Friday, June 18, 2010

Exercise verbal aikido and avoid getting hooked!

Our title borrows from a form of martial arts. The goal of aikido is to effectively neutralize an attack while maintaining the safety of the attacker and defender. Aikido uses the energy of the attack itself to immobilize the aggressor. They push; you pull; they pull, you push. You don’t challenge them.

We can apply the same principle in communication by using a technique called Limited Response. When someone throws out a sarcastic remark it's as though they're casting a fishing line with a big hook on the end. Don't bite! It's the tone that hooks us, so we need to repeat what they said─in our head─without the tone. Then we can respond to the seemingly neutral remark with an equally neutral remark.

In other words, we respond only to the subject of a remark, not the emotion behind it. For example, if you come into a meeting a bit late and a sarcastic co-worker says, "Nice of you to join us." You could come back with a defensive comment or an equally sarcastic one. Instead, repeat their remark in your head without the sarcastic tone. A likely response? "Thank you"─said in a very neutral tone. The big payoff for you? The sarcastic person will cast about for a fish, er, person who is more likely to grab their hook.

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