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Flexibility Increases Persuasive Ability

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on June 18, 2012

Insider's Guide To The Art of PersuasionI 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 do it. 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.

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 comes 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, you must learn to accept even the unacceptable, because your stability gives rise to flexibility, and flexibility increases your persuasive power.

Flexibility means having more than one choice, and getting feedback instead of failure. 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, 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 per- son could try whining instead! More than one choice means that if what you’re doing isn’t working, you can notice that and do something else. Feedback instead of failure means that you can learn from the consequences of your choices, and apply those learnings to do better next time around.

Not that I’m asking you to bend over backwards or anything, but your feedback and comments are welcome.

Be well,

Rick

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