These days I am in an Aikido mood 🙂 This article discusses how ‘verbal’ aikido can be used in handling difficult people (be it customers, colleagues, whatever)
Using the principles of Aikido, you too can diffuse anger and demonstrate amazing control over all aspects of verbal attacks. People using “verbal aikido” can respond to heated situations directly and assertively without being pulled into the drama of the battle and they can lay the foundation for win-win resolutions:
1. An Aikidoist strategically calms down the attack. This is done by both the use of relaxed body posture and open hands. Verbal attacks from irate customers also need the same calming strategy. In Aikido, the master will step aside rather than confront the attack. This takes the power and speed out of the attack and allows the master to stay centered and calm.
2. Aikido never meets force with force. In fact, there are no direct attacks and very little striking or kicking. When dealing with angry customers it is natural to respond to an attack with an attack. While we may feel justified in launching our attack because we’ve been attacked, we must realize that a defensive (forceful) response only escalates the original problem.
3. Aikido emphasizes quick, decisive movements that are designed to use the attacker’s force against him. This is done through evasive movements, body shifting, and leverage. Taking this to a verbal level, you’d take a customer’s intensity and sense of urgency and use that to your advantage. Instead of letting the customer’s intimidation tactics negatively impact you, you turn that energy back at the customer by pacing his actions.
4. Aikidoists blend with their opponent’s energy. In Aikido, this looks as if you move toward your opponent and then change places with them. In a verbal attack, blending with your customer is finding common ground with the customer. You can blend with your angry customer by listening with a sincere intent to understand their pain, frustration and needs and then responding with empathy.
5. Aikido students learn to turn with their opponent’s force and let that force go past them. don’t get caught up in the emotion of anger. Instead, allow the customer to express his feelings and don’t take comments personally and don’t allow your feelings (anger, rejection, offense) to control ur responses.
6. An Aikido Master never seeks to kill his opposition. Our goal is to never blow someone off. Our goal is to find more diplomatic ways to communicate and reach win win resolutions.
7. In Aikido, all opponents are considered partners. Think of your angry customer as your partner and let this mindset direct you to use interactive dialogue to work with your customer to solve the problem. Try to not resist or coerce your “partner.” Work with your partner, talk with your partner, and seek solutions that benefit the customer and the company.
(a quick note regarding the animated gif image, this technique is called Kotegaeshi, or wrist turning throw. First of all the aikidoka goes off line the attack, blends in with his opponenet, controls the center and oblige the uke to stop the aggression by pinning him on the ground, and finally taking the knife from his hand)
“ To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury in the Art of Peace.” – O’sensei
“I do not think badly of others when they treat me unkindly. Rather, I feel gratitude towards them for giving me the opportunity to train myself to handle adversity.” – O’sensei