ASO 2 Kwame | Confidence In Conflict

Finding Confidence In Conflict With Kwame Christian

Most people approach business deals extremely carefully to steer clear of any arguments. But sometimes, there is confidence in conflict – as long as they are handled the right way. Lance Tyson sits down with Kwame Christian, President and CEO of the American Negotiation Institute, who talks about his strategies in finding opportunities even in the most serious conflicts. He explains why emotions must be set aside during business negotiation to yield the best results for both parties. Kwame also discusses the ideal way to handle artificial harmony and why being results-oriented is much better than simply being politically correct.

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Finding Confidence In Conflict With Kwame Christian

I’m excited about this episode. With me, I have Kwame Christian, who is a professor, bestselling author, contributor to Forbes, and President and CEO of the American Negotiation Institute, which happens to be in my hometown. We figured this out not too long ago that we live close together. We are in Columbus, Ohio. Kwame, welcome to the program.

Lance, this is great to be here. Thanks for having me.

You have a background and you have won awards as a lawyer. You went through law school, which is grueling in and of itself, I can imagine. You decide to go for four years and you add on almost the same amount of time. Now you are in this space where you run an organization that trains, consults, and coaches all kinds of firms on negotiation. Talk to me about that journey. I’m curious. I have never even asked you this question before.

It is a wild journey, Lance. I started off studying Psychology. I was fascinated with the way the brain works. Somewhere along the line, I lost my way and I stumbled into law school. That is another story. One of the things was when I was younger, I was a people pleaser. I wasn’t good at self-advocacy, standing up for myself, and having difficult conversations.

When I got to law school, I happened to find myself in a Negotiation class. The only reason I took the Negotiation class was because it fit into my schedule. I said, “Let’s do this.” I fell in love immediately for two reasons. Number one, it was the first time I saw Psychology while in law school. I said, “I see the clear connection,” so that was interesting. Number two, as a people pleaser, I realized for the first time ever that standing up for yourself, having difficult conversations, and being persuasive, all of those things are skills, not talents. I can learn them and get better.

They had negotiation competitions at the school so I said, “Let’s do this.” I partnered up with a friend, and we won the competition at Ohio State. That gave us an opportunity to represent the school at the American Bar Association Regional Competition in Ottawa, Ontario. We won that competition too. We made it to the semifinals of the national competition in New Orleans. I was like, “I’m hooked.” For me, it was life-changing because I said, “I’m a completely different person now.”

The way that I interact with people, the way I stand up for myself, everything is different. No matter what I do and I don’t know what that future is, I want to be able to help other people have this type of transformation. I don’t know what that looks like but I know that it is going to be my thing. It was always me angling toward that. I didn’t see the opportunity to join an organization or anything like that that had it. I had to build it myself.

There is a ton to unpack there. I need to go backward. The first question, I always believe there are two types of people in the world. The type of person who walks into a room and the whole room lightens up. There is also the type of person when they walk out of the room, and the whole room lightens up. You said, “I was a people pleaser.” I’m curious. People pleasers are good people skills.

I was both. I had good people skills. People liked me. I was likable, but, as we know, there is a difference between being liked and being respected. It was easy for me to be liked. When it came to standing up for myself, I was always putting other people’s needs first but not in the chivalrous, admirable type of way. I was afraid of losing relationships and people getting mad at me. People wouldn’t know there was a problem. They wouldn’t know that I had concerns, I disagreed, or anything. I would eat it for the sake of the relationship, mainly because I was afraid of having conversations, and I didn’t know how.

Maybe it is more of a gravitate. You gravitate to artificial harmony versus constructive tension. That is critical for anybody. On my show, much like yours, we have business professionals that are trying to move their way up. Kwame’s podcast is the number one negotiation podcast in the world. You must listen. I listen and subscribe to it.

On my podcast or yours, the audience is business professionals trying to move up. That is something they struggle with because the anti-word seems to be a relationship. We contextually take this word relationship. We make it all-encompassing, and we have no way to gauge how good the relationship is other than likability. It becomes this massive filter for us. In business, we end up not doing things we should do to win business or advance things.

