haven't already checked out part A of this show, be sure to do that first. Now, let's jump into conversation with Jay.

Well, I kind of wanna move into the 14 conflict skills that you cover in the book, and I'll quickly highlight them. I don't think we're gonna get through all of them, but maybe you can give us like two to three of the skills when it comes to de-escalation, which someone might use. But the skills are: i) active listening ii) Use encouraging language iii) Watch your tone and body language iv) Apply humor v) Give kids a break, vi) Shine light in the shadows, vii) Match their emotions. viii) Don't just paint over it. ix) Recognize the barriers to reconciliation, x) one-on-one reconciliation, xi) Skip revenge xii) Terminate toxicity, and xiii) Know thine enemy

So, of those, two to three, what skills do you think are most important for people to, when it comes to deescalation?

Skills That One Should Learn To Help De-escalate Conflict [2:19]

Jay Payleitner : Well, the first ones we started with their active listening and body language and using encouraging language. You friends and listeners, all kind of know those already, but they may be afraid to use humor. Now, in the middle of a desperate, tough negotiation that could backfire on you. But if you do it the right way and maybe start trying to bring some humor in early on, then you start the negotiation. How are you doing today? Well, you know what? It's good hair or it's a bad hair day, or you know make a little joke like, we're in this together kind of a thing.

I love the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis back in 1962. Some listeners may know that from the history books, I was just five years old at the time, I guess, so I don't remember it, but JFK, John Kennedy had to get those missiles out, those nuclear missiles out of Cuba. They weren't there yet so they blockaded the whole deal. But this is what, a conversation that happened in the negotiation in the middle of this tense negotiation, Americans and Soviets, a Russian delegate, stood up and said, Do you know what? I'm gonna do my Russian accent now. Is it okay?

NM : That's fine.

JP : You know, what is the difference between capitalism and communism? He says, “In capitalism, man exploits man, in communism, it is the other way around.”

Aram Donigian :

JP : And you know, I don't know if that stopped World War III from, you know, starting, but let's give that, that Russian delegates credit for bringing some humor to the situation. And you're laughing, I'm laughing. So that's again, one of the stories in the book is that if you bring some humor to the situation, you'll come out ahead most of the time. But again, that could backfire on you.

Another warning would be in negotiations, sometimes if you're negotiating, some of you pros out there who've been doing this for a long time. There's the kid on the other side who is a new intern or a brand new to his job. You could crush him with your negotiation skills. Well, maybe don't do that. Maybe be a mentor to him, maybe separately talk to him about what's really important and help him get a good deal for his company. And you might have a friend, whatever, your supplier or distributor, whoever you're dealing with there. You might have a friend for life.

So, instead of being, you know, winning that negotiation, maybe take a step back and let the other side win a little bit, especially if they're younger than you. And the other is, match their emotions, that's a really interesting concept. And I tell the story, I was a junior in high school, either of you guys wrestle any you guys?

AD : I did, yeah.

NM : Me too

JP : So, I was a junior in high school. I was the captain of the JV wrestling team, which is not a big deal. When you're a junior in high school, you're supposed to be on the Varsity team. But I actually went to a tournament and I got first place in the JV tournament my junior year. Again, not a big deal, but I, they gave me a little trophy and I was like, oh, okay, that's fine. It was a good day for Jay. And this is back before cell phones and my folks made it to most of my wrestling tournaments.

But I came home that day, showed my dad this little trophy. And again, I'm a junior. My dad, he's trying to encourage me, trying to be a good dad. What does he say? He says, “Well, maybe next year you can get a Varsity trophy.”

AD :

JP : Like what? That's like, just, that's crushing to a, you know, to a 17-year old kid, like I was back then. Okay, so what should he have done? He should have matched my emotions. I was having a good day. He should have said, well, that's great, tell me about the last match or oh, that's great! I wish I could have been there and, and connected with me and matched emotions. If your wife comes to you with a problem or your spouse comes to you with a problem and is sad about it, you wanna fix it, maybe. But no, be sad with her. Be sad with him for a while. If your daughter comes and says oh, I got into this, I got an acceptance letter from this university. And you go, “Well, shoot. I wanted her to go to my alma mater.”

AD : I wanted her to go to Harvard or some big or better school. No, she's happy. She got that acceptance letter from that school. Be happy with her in the moment. So, match emotions, that great scripture verse says, “Weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh.” That is a great….

