Ran across this article on my linkedin account a while back and it struck me how the author was able to weave Aikido into business and to be able to articulate it in a way where any interested person in business sales and/or marketing.
This is the first time that I’ve seen this type of presentation – combining “business speak” along with language that you’d normally find in a dojo. With that in mind, I was intrigued reading this for the first time and I wanted to share with you some snippets that I liked, as well as my own experiences utilizing Aikido principles in a work setting. Namely in my current position in part time retail.
To start off the legitimacy of the article begins with the author, Judy Ringer who happens to be a second degree black belt in Aikido and opened up her own dojo out in New Hampshire in addition to her work in business.
I like how she begins the first third of the article comparing and contrasting the idea of resistance using examples from another author named Peter Block and Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei. A quote from the article points out how resistance is seen in the “real” world nicely:
People use the phrase “overcoming resistance” as though resistance or defensiveness were an adversary to be wrestled to the ground and subdued. “Overcoming resistance” would have you use data and logical arguments to win the point and convince the client. There is no way you can talk clients out of their resistance, because resistance is an emotional process. Behind the resistance are certain feelings. You cannot talk people out of how they are feeling. ~ Peter Block
Judy continues to introduce Aikido as an “energy” art, utilizing “ki” or the energy from the attacker. An attack as she has described it is a gift, rather than as seen as an attack.
In Aikido, we embody this idea that “the attack is a gift of energy” by physically blending and uniting with the strike. Nage moves into Uke’s space, allowing the strike energy to flow past. As the strike is fully expressed, it loses its power to harm, and Nage is in a strong position to influence and move Uke. ~ Judy Ringer
She continues to the portion where she makes the connection between the energy of an incoming uke as that of a client. I particularly enjoyed how she lays out the connections. This position is appropriately named “Supporting the Opponent”. This is also where she utilizes the ideas of Peter Block and connect it to Aikido. Peter Block himself delves into how a clients resistance is tied to one’s feelings often fighting against that in sales/marketing often does not get said persons on your side in sales.
When we help the resistance get expressed, it diminishes and we are then working with a client who is ready and willing to learn and be influenced. ~ Peter Block
As explained by Judy Ringer, Peter Block’s assessment on the optimal client-customer relationship has been metaphorically reproduced in the uke-nage relationship in Aikido. In order execute any movement in Aikido, the nage must accept the “attack” of the uke, allow it to be expressed in its own naturalness, then the nage will be able to respond appropriately and most importantly – not in a manner that promotes resistance. Or as Judy states:
When we help the client, coworker, friend or family member directly express their resistance and clear the emotion, we transform our own resistance and move into connection with the person, the problem, and our highest purpose.
Judy Ringer is pretty spot on about the whole uke-nage relationship and how she utilizes Peter Block’s ideas and interweave it into her own translation of what Aikido is and how a salesperson can utilize these principles to sell a product. First thing I had trouble was perhaps the wording of the article – but that’s just about any Aikidoist who is going to read this article.
There is two things I’d like to compare and contrast with what she said.
First: “Supporting the Opponent”: From my training I wouldn’t go as far as to say supporting the opponent. The art itself promotes a unification of the uke and nage so there is none of the traditional “I hit back, I break your bones” stuff. Both uke and nage have a role to play and while at any one point, one can support the other, my training from my Sensei have stated that in the end uke and nage are two separate entities that energetically merge together. As I mentioned before I think it’s the same as Ringer Sensei’s assertions just different wording.
Second: “Utilization of Energy”: Probably another case of different wording. The term utilization of energy gives me the impression that we use the energy to our advantage. In training there has been *some* talk about ki, but instead in my dojo there was a lot of training towards being body-mind present in relation to the energies (“ki” in this case) given during the uke and nage exchange.
Play of words aside, I can attest from personal experience that the principles of Aikido can be and are applicable in a client-customer setting. I am talking of course from my experience in the retail industry. Too many people in this industry, too many high level, supervisory people in this industry are too impolite, too interruptive to customers, too stand-offish, and can be inconsiderate to customers. I remember one occasion just this past December where I had to call a manager for some override on a transaction.
Now this manager is a 6’2″, average build male. When he talks he has the “manager” voice – quite authoritative to the customers. For particular one he kept on interrupting her as she was explaining her problem. The issue itself was easily dealt with but I had picked up on how he kept on saying “Now hold/I understand/Wait…wait” every time she spoke more than five words. That was somewhat odd; in hindsight I thought that if it had been a male customer who he was talking to, the exchange would have been a completely different story.
Now granted I’ve met my fair share of annoying and incredible “what-the-hell-did-you-just-say-to-me” type of customers. I am also not going to lie to say that I’ve had my moments where I’ve given the metaphoric middle finger to customers who have caught me in a bad mood at work – some of it for legit reasons and other moments because I was pissed off. However even in those situations, the principles of Aikido can be applied to how simply allowing one’s center/core to develop in relation to the energy/ki of the situation. Even when you are in a bad mood yourself, you can “click into” the energies/situation therefore producing the appropriate response to customers demands. May they be the simple directional questions of the ones who ask for price changes contrary to store policies (those are particularly annoying).
Hope you enjoyed that piece!