One of the big shifts that I had to make was recognizing what conflict is. Maybe it will be helpful to have these operational definitions here. When I think about negotiation, it is any time you are having a conversation and somebody in the conversation wants something. I think about it broadly. That is why you can see it in the work that we do. It is not working with procurement teams, sales teams, and those types of things. It is also doing leadership and diversity work because those are tough conversations too.

When I think about conflict, it is an opportunity. If you look at the interaction the right way, you can find that opportunity to build a relationship, learn from somebody, and solve a problem. You can be creative, and you can find an opportunity anywhere. If you change your mindset in that way, it will lead you to move toward the conversation instead of running away.

Would it be fair to say that conflict? Anytime you are asking for something, you are asking for change, trying to persuade somebody on a process, or influencing somebody’s behavior. You may build a stronger relationship. You said something earlier, “liked or respected.” I asked that question to a leadership group in Minnesota with Minnesota Timberwolves. I said to the leadership group, “Would you rather be liked or respected? How do you behave now?” Mostly, everybody said, “I behave more to be liked.” One of the newer leaders said, “Lance, the leaders I think of most now in my life or people in the past that I respect at that time, I probably didn’t like them.” That is that next piece.

I love that you went to that people pleaser and good people skills because people get caught up on that. They don’t advance and get frustrated with things. I think of my oldest son. He is a people pleaser. I’m like, “There is conflict and you are going to have to want things.” He got his first job offer and I said, “You got to ask for more money to show value.” He goes, “It seems like a good offer.” I go, “Ask for more money.” He did ask for more money. I said, “What did they say?” He goes, “They gave it to me.” I said, “Good.” You will receive it at some level. I’m not trying to push any religion, but I think that is important. You advance and have some success. You represent Ohio State and you go to nationals. Was it an international competition after that in New Orleans?

I won the regional competition and made it to the semis of nationals.

When you got out of law school, did you practice law for a little bit and formulate the organization?

Maybe it helps to show my thought process at that stage when I was younger because as I’m studying Psychology, I wanted to help people, but then I said, “What can I do to help more people?” I could influence policy and do politics. That was my thought process. That is why I went to law school. I never had the intent to practice that much, but I wanted it because I said, “A Psychology degree as a politician, I probably not going to impress many people, but if I do a dual degree in Law and a Master of Public Policy at the same time, practice law for a little bit, and then I have a resume.”

Halfway through law school as I started to learn more about politics, I thankfully overdosed on politics. I realized I couldn’t do this. I would say to myself, “I’m going to listen to an hour of MSNBC, an hour of Fox, and an hour of NPR trying to get left, right, and somewhat in the middle to triangulate what the truth is. I don’t care what the truth is anymore. I’m not part of this. I will vote and everything, but I’m not going to live my life this way. I’m not going to do this to my family.”

When I came out of school, I was a little bit confused. I didn’t know what to do. I did a little bit of public policy work focusing on health inequity. I’m going around the country and doing presentations on how you can create persuasive arguments in the field of healthcare so you can make your healthcare system a little bit better. I started my own practice because I said, “That is not what I want to do long-term in this specific way, but what I do want to do is start a negotiation consulting firm.”

Going back to the negotiation competitions, I said, “If I practice for a certain amount of time, I get the credit to have a negotiation consulting firm.” I challenged that assumption because I spent these years doing practice law. I did this health policy type of work. I’m having these difficult conversations. I’m a mediator. I don’t need more credibility. I need to start. It was a self-limiting belief that I had. I started with the podcast, and the business grew as the podcast grew too. That was what led me to start ANI, but it was a bit of a circuitous journey.

Fair enough, we all do a lot of things to establish our credibility and build our brand. You built your brand around healthcare and equity. You start to share your knowledge or expertise, which draws in more. I’m always teaching my team, “We can tell everybody exactly what we do.” We put it in our books. Some people are like, “That is our content.” I’m like, “We put it everywhere. It is in a book. They go to Hudson’s and get it.”

The issue is they are going to come back and say, “How do I do that for me?” They are ultimately going to hire you. You form this podcast to get the bullhorn out there. You have this background. I hear many people that want to be entrepreneurs. Half the time, I’m like, “If you wanted to be an entrepreneur, you probably would have done it several years ago because it is all risk. It is how much risk aversion you have or much willingness to take a risk.” When you are trying to make a payroll, the ladder is high, but there is no net. Talk me through that because knowing you a little bit, I’m sure there were other people that you had to convince that this was a decent idea.

