With practice you can learn to take insults with so much finesse and panache that they either disappear or never touch you.

Here’s the fifth and final post of 5 that I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.

It’s only been a few months since I finished reading “Verbal Judo” but I have used the following tactic more than anything else. I’ll admit, I have a hard time taking criticism.

In the past I would just pretend that the hurtful words just weren’t said. But we all know that doesn’t work. A bully, having spoken insults and not getting any reaction will invariably turn up the volume and make you acknowledge him if you don’t the first time.

“The first step in learning to deal with verbal attacks is to acknowledge that crap is being flung. The second step is to admit that it is being flung at you. Then congratulate yourself. It’s okay to be questioned, heckled, or even attacked. If you are willing to take it, you should be commended. The only way to avoid criticism is either to live in a capsule or spend your whole life trying to please everyone. That means playing it safe, surrounding yourself with sycophants, taking few responsibilities, and doing what other people tell you to do.” – Thompson

It’s not that easy. But Thompson goes on to detail the tough position you put yourself in if you insult back or refrain from speaking up for yourself:

“The first principle of physical judo is to not resist your opponent. Instead, move with him and redirect his energy. Ignoring or dismissing a question is the same as resisting it.” – Thompson

So how do you deal with the negativity if you can’t insult back and you can’t just pretend it didn’t happen?

You need to start using “Strip Phrases:”

“Strip phrases are a deflector that strips the insult of its power.” – Thompson

Here’s a list of the strip phrases you can use when someone insults you:

  • ‘Preciate that
  • oyess
  • understan’ that sir

Each strip phrase allows you to retain some self-worth while verbally acknowledging the insult, deflecting it with a strip phrase, then discussing what you actually want from the person.

Here’s an example of how you could use one of the strip phrases:

Let’s say you’re having a hard time talking to an irate customer. They are insulting you and being generally rude. Instead of insulting them back or treating them harshly, take the blow. But deflect the internal damage by stripping the phrase you send back at them.

“‘preciate that sir, but all customers are required to bring in 2 forms of identification before we are able to process their paperwork.”

See what you did there? You took the insult and stripped back your response to overcome the insult.

“That’s how ancient samurai warriors viewed their battles. They lived for them. They were trained to see warfare as a joy and conflict, as a sign that they were drawing more energy.” – Thompson

If you get good at this tactic, you’ll move your head when the spear of insult is being flung at you. I believe the Notorious B.I.G. put it best in the song “Hypnotize”:

Never lose, never choose to, bruise crews who
Do something to us, talk go through us

I hope you enjoyed these last 5 posts on the book “Verbal Judo.” If you have any questions about the past 5 blog posts or want to discuss the book further please email me.

Have a great week!

Advertisements

You need to develop increasingly sensitive radar to know how you’re coming across while you’re performing.

Here’s the fourth post of 5 that I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.

Right out of high school I started a few rock bands. We were very fortunate to have started right after Napster broke, but before digital downloads and streaming music killed the industry that would support live local acts.

In preparing for shows I’d mime the performance in front of a mirror, plan out my show attire, run through the entire set at least 3 times, and make sure all of my gear was ready and in good working order.

The goal of any performer is to constantly be aware of how you are coming across. You have to constantly stay open to the feedback from the audience. You are constantly checking your expectations of the reactions you will get against the actual reactions you are getting from the audience. Then you internalize your findings and regroup.

Today I wanted to apply that mentality to the art of performing in business. In this post I wanted to highlight Thompson’s take on being aware of yourself while you’re performing.

“A mediocre idea brilliantly presented often gains acceptance, whereas a brilliant idea badly presented often dies in birth. Your success with your children, your spouse, your employees, and the public hinges on how you come across.” – Thompson

Are you aware of how you are coming across? Why do you think dance studios have a mirrored wall? Why did Travis Bickle stare himself down in his apartment mirror in the film “Taxi Driver?” We all want to see how we are seen by others. If you forget this, you will be sending out the wrong messages.