So, if you're in negotiations with somebody and they're all angry, you can go ahead and get angry with them. But if you're copacetic and being cool, be cool with them. Matching emotions is a really great way to deal with interpersonal relationships. And it goes both sides. If they're laughing, laugh with them. If they're crying, cry with them. If they're angry, be angry with them. You'd be surprised how that settles the room and so that you can get back on the same page.

AD : So Jay, as we were getting ready to start recording, I shared that I got six kids. You have five and I have one daughter who is a teenager, another one about ready to become a teenager. I feel like I'm struggling as a father, as starting to navigate these teenage waters. Is that the skill that's most important? Or what advice, what other advice would you give to me?

JP : Yeah, that's actually, you're right. That's a great connection there. If you can match her emotions, she's gonna come to you with a problem and you say, “Sweetheart, I'm hurting for you”, kind of thing. She, you know, tries out for auditions for a play, or doesn't win the election for the school class president or something, “Man, I was really, I'm hurting for you, sweetheart.” That helps that tremendous versus blowing it off, that kind of thing. But, um, uh, if you got a teenage daughter who probably sat in your lap right when she was eight years old, nine years old, 10 years old, 11 years old, but at some point, she's not gonna sit in your lap anymore. At some point, at about that 12-year age, she's not gonna, and your reaction might be to push her away.

Say, Okay, well if you're gonna sit in my lap, I'm not gonna give you the time of day and that kind of thing. And it puts the divide there. But instead, keep….you don't have to say, come sit in my lap, cuz she's not gonna do that. She's not gonna want to. But when she's 18, you'll be surprised, she'll come home from college, she'll be missing dad, and she's gonna come sit in your lap.

Believe it or not, when she's 18 years old and says, dad, you're awesome. If you continue to empathize, pour into her life, show up. She's gonna keep some secrets from you and that's okay. You need to keep her safe, but let her make mistakes. Hold her accountable. And when she comes to you with a problem, your attitude needs to be I love you, it's gonna be okay, we'll get through this together. It's almost like I want you to say that I love you. It'll be okay. We'll get through this together. That's what your attitude needs to be. And we could test that. Why don't you say that I love you. It'll be okay. We'll get through this together. Aram, say that.

AD : I love you. It's gonna be okay. We'll get through this together.

JP : We're gonna test that now, okay? Dad, dad I wrecked the car.

AD : Honey, I love you. It's gonna be okay, we’ll get through this together.

JP : Then maybe repercussions, maybe, you know, maybe you bought the car and you’re paying her insurance. Maybe she's gotta pay her own insurance now or maybe the car's, you know, gone. Dad, I'm in jail.

JP : It'll be okay. We'll get through this together. And if it's, maybe your daughter or your son, maybe they need to stay in jail overnight. If it's a local cop and you know them, if it's downtown. “Dad, I'm pregnant.” “I love you. It'll be okay. We'll get through this together”, because you do love them. Yeah, It will be okay. The world might give them the wrong advice. You need to make sure that they're coming to you. You need to make sure they're coming to you with their problems. And they need to know that when they come to dad with a problem, he's not gonna go raww raww. He's gonna go, I love you. It'll be okay. And we'll get through this together.

AD : Since we're on, we're gonna keep doing this. This has now become Aram’s Personal Coaching Session provided by Jay. I want to dig in one more cuz one of your skills was recognizing the barriers to reconciliation. And in that, if I, if I had this right, a lot of this was about kind of repeat conflicts, the kind of the thorn in the side that continues to stay there. And, you know, I can get one or two relationships that are really that way and they've just kind of been there. I would love you to say a little bit more, maybe provide some advice, when that's the case, right? This isn't, this isn't a one time thing. This is actually something that's reoccurring. And what do you suggest in terms of approaching those situations where there's a, there's a history.

How To Reconcile With Someone With Whom You Have A History Of Conflict [10:51]

JP : If there's a history of conflict with somebody, and it could be, again, it could be a personal family relationship, it could be somebody in business. I think it behooves us to go back and think about what our part is in this. Because I know that Nolan has his act together. Never, it never pushes anybody, anybody's. But Aram, I know you and I you know, we have, we have character flaws, we have things that we make mistakes on. And so we need to dig down sometimes and go, Man, you know what, maybe they have a point. Maybe I need to listen better.

Sometimes you gotta cut people loose. If they continue to be jerks over and over and over again, you say, “Listen, we're not doing business with them anymore.” And sometimes that's the best choice to make.

So you can't make this on a whim, but you, what you wanna do is give, get some good counsel, spend some thoughtful time about it maybe, give one last chance, some kind of ultimatum kind of thing. But not in an ultimatum way, but more in a, you know what friend this isn't working out this way, instead of we have to do it this way! It's like, this isn't working out. I need to go another direction. But can we just give this one more shot here again, admitting that maybe, you know what maybe I haven't given you the best chance.