A lot of people want to be entrepreneurs but wanting to be an entrepreneur versus being an entrepreneur is different. One of the things and I’m sure you can relate to this too, is that the challenges of entrepreneurship were not obvious. I continued to be surprised by the challenges every single day. I’m like, “I have to deal with this for real. I want to negotiate, make money, and help people. I have to deal with this.”

The challenges of entrepreneurship are not obvious. You will be continued to be surprised by challenges every single day.

I have two people on the staff. I’m like, “Can we get along here? Is this obvious? I do not want to be in that.” I understand.

We need to take a little ten-second walk down the street, hang out, have some bourbon and talk more about that because I feel you there. I remember one of the toughest conversations with was with Whitney. Think about this. Whitney is a doctor. She was at OSU Med School. I was at OSU Law School. We had her first son, Kai, when she was still in residency. Believe it or not, that was Whitney’s plan. She is hardcore.

Imagine her coming out of residency, we have a son, and I’m saying, “I want to quit my job. I want to start this law firm and start this consulting firm.” She was like, “We have a young family. We have a mortgage, and you want to stop getting a paycheck? That is incredible.” That was a tough negotiation but she believed in me. She is fully on board and has always had my back, which is great, but it is tough. I wouldn’t be where I am now if that conversation didn’t go well.

I think it is like anything else. People don’t realize the entrepreneurial journey is lonely, but it has a sideline of certain cheerleaders, not a ton of cheerleaders, but a few strong ones. That resembles a lot of what I have been through. That is why people go on Shark Tank with their beautiful idea. Part of that journey is having some people say, “This is a sucky idea.” It anger sometimes a great motivator. Tell me I can’t do it for some people. Sometimes people are even willing to put a number on what you do. That is a great cheerleader. That is important.

People don’t realize you are not working on your restaurant or your consulting agency. You got to recruit people and make sure you are meeting the standards for the state you are working in. You are going to make payroll. The simplest thing I coach entrepreneurs on is, “The showerhead has to be bigger than the drain.

If the showerhead is revenue and the drain is expenses, this one is always bigger or you lose every time to finance that.” You start this and you are obviously good at selling your ideas. You start to brand your stuff. You got this background. Talk to me about the first bigger relationship that you sold or you got. With that, double question, how did your negotiation and people skills come way into play there? I’m curious.

I will go with the first deal because that was massive. If you look at it over the lifetime of ANI, the revenue from it wasn’t substantial. For me, at that time, year one was huge. I was doing the podcast and I was still practicing. I incorporate it to retain the intellectual property rights because I said, “I’m going to slowly get started.” I got my first client by accident. It was a lawyer. He reached out and he said, “I have this deal that I’m working on. I like some help on it.” For me, it was mindset-wise, Lance, where I was like, “This is a scam. There is no way.”

I got on the phone with him and he said, “I love the podcast. It seems like you know what you are talking about. The social interaction side of the law is tough. I love the practice of law, but when it comes to negotiating those deals, that is not where I’m strong. Can you come in and be a consultant?” The low dollar amount is $5,000 or something like that.

For me, you gave me $5,000 to have fun. I’m sitting here solving these problems. This is fun. It is playtime for me. I would do it for free. Don’t tell my clients that. That is why I have a sales team because people are like, “Kwame is here giving it all away.” It went well. The impact it had on me was that it showed the viability of the idea. I realized this could be done. I realized that people saw me as an expert, which is what I was going for. When it happens, sometimes you have those self-limiting beliefs and it takes a while for you to see yourself.

That is that other piece of that cheerleading. Somebody is willing to make the investment, thus, the entrepreneurial journey starts. Your group gets involved in a lot of conversations. You and I talked about this once before. You mentioned this earlier, “Negotiation starts.” I have never heard that say that simply, but I wholeheartedly agree. It starts when somebody wants something.

