When we first started in the working world—and by extension in the adult world—one of the salient pieces of advice we were repeatedly given by other working people was, “fake it until you make it.”

Now, in most contexts of the workplace, where things happen—projects, ideas, tasks, etc.—underneath the force of organizational inertia, this is perhaps wise advice.

But in the conflict entrepreneurship game, “Fake it until you make it” is terrible advice. So too is the advice to “act as if.”

If the conflict engagement consultant fakes knowing the answer, fakes being empathetic, or under delivers the goods as promised, the client will know immediately.

By the way, bait and switch doesn’t work either, because showing up as one thing, when you’ve advertised another, is a sure way to guarantee never being called again.

Here’s some better advice for the conflict engagement consultant: Being confident in yourself, your approach and your process, comes when you embrace the fear of not being confident. Embrace cannot become paralysis, and self-fulfilling prophecies are like a dose of nerve gas against the conflict consultant.

Walk through the fear, is much better advice.

It’s the only way for the conflict consultant, and her client, to walk out whole on the other side.

Originally published on  January 29, 2015.

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