Aikido and Conflict Resolution
Tom Crum, in his classic book The Magic of Conflict, says, “Literally translated, Aikido means the way of blending energy. In this light, all life, including the physical attack, is energy with which to dance. Attacks are considered just another of the endless gifts of energy to be used creatively and harmoniously. It is important to accept and embrace the attack rather than try to get rid of it. Direct the flow of energy instead of being pushed around by it.”
Here is a simple way to help yourself (and others) learn how to stand in the middle of an attack of anger or criticism, use the energy in a positive way and turn the negative situation into one of positive resolution.
1. Take a deep breath and center yourself. Detach. Don’t take it personally.
2. Tune in to your self-talk…change negatives to positives.
“Stay Calm; this isn’t about me, personally.”
“This is an opportunity to practice.”
“I listen, understand, and Be Here Now.”
3. Let the person dump, moan, complain…“STEP BACK”
4. Acknowledge the speaker, nod, and DON’T BE CONDESCENDING or FLIPPANT!
5. Listen. Get to the real issue. Find out what the speaker needs, what did or didn’t happen or what is happening that is unacceptable. Don’t assume you know how he/she feels.
Reflectively listen; rephrase and repeat what you heard
Ask open-ended questions
AVOID asking “WHY?”
Pay attention to non-verbals (yours and theirs)
6. Show empathy and compasion and use I-Statements
“I understand your frustration…”
“I agree we have a problem. Let’s explore solutions.”
“How can I help?”
7. Explore options and solutions. Focus on what you CAN do, not on what you can’t do. Only promise what you can deliver. Explain what you both can do to prevent it from happening again.
8. Select an option; set a deadline if appropriate.
9. Deliver the solution that is appropriate for the situation.
10. Follow-Up: It’s easy to fall down at the last step. After you have agreed on a solution it’s easy to say, “Whew. I’m glad that’s over.” It’s not. Be diligent on your follow through.