The word negotiation is like the word pornography in business. It goes back to that old case the publisher of Hustler. That is, what is the definition of pornography? It’s Hustler versus the US government. It is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people might say the Statue of David is pornography. Other people say it is a great art. Was it Larry Flynt?

You and I do have a similar background because I was on the debate team. I didn’t win any championships at Penn State. I did that and figured it out myself that way. We have so much in common. When I talked in negotiation about business with business professionals, it is a thing that organizations and teams do and have to go through.

It is in the eyes of the beholder a little bit. Each organization or person defines it. Negotiation, like your word, I would negotiate my car into a parking space. Negotiation is also navigation at some level too. Expand on your philosophy. When you go into an organization, let’s say it is a procurement team or a sales team, talk about those steps a little bit and how you help them define or recognize negotiation to them. Sometimes it is a deal, but it is never just a deal. It is more.

For me, what it is, is taking the time to figure out what their challenge is and hear it in their own words. What are you experiencing? I will give you an example. We were talking to a sales team and they were talking about their sales process, how they are comfortable in their sales system, and those types of things. Everything seemed okay and almost like a passing comment.

He was like, “One of the things that are tough for our people is the conversations with the people that are the supplier company and who are the plant managers. After the deal is closed, the people who sold the deal now have difficult conversations because there is a discrepancy between an interpretation of what somebody was supposed to do on the contract. There is a violation of expectations. Those take so much time. We could lose deals subsequently because of that. Other than that, everything is great on the sales side.” We are like, “No, back up. Let’s get into that.”

ASO 2 Kwame | Confidence In Conflict
Confidence In Conflict: After sales deal is closed, the people who sold the deal now have difficult conversations because there is a discrepancy between an interpretation of what somebody was supposed to do on the contract.


For him, the way that he was thinking about it was almost as if that conflict was the cost of doing business. He was like, “I can’t do anything about it. It may lead to inefficiency, lack of productivity, more stress, and lost deals. That is how things go.” I was like, “No, we need to zone in there.” The way I think about it is like what Bruce Lee says, “Be like water.” I think about negotiation. Negotiation is shaped like water and it fits in. It fills the vessel that it is within. Negotiation is everywhere. You need to find it. You need to find the biggest return on investment for improving those targeted negotiation skills.

For them, they don’t need a new sales process. Their sales process is great. They have a high rate of return. They are comfortable with where they are there, but they need a strategy for how to handle those specific conflicts. When it comes to our approach to negotiation, I like to let people know that in any human interaction, there is a communication skillset that can go along with it. We need to be clear on the behaviors we want to target so we can create a curriculum around them.

You and I have talked about this before because we touch on negotiation in the sales process at some level. Do you think the way the salespeople sell there is they don’t tee up the fact that there is going to be a grind somewhere that they are not inside the sales process? They could probably reduce some of the angst, not make it go away, but lean to it a little bit. Are they not doing that at all? I’m curious because they are separating them out. They are saying, “This is fine.” They are saying the whole relationship is not fine.

We need to go a bit deeper with them, but I will blend it with what I have seen with other people too. Let’s say they have a solid sales process, but their focus on the sales process is getting contracts signed and money in the door, which is fine. That is what sales are about. What they are not doing is they are not recognizing that conflict is an opportunity. They want to have a friction-free sales process to get to the contract signing as quickly as possible. There is a belief that I would want to challenge that if I introduce conflict at that stage, I might lose the deal.

Conflict is an opportunity. Instead of aiming to have a friction-free sales process, try to preempt impending conflicts instead.

I disagree because what I want to do is I want to preempt these impending conflicts. I can have a reasonable idea of where that might be. I want to say, “Hypothetically, let’s say six months down the road, this happens based on what the contract says, ‘This is how we are going to handle it or let’s talk about how we would go through it.’” It is easy to have this negotiation when it is not a problem yet. Emotions aren’t running high. We can have a rational high-level conversation.

I like how your business defines it. What I hear you saying is you got to define negotiation from the perspective of where they see it and where it is not. There are some levels of education. You are going to have to change your perspective a little bit because I would say anytime you are asking somebody to make any investment, there is friction and conflict.