There are words you can use, phrases you can use, that are gonna deescalate the situation versus just pouring gasoline on it. And you know what? When it's, whether it's with your kids or with your spouse, you know the words you're gonna say before you even say, and that they're gonna tick that person off. You know that you're gonna be divisive. It's like when I walked in the front door, this is a little bit, a little bit ago now. I said, oh, sweetheart, to my wife, they opened a new women's fitness center down the street. What am I an idiot? Or sweetheart, you know, those mugs you bought they don't fit in the dishwasher. That's like saying, you're so stupid for buying these mugs or how much was that haircut again that you had?

You know, why do we do that? We know before we say things in our marriage, in our relationships, even before we say them, that they're gonna, they're gonna cause explosion. Now, maybe you get off on that. Maybe you just really enjoy, you know, stirring the pot if that's your personality, then go for it. But know that there will be repercussions.

AD : Yeah.

NM : All right, so Jay, so continue with that. Is reconciliation always the goal when there's been conflict?

Jay Explains Whether or Not Reconciliation Is Always The Goal In Conflict? [13:03]

JP : No, because sometimes you won't be able to reconcile. Sometimes that conflict's gonna go on because it's in their heads. You've done your part. I mean, you've done that first part of the four factors. You have decided what you really want, what you really want, and you know that this relationship, whether there's a business relationship or whatever that you're not gonna get that. You're not gonna get what you really need. So, I'm gonna cut you loose.

And there's, you know, a biblical application that would say that sometimes you go back two or three times to your brother. And if they're a complete jerk, and that's not, you know, that's not, I'm paraphrasing scripture now, but if they're a complete jerk and won't, won't give in, cut 'em loose, man. And it might break your heart and you might lose a valuable customer. But, um, don't be surprised if you cut.If you have a terrible customer who's always causing problems, if you go back and think, Well, we made a million bucks off them last year, but we did a million and a half dollars worth of lawyers fees or time lost kind of thing. And don't be surprised if all your staff says, start applying. We don't have to work with XYZ company anymore. That's fantastic. And you go on. And, and God opens the door to even better, uh, better relationships, business relationships.

AD : Yeah. A bad deal can be worse than a no deal. Jay, your worldview on conflict is obviously heavily influenced by the Bible and what it has to say about conflict and, and conflict transformation, reconciliation. Could you share some examples of how you see Jesus modeling different conflict management approaches?

Biblical Approach To Managing Conflict [14:41] 

JP : Well, yes. If you have some friend who knows a little bit about the Bible or a little bit about Jesus and they get angry all the time, and you say, and you say to them, You know what? You gotta, you gotta, you're angry. You gotta work on that. You'll say, well, Jesus got angry, he turned over the tables in the temple of whom the money changers. And then you can say, Well, first you're not Jesus, second he, that was a righteous anger cuz we know that, you know, sometimes we need to, anger is a good thing. Sometimes you need to get angry, but it's righteous if there's something behind it. And third, we don't think about that. But that turn of events there when he's turning over the tables that really set the Pharisees off and set them in action.

And that was the beginning of the end for Jesus' ministry and sent him to the cross. We won't go there. But actually a better example is John Chapter VIII, when he, when he draws in the sand, uh, many of you listeners may know this story. The Pharisees come up with a woman caught in adultery and they say, hey Jesus, again, I'm paraphrasing Jesus. The old law clearly says that we're supposed to stone this woman and we're gonna stone her right here and now. And Jesus, uh, doesn't do a 20-minute lecture. Instead he leans over and, and starts drawing in the sand. We don't know what he draws. It could be maybe he's drawing the writing the old laws, maybe he's writing the new laws, maybe he's writing the sins of the Pharisees down.

JP : And then he gives everybody time. He brings some calm to the situation. What a concept that is, if you're in conflict, bring calm to the situation. Um, so he brings some calm and then stands up and says, Well, whichever review has not sinned, well go ahead and throw the first stone. And that hits him right between the eyes, of course. And interestingly enough, the older Pharisees walk away first the Bible tells us, and then the younger ones like, I wanna still, I'm gonna still, I wanna throw that rock. I wanna do they, well, no, they eventually walk away too.

But again, maybe the punchline of this whole thing is that Jesus spoke truth, brought calm to the situation and then turned to the woman who was still there and said, you know what? They don't condemn you and neither do I. Then, he gives instructions, go and sin no more get your, get your act together. There's something about you that still has victory in you. Go claim that victory. Go and sin no more.