“Whether you’re speaking to a roomful of citizens, a city council of eight, or just one disgruntled customer, you are onstage. You are playing a role before others, and you should be aware of the dynamics of each situation. For example, when I teach I often suddenly pull a camera out of my bag and point it at the students. Immediately the room changes. Everything becomes still and silent, and then there’s some nervous giggling, people looking down, others warily looking at the camera, wondering what I’m doing with it. Think of yourself as that camera. As you enter a scene, it changes. You can make two assumptions right off the bat. First, people will always see differently than you. I don’t care whether you’ve been married two or twenty years, your spouse does not think the way you do. The moment you begin to believe that he or she does, you’re headed for problems. Never assume people are going to agree with you 100 percent.” – Thompson

And now an extra pep talk on preparing for speeches:

“How he sees himself, remember, is not as important as how he’s seen. If an audience thinks you’re boring, you are. If an audience thinks you don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t. You’ve got a problem. You’ve failed to perform in such a way as to get their attention. More than likely you failed to analyze in advance who those people really are, what they might think, what they might anticipate, what their objections might be. If you had, then as you entered the scene your walk and your voice would have appropriately matched their needs.” – Thompson

I hope this helps you stay tuned to how you are coming across in professional settings. Got any questions about keeping your social radar attuned? Email me!

 

Talk differently to everyone

Here’s the third post of 5 that I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.

About 5 years ago, I had a performance evaluation. I was killing it with new and interesting projects and I went into the meeting smug and happy with myself. My boss gave me a good evaluation then asked if I had any questions for her.

Sitting on cloud nine I flipped the question back to her and asked her if there was any constructive feedback she could give me. Without missing a beat she said something that I did not understand for years. It only made sense after I read “Verbal Judo.”

5 years ago, my boss tilted her head, thought about it, then told me, “David, you can’t treat everyone the same.” I asked for clarification and she said, “You need to figure out how people want to be treated. You need to treat people differently.”

I still didn’t get it. I sat on the feedback for years. After reading “Verbal Judo,” now I get it.

“Treat everyone the same (with REspect and dignity), but don’t talk to everyone the same way. You don’t talk to each of your children the same way, do you? Since each responds differently, based on his or her makeup and character, you instinctively learn to communicate uniquely to each one.” – Thompson

Thompson goes on to clarify that you must know your audience:

“Knowing one’s audience and communicating in his language is one of the greatest skills there is.” – Thompson

And he finally nails the point with the following quote:

“If you’re having trouble communicating with those from different walks of life, it may be because you’re thinking about yourself instead of about them. If you allow your ego to get in the way, you will find yourself using your own language instead of the other person’s.” – Thompson

Are you having trouble communicating with people? Perhaps you should stop making it about you. Focus on the other person. Learn them. Then speak to them according to the ways you have learned they appreciate being spoken to.

Did this post help you? Email me if you have any questions!

Miscommunication is the sand in the gears of modern technology

Here’s the second post of 5 that I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.

I’m a very visual learner. I like to watch videos on Youtube to learn more about computers, pop psychology, and ant hills. Wait what? Anthills? Hear me out, I promise to get to it by the end of the post.

Working in a modern setting, we have to deal with constituents from all over the place. In order to get anything done these days, you need to rely on a team of people. Nothing meaningful can be accomplished by one person. That’s why we need to communicate so much.

But why doesn’t a single email or a single phone call cut it these days? I’ll tell you why. The channels of communication are so overwhelmed that we need to over-communicate our message to get results – making sure nothing slips through the cracks, letting our colleagues know when, why, and how we need their feedback.

Ken Makovsky gets the point across well:

“Just because you understand something doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else does. So it may bear repeating if, after asking if everyone understood it, someone says “no.” Sometimes people are too shy to admit they don’t understand, so repeating a message is the conservative thing to do. Further, I find that as important as I may think my message is, the minds of the so-called listeners may be wandering. Or the listener may be more focused on his or her retort than taking in what is being spoken” – Ken Makovsky, Forbes

Modern Technology by its nature requires a suspension of disbelief. Why? It’s impossible to know all the deep reasons behind some of the processes we use. We need to rely on the people around us to understand exactly what we are asking for, even if we are using less than ideal words. How do we deal with this? We need to over-communicate.