By the nature of things, you are probably going to have to ask people tough questions. You are going to have to challenge them at some level, especially if you have to sell change from any perspective. I like to take that opportunity there to move this into one of the hottest topics now, and it is part of your specialty. When you talk about DEI, race, and how negotiation plays in that because you are talking about talent solutions a lot and talent struggles within organizations.

In different groups, we do a lot in pro sports. The athletes present themselves as their own brand. They have a certain number of followers, the team, the league, and the organization. We deal with a lot of negotiation, conflict, and artificial harmony, and you do too. It sounds like that has been part of your background. Talk a little bit about that.

I like to filter everything through the methodology of negotiation because when it comes down, it is human interaction. There is a robust library of resources when it comes to the psychology of human interaction. We have been studying how to sell, persuade, and negotiate for decades so there is a science that substantiates the process. What we are doing is we are taking that skillset that has been tried and tested and bringing it to a new sphere.

A lot of times, when you have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is rules-based and politically correct. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. That is well-intentioned. It often leads to problems because people say, “I went through seventeen trainings on how the world is awful and how I’m awful, and I didn’t realize it. Also, how I can hurt people’s feelings and not know it. I’m not going to talk to anybody who looks different to me because that is scary, and I don’t want to get canceled.”

For me, I want to make it so that you can see that there is hope here. Conflict is an opportunity. We should be leaning into these conversations because we can be constructive and we can bring each other together. That is what the whole second book is about. It is scary doing this because the first book was Finding Confidence in Conflict. It is clearly on brand for the American Negotiation Institute. For a lot of people, there is a record scratch where my second book is How To Have Difficult Conversations About Race. I’m looking through name at everything through the lens of negotiation because this is one of the most difficult negotiations we are having.

ASO 2 Kwame | Confidence In Conflict
Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life

Go back into the DEI and races because I think this is interesting. You mentioned it earlier. It is what you read on the news or how you intake your information about the world and then you get into business. If you are involved in any small, mid-size, or large organization, there is a bunch of different conversations going on.

Your first philosophy that I heard you say, especially when you use the example about the sales organization. You are going to have them define negotiation as it relates to DEI and race. There are a lot of definitions that scare people. I’m going to say this in a way I see a lot of arguments. Is it more about defining this, the jargon, or the result? Do you want DEI or people to use the language the right way?

Not everybody does great in vocabulary or spelling. It is not something that the mass is degraded or arithmetic. I have heard people say, “Both are a priority or neither is a priority.” Which one is a priority? Ultimately, you call it back to like, “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important.” You make the argument that, “Isn’t that a part of the leadership at some level? What good leader wouldn’t want diversity, equity, and inclusion?” It is not that hard to deduct. There are bad players out there and people that aren’t that talented. When you are talking about that, did you take that same philosophy with how you define negotiation into that practice?

I take the exact same definition of negotiation and bring it in. Every one of their conversations is their negotiation. That helps me to bring a different level of intentionality and not emote in front of somebody else. When I think about the obsession that we have with definitions, I’m not going to say that they don’t matter, but they don’t matter as much as people think they do. There is a section in my book called Semantic Arguments, where people argue over the definition of a word instead of focusing on the meaning that they can both agree with and focusing on the ultimate result.

My life doesn’t change that much. If you take my definition, I want to persuade you. I don’t care that you use the same word that I do. I want to change behavior, hearts, and minds as my goal. One of the things I say early and often in the book introduction is, “We have to be results-oriented with these conversations.” It is not about being politically correct. It is not about forcing our definitions on other people. It is about figuring out what our goal is in the conversation and reverse engineering a strategy to get to that goal.

Sales is not about being politically correct. It is not about forcing your definitions on other people. It is about figuring out what your goal is and reverse engineering a strategy to get to that goal.

My goal in many conversations isn’t for you to change your perspective on an academic word. I don’t care about that. If I recognize, as I’m having a conversation, there is a word that you are using and you are defining it differently than the way that I use it. Just like any other negotiation, I’m going to circumvent the jargon. I’m going to figure out what you mean when you say that word and what I mean when I say that word. I’m going to use words that work in order to convey a message to get the result that I want.

