Conflict in business is a given. Tough negotiations, pointed fingers, and guilt assigned to the person who made a mistake (unless you have been pre-selected to take the blame). Handling problems is an art in itself. Today we are looking at one specific strategy: does taking the high road work?

Start With Yourself

There are many different approaches to business. Some believe in integrity, others in taking full advantage of any and all opportunities regardless the cost. Everyone else falls somewhere in between those two extremes. The first step starts with YOU. You need to get clear on which overall and problem-solving strategies work for you.

Handling Problems: The 2×4 Approach

This is one of my favorite and most used tools. I consider it an indispensable backdoor strategy. As a woman, I have found the key to being respected by men means being unafraid to swing a figurative 2×4 and swiftly hit someone over the head.

Let me explain. This approach works for women who are in male-dominated environments (so, that’s all of us) where we know the other side of the argument is designed to force us to lose our cool, or for no other reason than to get a rise out of us so that we can be deemed too emotional and therefore not qualified. It’s a tool men use against women all the time. See, she can’t even handle something like this, how could she possibly handle a real problem…? These guys could benefit from reading my article How To Not Be A Jerk In Business.

How Does The 2×4 Approach Work?

The 2×4 approach is simple. Many men support other men no matter what. It’s their code. Male camaraderie comes before supporting women. If a woman says something about a subject in which she is well versed, and then finds herself challenged by male counterparts, she must make a strong move before the wolfpack mentality kicks in. Meaning, men will offer ludicrous responses and insults to set you up to fail. Do not take it personally.

Yes, yes, I know not all men are this way. We are lucky for the few wonderful and aware men. But the majority of old school guys are convinced men are smarter and superior, and there are a LOT of old school guys handing around. I see them in forums, on LinkedIn, in groups, on my YouTube channel, and just about everywhere I turn. When they attack, you need to set them straight right away. Instead of taking the high road in this case, take the 2×4 approach.

Hit hard, on target, and only once very quickly. Remain unemotional, speak up, and stick to the facts. If the challenger tries to shoot back—repeat. I like to state the facts and then proceed by saying something like, “If you are challenging me to see which of us is smarter, when it comes to this subject I believe I am.” Or, “If you believe I will lose my cool over something so trivial or obviously wrong, think again. Many have tried before you. Back to the subject we are actually discussing….”

In 80% of the times I have used the 2×4 approach, the man has backed off. Under the men’s code, it’s ok to challenge the alpha. And if you are being challenged by a man, that only means you are already considered to be a threat. Congratulations!

Surprisingly enough, most men understand the 2×4 approach and are perfectly fine with it. The remaining 20% are professional instigators who cannot be helped. Those guys need a slightly different response from you. I will say, “If you have facts to add to THIS discussion, and not references to my (personal life, body shape, intelligence, education, marriage status, etc.), please let me know. Until then, I am done with this discussion.” This LinkedIn article shares more ways to refocus business conversations.

Once you established your territory, you can move to the solution-driven approach.

The Solution-Driven Approach

This approach is based on problem solving and it works for women when you established respect.  It goes like this…

My partner is big on personal energy and he will not give any of his good energy to someone who is full of bad energy. His favorite line is “I will not engage.” This is his way of taking the high road because you can’t fight with someone who will not fight back. He also often works with esteemed companies and well-off business people or celebrities. Fighting every battle will not work for his business.

Gary believes that, in the end, it doesn’t matter who said what or why it happened. He believes in conflict resolution. If you watch him during a conflict, you’ll constantly hear him bring it back to “how we will fix it.” Gary is a fixer and this works well for him.

Taking the high road doesn’t work for women in business until you are done circling through the other methods. Your first objective is to establish subject matter expertise in a non-emotional, factual approach. And that includes a 2×4!

Let me know what you think of this backdoor strategy. How do you keep these personal attacks in check? I can’t wait to hear how you establish respect.


Beate Chelette is The Growth Architect and a results-oriented businesswoman with an entrepreneurial spirit and a proven track record in growing, building and scaling women’s businesses. Once $135,000 in debt and a single mother, she successfully sold her business to a global entertainment media company owned by Bill Gates in a multi-million dollar deal.

Through her online courses, one-on-one training programs and live speaking events, she mentors women entrepreneurs with her 5 Star Success Blueprint, developed with the knowledge gleaned from her growing, scaling and selling her own company. Beate has a deep commitment to supporting women.

She is the creator of The Women’s Code, the fourth step of Growth Architecture that is focused on Supporting Balanced Leadership. Her proprietary methods specifically address women’s obstacles and she leads from experience, having survived in business in a highly competitive male-dominated environment.

She is a respected speaker and mentor and is the author of the book “Happy Woman Happy World How to Go From Overwhelmed to Awesome”, a book that corporate trainer and best-selling author Brian Tracy calls “a handbook for every woman who wants health, success and a fulfilling career.”

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