Aikido for Resolving Disputes

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as “the Way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the Way of harmonious spirit.” Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This requires very little physical strength, as the aikidka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements.

I saw a presentation once that covered this, and I have used it ever since.  In the business world, disagreements and disputes arise all of the time.  Customers are irate, bosses are mad at you, co-workers are fighting over the issue du jour..  How can you deal with all of these issues?

Aikido is all about redirecting the force of your opponent.  So here is the first rule:

Always start by agreeing with your opponent.

This is critical.  You have to be facing the same direction.  Find common ground.  Agree on something, agree on anything.  The point is to be on the same side of the table.  Then, when you are side-by-side, the dynamic will instantly change.

First of all, most anger needs a target.  If there is no target, then the anger often melts away.  I was once on the phone with a customer who started off angry and I agreed whole-heartedly with her complaints, right away.  Immediately, she began to calm down.  Had I disagreed with her, the anger would likely have intensified.

Always understand your audience and your surroundings.  Agreement is the first step to progress.  Use the momentum of your opponent to focus on the right issues, not on just yelling at you.  There are other ways of demonstrating strength in unexpected ways.  Check out this Seth Godin article for some unorthodox, but effective techniques.

One Reply to “Aikido for Resolving Disputes”

  1. For better for worse, Steven Seagal might be the most famous Aikido expert in the world. Before his acting career, he was completely dedicated to the art, he become a 7th dan degree and Shihan in aikido. He was also the first foreigner to operate an aikido dojo in Japan. Even in his movies, you see the style as he just steps aside when the bad guy comes as him and tosses him further in the direction he was already going.

    However, it is interesting to think about this style at work or at home. Maybe there should be a guidebook on how to re-direct the force of a wife, without harming anyone.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Seagal#Aikido

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