You and I philosophically couldn’t be closer because you gave a TED Talk. I was thinking about the TED Talk that you gave in Dayton. I often think about Simon Sinek Golden Circle. It’s the TED Talk you gave. What is more important, the why, The what, or the how? Most people go to the how? To me, that is the definition. Fair enough, if you need a definition to anchor this, you got it. Winning hearts and minds is why and what. I talk about my book, people justify logically but they make decisions emotionally. They are threaded together. They have not pulled apart. That becomes important.

It was like when we started to talk, when I said, “Negotiation is like pornography.” All of a sudden, people can’t value what they can compare. What do you mean? Why are you talking about porn? I’m done. I’m talking about the fact that it is in the eyes of the beholder, and negotiation sometimes is something people do or something they experience. Anytime you ask somebody about negotiation, a good negotiator never does what? 9 out of 10 people go, “Go first.”

I could say, “Don’t ever split the difference.” Somebody wrote a book on that. My point is we know the characteristics. You got to define that. You are in a business where people struggle with that. I love this conversation. Last question, and I think a lot of people learn this way. A predictable process yields a predictable result. You want better odds. It is more about hitting doubles and singles. You know that in driving a sales organization in your own business. If you home runs, you strike out a lot.

If you had to say, “Audience, here are a couple of steps to a negotiation process.” It doesn’t have to be the perfect one. Maybe it is something you outline in your book or something you outline. This is a basic or this is an intermediary process. You think of these steps and tie them with those steps, a couple of traits that you know, and maybe you have mentioned some things you did before. You talk about it in the book. Outline that real quick, and we will bring this bird down the landing for our final questions. This is a great interview.

The fundamental framework that we talk about is the compassionate curiosity framework. It is a three-step process. First, we are going to acknowledge and validate emotions. Second, we are going to get curious with compassion, and then third, joint problem-solving. It is flexible. Sometimes, there is no emotional challenge. I’m going to get curious with compassion. I’m going to gather all the information that I need by asking these questions. I’m going to cycle to joint problem-solving, collaborative negotiations, and working together to figure out what the solution is.

During that problem-solving phase, somebody might get emotional. I know exactly what to do, acknowledge and validate emotions. It helps you to understand what to say and when to say it for maximum impact. In the books, I always go down deep into psychology, so you understand why it works. We have to recognize we will make decisions based on emotions and justify them rationally after the fact with logic.

A lot of times, what ends up happening is if somebody is emotional and they say something to justify their decision based on logic, it doesn’t connect because it is more based on emotion and then you attack the logic. You are focusing on being “right.” Sometimes, we have to make the strategic choice between whether or not we want to be right or whether or not we want to be persuasive. The challenge you might be facing is emotional. Solve the emotional problem, and everything else becomes a lot easier. Everything else might reconcile itself. That is the framework that we build around all of those goals.

ASO 2 Kwame | Confidence In Conflict
Confidence In Conflict: Sometimes, the sales challenge you are facing is emotional. Solve the emotional problem and everything else becomes a lot easier. Everything else might reconcile itself.

It sounds like it is centered around the human that you are dealing with. We are back to that but it is not about definitions. It is about humans. Humans want to be dealt with as an individual and what they bring to the table, like any of our stories. That is important as we do business and negotiate. Nobody wants a generic solution and negotiation. They want to be felt, they have been dealt with fairly, with good people skills, and there is some connectivity there. I love that skillset is off of that. If you had to, name one that is critical in that process.

I would say it is validation. Joe Navarro, the author of What Every Body is Saying, and The Dictionary of Body Language book, one of the things that I asked them about on the podcast was listening skills. He was like, “I never think about it in terms of active listening.” I was like, “We have somebody who is against active listening. I have never heard this before. This is fascinating. I have never heard anybody anti-active listening.” He says, “For me, it is about validation. It takes it to a new level.”

This is my interpretation of it. It is a couple of things. Number one, it is almost like thinking like a math teacher. Remember how a math teacher would say, “Show your work. I can give you some credit.” For me, as I’m listening to somebody, I’m listening for points of agreement where I could say, “I agree with you. I can give you credit. I can see where you are coming from. I might not agree with your conclusion, but I can agree with some of the elements of what you said.”

