Marketers want commitment. They want the big finish, the closed sale, the new customer. Buy Now!

The goal then is to create tension, to escalate need, to amplify conflict until action is taken. Escalation causes us to commit to our original need, by reinforcing it.

It goes beyond the retail store, of course… it's deep within our culture. Noir novels show the hero goading the guy in the bar until a small dispute escalates into a beat down. Movies create drama (and entertainment) by escalating the small-time heist into the next world war. And commercials, retailers and demagogues take every opportunity to find the smallest thread of disclocation and amplify it into real commitment to action.

But what happens when we do the opposite? If we think about connection instead of power, if we think about abundance instead of scarcity, we can turn this on its head.

What if we de-escalate conflict?

What if we don't try to turn shopping desire into a fever pitch? What if later is just as good, or better, than now?

What if we back off occasionally instead of pressing forward?

What if playing the game starts to become at least as important as winning it?

De-escalation creates connection, not commitment to previously made choices. It trades the short-term battle for the long-term relationship.

Taking our time and letting air in (and heat to escape) might be precisely the best way to build the relationships we need for the long run. It leads to better decisions, less shrapnel and work that truly matters, without regret.