In case you haven't heard, Uber thinks self-driving cars are the future, and flying cars, and eventually self-flying cars. But Elon Musk thinks Hyperloops and tunnels with high-speed sleds to shortcut traffic are the way to go.

It's kind of interesting that a man who has made electric cars that are basically self-driving and proposed using space rockets for super-fast international flights wouldn't also see some merit in flying cars. After all, Uber's plans for what are basically passenger drones seems to offer a happy medium between his own designs for the future of ground and flight-based transit.

But Musk made it very clear on Twitter that he is not a fan of where Uber would like to take things.

"If you love drones above your house, you'll really love vast numbers of 'cars' flying over your head that are 1,000 times bigger and noisier and blow away anything that isn't nailed down when they land," he tweeted sarcastically when asked about Uber's "Elevate" project being compared to his Hyperloop design. 

Ouch. Burn.

But Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was happy to take the high road in his response by accepting Musk's challenge to improve the company's future designs while also paying the Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Boring Company CEO a compliment.

"Challenge accepted," Khosrowshahi tweeted. "Improved battery tech (thx 2 @elonmusk) and multiple smaller rotors will be much more efficient and avoid noise + environmental pollution."

Clearly Uber has already considered the criticisms Musk brings to bear and started work on solutions. What's more instructive here is the different tactics used by each executive.

When challenged, Musk responded by defensively lashing out against a company being framed as a competitor. 

Khosrowshahi then chose to shut down the debate with a little humility, or at least something somewhere in between a humblebrag and humility. Either way, it's an emotionally intelligent move that can be used in everyday life just as easily.

Uber's CEO took a blatant attack and turned it into a call to action for himself and a compliment for his attacker. In other words, he took a totally negative sentiment and made it totally positive, instantly shutting down the squabble.

What's interesting is that Musk could have easily taken this tactic himself. When Hyperloop was pitted against Uber's project, it would have been very easy to point out that the two are not really competing concepts at all. Hyperloop is designed for long-distance travel while Uber's flying taxi service is conceived more with commuting and short trips in mind.

The natural reaction to criticism is often to attack back, but it frequently makes more sense to simply accept the critique, stopping the attack cold. It often reveals the pettiness of the attack and shows a willingness to concede small squabbles in favor of focusing on the long game. 

Funny, seems like Musk could have learned that lesson from his own story, too. 

Published on: Feb 22, 2018
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