The other thing is I want to see the world as much as possible through your eyes. I will give an extreme example for my son and me. How is he seeing me? He is 4’ tall and he is looking up at me. I’m huge compared to him. He is six years old. He hasn’t started first grade yet so there is an intellectual gap too. I’m trying to see as literally as possible from his eyes, physical perspective, everything. When you are trying hard to put yourself in the other person’s position while having the humble understanding that you can never fully understand them, it changes the way that you listen. It changes the way that you hear around because I’m trying to listen from their perspective, and it changes everything.

When you are trying hard to put yourself in the other person’s position while having the humble understanding that you can never fully understand them, it changes the way that you listen.

I have written a book on EQ. I don’t think I’m an expert on EQ at all. The more I wrote about it, the more I realized I didn’t understand it, but my level of understanding is a level of attitude control. Secondly, empathy is hard to achieve. It is like you said, “It is seeing through the rise.” It is easy for somebody to describe what they see. It is hard for somebody to describe what they feel.

Dale Carnegie said it best, “Try to honestly see things from that person’s point of view.” It then gets back to that validation of listening. It is what I heard you say. Am I seeing what you are saying? It is critical, and it has to be in practice. It comes down to listening to respond versus listening to understand. There is a difference.

Most people are worried about what the hell they are going to say next as opposed to being in the moment. It is a great interview. You and I should be interviewed in front of a group of people together. The last couple of things would be if you had to give advice to not your son but maybe somebody else, you are an uncle to somebody or a friend’s child, and they were under ten, what advice would you give on life to them based on your experience so far?

There are many ways to go with this but the one is you have to fall in love with learning. When I think about any problem that I had to learn, get better, improve and put what I learned into action in order to overcome that situation. Falling in love with learning is number one.

A book you gift the most besides your own and mine.

Lance, I read a lot, not this year, but usually, when I’m not writing a book, I try to read a book a week. That is my goal. My answer changes depending on the circumstance. For instance, the one that I read is something I would recommend for all parents, How To Not Lose Your S*** With Your Kids. They use the real word, which is punchy and bold as an author. That is great about emotion management for parents. As a negotiator, I love how it applies to us in our difficult conversations in general.

ASO 2 Kwame | Confidence In Conflict
How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Calmer, Happier Parent

If I’m giving a book recommendation, Atomic Habits is a great one because it focuses on not just habit creation, but the practicality of it. There are some other great books like The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It is psychologically laden with research and everything, which, for me, as a nerd, I love. Atomic Habits is a lot more practical. You know exactly what to do after you read it.

Whether it is for your own business, prepping a client, or doing a case study, what is the song or that beat that is playing in your head?

I’m a Caribbean American. I like reggae. There is a song by a reggae artist called Buju Banton. The song is Walk Like A Champion. It has a lot of bass and swag. That would be my song while in negotiation.

I have not heard that one. I always have a beat in my head, especially your own big deal. It has been an honor to have you. Where can my readers reach you and connect with you? Would you please tell them about your books one more time? It is better from the author.

Thank you. I appreciate it. The first one is Finding Confidence in Conflict, but I want to push How To Have Difficult Conversations About Race. Even if you are not in diversity, equity, and inclusion, you happen to have to be a human who happens to interact with people of different backgrounds, this is something that is valuable to you. This is the book for you.

Check out the podcast, Negotiate Anything, the number one negotiation podcast in the world, because we have experts like Lance Tyson coming on the podcast. If you’re interested in conflict resolution negotiation, diversity, equity, and inclusion type of work, check out our website,

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About Kwame Christian

ASO 2 Kwame | Confidence In ConflictFollowing the viral success of his TedxDayton talk, Kwame released his best-seller Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life in 2018. He’s also a regular Contributor for Forbes and the host of the number one negotiation podcast in the world, Negotiate Anything – which currently has over 5 million downloads worldwide. Under Kwame’s leadership, ANI has coached and trained several Fortune 500 companies on applying the fundamentals of negotiation to corporate success.
Kwame was the recipient of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2020 and the Moritz College of Law Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award 2021. He is the only person in the history of The Ohio State University to win alumni awards in consecutive years from the law school and the masters of public affairs program. That said, Kwame’s proudest achievement is his family. He’s married to Dr. Whitney Christian, and they have two lovely sons, Kai and Dominic.