“We all make mistakes everyday, but listening, empathizing, asking, paraphrasing, and summarizing can go a long way in making you more effective.” – Thompson

And finally, anthills… I told you I’d get back to it.

Whenever I think of over-communication now, I think of anthills. Why? Watch this video with Jesse Schell talking about running a game development studio. He does a great job explaining how ants communicate in their colonies to make sure everything gets done to budget, in a timely manner, and correctly. Check out the following video at 3 minutes and 50 seconds in. “Ants don’t have meetings!”

Got problems? Over-communicate your needs!

How do you over-communicate with your team? Got any horror stories of what happens when you don’t over-communicate? Email me!

Empathy absorbs tension

This will be the first in 5 posts I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.

A few months ago I finished reading Verbal Judo. How did I find this gem? I had asked my Dad for recommendations on books that strengthen grit and give advice on dealing with people effectively. I’d already read “Grit” by Angela Duckworth and I wanted something more actionable. Verbal Judo was exactly what I was looking for.

Today’s post will focus on the following quote:

“Here is the bottom line of all communication: Empathy absorbs tension. It works every time.” – Thompson

Have you ever struggled to connect with people. Do you wonder why they don’t listen to you? You have great ideas. Why aren’t they willing to listen?

The answer to that question is a lot simpler than you think. They don’t listen because you don’t listen.

“Empathy means “to see through the eye of the other.” – Thompson

I’ve heard this a lot growing up. In order to see how a man sees you have to look through his eyes. In order to know how a man experiences the world, you need to walk in his shoes.

Yes, easy right?

I’ve had the hardest time empathizing because my empathy comes with some kind of agreement that the other person will listen to me next. This comes through much more clearly than you think. You can’t hide it.

Just take a moment here. Think of the last time you were talking to someone and you could just see it on their face. They are ready to say their point without even letting you finish yours.

This is the opposite of empathy.

So how do you show empathy? Stop trying. Just do it.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

Do this next time

Next time you’re listening to someone pour out their heart and soul to you just do one thing. Pay attention. Find the parts they are struggling most with. Locate the points where they trail off. Those are the most meaningful comments that few are brave or willing to follow up on, ask for clarification, and rephrase back to the person in need of empathy.

Thompson suggests the following:

“The next time you have an argument, before you start snapping back and using your words to address your own feelings, why not stop and analyze. What is the problem? How does my opponent see it? How is my opponent different from me? What constraints make it so difficult to deal with him today? And remember to keep a concerned and caring face. That in itself is often enough to deflect abuse.” – Thompson

Have you tried this out? Let me know how it worked out for you.

Hawaii Public Radio is the most intimate medium

I had the opportunity to discuss student employment in Hawaii and the Hawaii iOS Developer Meetup on the latest episode of Bytemarks Cafe.

Two days ago I was invited on to Hawaii Public Radio to be interviewed by Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa in the first 7 minutes of the Bytemarks Cafe radio show. Follow this link to listen.

Before the interview, Burt and I had a chance to discuss our takeaways from the Purple Prize the Native Hawaiian app building contest we attended last week. Ryan shot, edited, and post produced the video in 2 days! Unreal, hard-working technology connectors and thought leaders. So lucky for this opportunity!

Radio is intense. You can’t mess up. You need to be completely in the moment. Thinking time turns into dead air.

Once the segment I was on was finished, Nicholas Yee, a former DJ at the University of Hawaii’s radio station KTUH spoke very kindly of our mutual friends.

I mentioned that my wife loves public radio and was interested in seeing how it’s all made. Nick was so kind. He heard the request and gave us a tour of the entire operation! We even got to check out the performance space in the studio The Atherton.

The Atherton is a lovely, 70-capacity studio, that is scientifically tuned with bevels behind the wood paneled interior. Nick mentioned that they are recording in the space. I’d just finished filming the Career Fair at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 360 degrees with 2 Kodak SP360 cameras. The footage came out great. He gave me his business card. I hope we can collaborate in the near future.

At the end of the tour I asked Nick, “Do you feel like working at KTUH adequately prepared you for this job?” He smiled and said, “Yes.”