A few weeks ago I had a spat with one of my competitors.

I can’t go into the details without exposing who it is and what it was about. Which would distract from the lesson I’m out to share here.  

The details are trivial anyway. 

What matters is the way it went down. 

When somebody does something that angers you, you have 3 choices for how to handle it:

  1. Fly off the handle and attack the person. 
  2. Let it roll off your back and do nothing. 
  3. Go to the person directly to voice your issue. 

If we look at the landscape of known personalities in the copywriting space, you can pretty easily guess how differently they would choose to react. 

Some list owners would lick their lips, crack their knuckles, and publicly go to town on the offender. 

I call these, “The Vince McMahons.”

They’re brilliant entertainers who not only welcome the conflict, but orchestrate elaborate WWE-style battles that stretch over weeks or months.

Interesting thing about McMahon’s is they’re typically not nearly as emotionally invested in these conflicts as they portray in their newsletters. 

Some, whom I know personally, even occasionally choose to go directly to their “offenders” and seek peace, rather than launch a public war. 

I’ve also seen them go privately to those they’ve offended to apologize and explain.

Which, to me, proves they are not actual sociopaths (unempathetic humans who use people like furniture), more like skillful directors of “reality shows” where they are always the hero.

It takes a high level of intelligence, commitment, and creative ability to play this role. (A fact painfully evident when you see imitators attempt to adapt their style and come off like road-raging psychopaths.)

However, it is a bold choice.

About how you want to be regarded in the industry… 

About whether you are able to check your personal emotions and “produce theater”…

And, about whether you want to spend your energy in conflict.

After almost two decades in the business, I’m very clear on all those things. Which is why I typically let things roll off my back. 

Not to mention that my dominant Enneagram is 9: the Peacemaker. 


When this competitor of mine did something that pissed me off, I had a fleeting fantasy of taking it public to launch a social media “war.”

People love drama, and “win or lose,” showing some fight is a good way to demonstrate passion for what you do. 

That’s assuming you do a skillful job of stating your case, and giving those on “your side” what they need to rally behind you. 

Some personalities operate under the concept of “all publicity is good publicity.” If people are talking about you, you’re winning.

I disagree. 

Success is a long game. 

In business, reputation and relationships are the greatest currency we have. And while we can’t control what other people think or say about us, we can control how we conduct ourselves in private. 

I’m of the opinion that the things you do behind the scenes have a far greater impact than the shows you put on in public.

What’s that old saying? 

True Character Is Revealed In The Things
People Do When Nobody’s Looking

So, the way I would go about handling this conflict with this person was never in question. 

I slept on it for a night to confirm whether the issue was worth voicing at all. 

When it was, I went directly to the person and let them know how I felt. 

Even then, I came on a little strong. 

No diplomacy to be found in my message. 

No benefit of doubt. 

Gloves off “final warning” type shit. 

Which naturally put them on the defensive. 

A good reminder that platform matters. 

Text-based messages are completely different from real-time conversations. 

This situation warranted a call, but in my haste, I blasted it to them over messenger.

Credit to this person for responding with firm, but calm, disagreement with my issue. 

Things escalated over several days of text and voice messages before finally ending with mutual understanding, a virtual first bump, and a declaration of ongoing respect. 

Which I consider a victory, especially when compared to the hours of negative energy and ongoing fallout that airing this publicly would have cost. 

Plus, now I know this person better. And them, me. 

Again, success is a long game. 

I’d much rather collect allies than enemies along the way. 

True relationships are always forged in private. 

Something to think about.

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