Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba. The aim of Aikido is to defend oneself against an attack without harming the attacker. The essence of this martial art is never to confront the opponent head on but to use the force and momentum of the attack against our opponent by redirecting their force and throwing them off balance. This requires very little force from us, as almost all of the force is coming from the attacker. All we must do is observe the attack, understand its trajectory, step out of its way and gently lead our opponent by the hand - right into the ground.
Think about Aikido next time you are selling your ideas to a client.
Don't oppose resistance from clients.
Listen and watch intensely as they vent. Morihei urged his students to be ready to absorb 99% of the attack, to stare death in the face. You must face the bullets like Neo in Matrix. It is only by facing the opponent that you understand the nature of the attack, and you cannot defend an attack you do not understand. By facing, we do not mean confronting, we mean seeing and hearing exactly what the client is doing after we show our work.
Don't use your force.
The reality is - the client is paying for the canvas you will paint on. They have every right to feel strongly about their opinion. Which doesn't mean their opinion will benefit the project. Which doesn't mean that trying to force them not to have an opinion, or have a different opinion will help you. Forcing your way will do the opposite. Forcing your way will increase the resistance of the client who will find themselves having to defend their position with greater force. Instead, absorb everything they throw at you. Say nothing, listen attentively. The client will eventually stop talking, and if you said nothing...they will eventually ask you: what do you think? That is when you take the client by the hand. They are tired now. You reassure them that you understand their concern, you remind them of the objective criteria that you both agreed will make this project a success, you explain how your solution meets the objective criteria. We do not meet force with force, we absorb the opponent's force, let it dissipate and only then, we begin our defense - using our client's particular nature of attack as our starting point.
The best part is...
Sometimes all you have to do is: nothing. Stay silent. The whole room will be screaming for someone to say something. Say nothing. Don't look at the client. Look like you are intensely processing everything that the client just said. Better yet, actually do it. Sometimes, even the client is right. If you are a great artisan, you don't care who is right - as long as the right things happen to the project. If the client is wrong, say nothing. Don't nod your head, don't shake your head. Don't say "yes", don't say "no". When the client's strike does not get blocked, it just dissapears in thin air - it dissipates. There will be times when the client will be the first to speak (again) after their tirade. It's happened a few times in my career. After saying some things that could ruin a great idea, and no affirmative or negative response from me, the client looked around the room, and unsettled by a lack of resistance on my part, voluntereed:
"Well, I don't know...maybe it's just me. Hell, if no one else feels this way....let's leave it."
It is now that the master artisan skilled in Aikido will apply the finishing move. They lean toward the client, and kill them softly with:
"Are you sure...because we can..."
The client will interrupt, willingly submitting to our Aikido.
"No...no...it's fine. Let's leave it".
Everyone wins, nobody gets hurt.