The Art of Change Skills for Life

Ideas. Insight. Inspiration.

Flexibility Increases Your Persuasive Ability

May 26, 2008 Persuasion 2

This continues my series of posts on useful assumptions. Useful assumptions, once mastered, improve your ability to be a more powerful communicator.

I once had the opportunity to observe an aikido master. He was teaching children his martial art and he offered a demonstration to the parents in attendance. He asked the largest person in the room to step up and try to knock him down. There were some large parents there willing to give it a try. But no one could knock him down.

In fact, no matter how hard they tried, they’d stumble and fall as they charged him, and then he’d catch them before they could fall. I was amazed. I blurted out, “How are you doing that?” And he turned, his eyes made contact with mine, and he said “Ah grasshopper!” Then he explained that the essence of aikido is moving with, rather than away or against.

Accept the Unacceptable

Sometimes, that means you must accept the unacceptable, in order to move with it and take charge over it. Only then can you redirect whatever is aimed at you towards your desired result. Your stability is the center of your flexibility and that stability domes from accepting what is. If you can’t accept what is happening for what it is, you are already off balance, and contributing to your own downfall.

I think that is truly profound. After all, no matter what is happening in this moment of your life, whether you like it or don’t like it, agree with it or don’t agree with it. approve of it or don’t approve of it, the truth is that it is what it is, it isn’t what it isn’t, and that’s how it is. To be persuasive, to create positive change, you must learn to accept even the unacceptable, because your stability gives rise to flexibility and flexibility increases your persuasive power.

Feedback Over Failure

Flexibility means having more than one choice, and getting feedback instead of failure. Why more than one choice?  Because if you only know one way to do something, you’ll always have to do it, even if it doesn’t work!

Consider the person whose only choice is to lose his temper when he doesn’t get what he wants. He has no choice but to lose his temper, because it’s all he knows to do.

A more flexible person could notice that losing his temper is creating more problems than it solves.  A more flexible person could try whining instead!

The flexibility of more than one choice means that if what you’re doing isn’t working, you can notice that it isn’t working and do something else, anything else, until you either rule out all the ways it doesn’t work or actually find what works. The more choices you have, the more likely you are to have a choice that gets your desired result.

The flexibility of getting feedback instead of failure means that you can learn from the consequences and results of your choices and actions, and apply keep applying what you’ve learned to do better next time around.

Change is inevitable, but progress is not. Discover how you make the difference.

Be well,

Dr. Rick

Related posts

1. Persuading with Integrity: Questions Have Persuasive Power
2. The Art of Persuasion: Improving Your Communications with Useful Assumptions

 

2 Responses

  1. J.D. Meier says:

    Nice distillation and distinctions!

    My Dad always reminded me of the Aikido approach and he would say that the mighty Oak breaks while the Willow bends in the wind.

    One frame that’s been very effective for me is – Adapt, Adjust, Avoid. In any situation, I make a call on whether to adapt for the situation, adjust the situation to play to my strengths, or avoid the situation all together. It sounds so simple, but it’s so powerful. For example, some people adapt to situations in ways that take away their strength, rather than finding a better situation or simply setting themselves up for success.

    I agree — there’s no failure; only lessons 😉

  2. Nice frame, J.D. Ok, here’s something I’d love to hear more about. Can you give an example of adjusting the situation to play to your strengths?

    BTW, your book blog is terrific! I owe everything I’ve ever done to something I learned about myself while reading a book. I remember my first insight into what a book really is. It came from my second grade teacher, Mrs. Espel. I was sitting in a public library, near my grade school, waiting for my Mom who was shopping nearby. Mrs. E came in, sat down next to me, slid a book across the table called “Tall Tales of America” with a picture of Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox Babe. She said “What do you see?” I looked at her with confusion in my eyes. “A book?” She smiled a gentle and understanding smile. Then she pointed at the book, touched the cover, slowly opened it, and said “I see a doorway into another world. I open the door and I step through.” I gasped. I fell in love with that book. I couldn’t stop reading it. Then, I couldn’t stop reading.

    Thank you for commenting on my blog. Thanks for sharing your love of books. And I look forward to reading your reply about adjusting a situation.

    be well
    Dr K

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