So, that's a pretty good synopsis of one way to deal with conflict is to bring calm to the situation. Let people think it through, bring some truth to the situation and maybe a little love and empathy as well. So, that's where I'm coming from. Aram, thanks for letting me tell that story.

AD : Yeah, thanks. I love those three points you just made. We'll make sure that we hit those again when we kind of close up. You know, specifically as a parent now of adult children, as a grandparent, as a foster parent, how do you hope, you know, again, looking at the world around us, a little conflict, how do you hope these next generations are being impacted? Both by your example around conflict and also the work, the writing that you're doing on the topic?

JP : Well, let's be real clear. I can write about these things and I can do some research that can speak the truth, but I mess up all the time.

AD : No, no.

NM :

AD : We wouldn't have had you on the program if we knew that.

JP : Well, I speak too fast and I go and I lose my train of thought. We all know that. We've already experienced that today, but I hope that they see that. I hope they see someone who apologizes when I mess up. I hope they see someone who brings calm to the storm. I hope they see somebody who they can come to because I love them. It'll be okay. I know in the long run that my family is gonna stay together and I'll join 'em in heaven, it'll be okay.

And that we'll get through this together. You gotta sometimes put all your cards on the table folks and say, “Listen, here's where I am, here's what my needs are, can you help me with this?” Boy, that's a pretty good, pretty good phrase too. If you go into a negotiation, say, I need your help on this, versus ah, I'm gonna, you know, beat the snot outta you. I need your help with this. Even a tough negotiator is gonna go, Oh, I can help this guy. So, there you go.

AD : Nolan, that sounds like advice you and I were just discussing on another topic, which, which we won't raise, but another negotiation prep in terms of a great, a great expression, right? A way, a way to demonstrate humility and need. So….

NM : Absolutely. Now that's great and great insight as we start to wrap up today's conversation. Jay, is there anything else that we didn't ask you that you wanna make sure that we cover?

JP : Well, no, I guess, I need to kind of apologize cause we jumped all over the place and I was telling my stories, but here's the thought. Maybe we need to bring light to the darkness. Boy, it just seems like this world's got a little burden right now. Too much conflict, too much. Not even listening to each other's side, we get into these silos and I think there's a business terminology we know these days, but we just talk to people who think just like us, we're getting into silos. We, and we never listen to the other side. And when some truth sneaks over from another silo and jumps into our silo, we go, “Oh, that's hate speech.”, that kind of thing.

No, there's this darkness. There's a cloud coming over here and Aram and Nolan, if you and I and a few of your listeners can bring a little more light, a little more smiles, a little more thoughtfulness, a little empathy, then we can make the world around us a better place. And when it's not so hard to get up in the morning. So that would be my takeaway and my thoughts. I think we've kind of covered a bunch of stuff here. So again, thanks for letting me share.

NM : Oh, absolutely. And thank you so much for taking the time to join us to have these conversations and really learned a lot today. And yeah, so now I kind of wanna kick it over to a, to get final thoughts and takeaways from today's episode.

Final Takeaways [20:27]

AD : Yeah, I just wanna, so I wanna point out Jay's book again, which is Don't Take The Bait To Escalate, I highly recommend it. I mean, I hope you all enjoyed hearing from Jay as much as I know I did and I got a lot out of it. I love you. It's gonna be okay. We're gonna get through this together, I'm practicing it today, Jay.

I think the thing I want to maybe emphasize, and again, a lot of great points is I like the description of if I can bring calm to a situation, if I can speak truth and truth around needs mine and yours, truth around, you know, a precedent or a good direction that, you know, what's the direction we wanna go forward, but truth. And then if I can demonstrate genuine empathy and really connect with someone, if we all practice that, I think we bring a lot more light to some of these dark situations. So Jay, again, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us.

JP : My privilege, keep doing what you're doing guys, encourage your listeners some of these truths they can use on the job. That might be why they're tuning in. But if you can bring it to your Thanksgiving dinner table or you would be so, Cause we separate that sometimes and you know what? We're who we are. We're whole people. So again, thank you so much, uh, keep at it.

NM : Thanks for listening to us on the NegotiateX podcast. Greatly appreciate it. If you could please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast, it would help us out.

If you have any consulting engagements, you need to speak to a conference, you need to speak to a company, Aram and I do that, we love to do it. Please just reach out to me at nolan@negotiatex.com and we'll be sure to follow up with you. Thanks for listening. We'll catch you in the next episode.

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