Are You Willing to Be Silly if It Gets You a Result?

16 September 2022

By Linda Ferguson

What do you do to prepare for the stuff that takes your best thinking or your best presence? It sometimes seems that conditioning yourself is a grim, disciplined process. But discipline will only take you so far.

As I was driving this weekend, I was listening to this podcast. The story started and I thought, “this is about pattern interrupts.” And then, as it progressed, I knew it was about Verbal Judo. I studied the book almost 20 years ago. It overlaps NLP in many ways, including its emphasis on how doing the unexpected can create an opening for doing what you want to do.

The thing that was missing in the podcast (and the book) was what creates the presence of mind to ‘lightly deflect’ conflict. It’s not enough to know that surprise will create an opening. You have to be able to execute that surprise while you are challenged or scared or angry.

A police officer who enters a domestic situation and does something unexpected is also doing something brave. You might think it’s brave because it’s embarrassing (it could be) but it’s also brave because they are making light in a tense situation. They need to hold a state that supports surprise instead of the state that supports more conflict.

Could you do that? Could you face down a challenger in a meeting (or at the dinner table) with humour or interruption? Would you be willing to appear ridiculous if it created an opening for making the change you wanted to make?

Most people aren’t willing to try it. We’re like the basketball players who would never take a granny shot even though there’s evidence it’s more accurate than the “cooler” approach to free throws.

What are you willing to try to be more effective?

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