January 17

Verbal Aikido

Several years ago I read an article about how to deal with conflict using the principles of Aikido. This year, I’ve been trying to figure out how to integrate this into my daily life and into interactions I have in my worklife. I find it a fascinating concept and I’ve been trying to use it with the two teenagers in the house. Here’s how it works: In Aikido, someone opposite from you comes at you with a negative energy. If you stand in this person’s way, you will have to use a lot of energy to stand up to his energy. You don’t want to waste your energy on one opponent because a stronger opponent might be around the corner. The idea behind Aikido is that you figure out a way to turn his negative energy on him. The classic example is when someone lunges toward you and you step aside, he will fall because his energy is off balance and yours is stable as you step away. Another way of thinking about it is that a fight cannot develop if you don’t participate in it.

There’s a whole concept of balance in Aikido. You cannot be in control if you are not balanced. If you are balanced though, you can move out of the way or turn the opponent’s unbalanced energy on him. So here are two ways to deal with conflict.

A: You’re late! I’ve been waiting here for 20 mins! Why didn’t you call?!

B: Give me a break! I’ve been so busy all day long! I got here as soon as I could! Why are you always yelling at me?

These people are opposing each other and they are using energy deflecting the negative energy of the other. The argument will escalate and they will have wasted a lot of energy for no return.


A: You’re late! I’ve been waiting here for 20 mins! Why didn’t you call?!

B: I am so sorry! You’ve been waiting out here for 20 mins! I feel so bad that I wasn’t able to reach you because I hate it when people make me wait. It’s the worst!

Now the two people are on the same side and the argument can’t escalate.

So I’m hoping you’ll try this today and let me know if it works for you. I just need to remember to use this technique more often because it always works for me. And I don’t know about you but I could use less drama in my life.