“Never hate your enemies, it affects your judgment” Michael Corleone, The Godfather

This pearl of wisdom may well be from the mouth of Mario Puzo’s fictitious Mafia gangster – but viewed through a business development lens – it has real weight to it.

We all have competitors in our respective industries. Most of us are time-poor and with our energy being in finite supply: one should never waste energy on hate and certainly not focusing such negativity on your competitors.

As the January events in Washington D.C reminded us, there’s a load of hate going around – and hate is not an emotion anyone should purvey.

A better use of resources might be to be honest about your current feelings towards your competitors… and then question them.

Take the time to explore why you have associated such animosity with your rivals and unpack these feelings as they may be hiding some insightful truths.

If a competitor is doing something that irritates you: analyse why that is.

Anything they do that you perceive of as a negative or a ‘value detractor’ is an opportunity for you to add further value to your offering or products.

If they are competing directly with you: identify your point of differences and celebrate them in your marketing copy.

Never publicly point the finger at your competitor and what ‘they do wrong’ . Instead, channel that energy into telling people how well you and your business will help them solve their problem.

Perhaps you dislike your competitor because they do something better than you do – or perhaps you feel they have an unfair advantage.

Rather than railing against them on these points – turn it around: what can you learn from your observation? How can you apply your rival’s insight to your marketing mission or business development?

A view often shared by my colleague Neil Whitten is that if you take an objective view, your direct competitors are ultimately helping you to sell your service or product.

If they are marketing themselves – then they are turning more people on to your industry. If your service really is better, more affordable, faster or even the most expensive then your competitor is potentially pointing a customer to you. Your future customer will compare and contrast their options within your industry at their time of need or purchase – by standing out you are a contender for their business.

Better still – reach out to your competitors, make them your friends and allies. After all – you are both operating in the same space. Celebrate your points of difference – and above learn from each other: invite them to your events, or a 1:1 lunch, or a webinar as a guest speaker.

Offer to share your insights, and learnings with them. See how you might be able to help them. You never know when you might need their support or advice, so instead of rubbing them up the wrong way – keep them close.