By: Simon Finlayson On: January 20, 2015 In: Coaching, Emotions, Learning, Life Comments: 2

keep-calm-and-practice-aikido-2You are at work, or in your personal life, someone approaches you who is clearly upset.

“Why did you leave such a mess in the office? I’m trying to work as well but there are papers everywhere, I can’t even SEE the desk nevermind using it for my computer! This is ridiculous!”


How do you feel right now?

Is your blood boiling and your heart racing? Want to Fight?

Do you want to shrink away in shame? Ready to Run?

Or are you cool, calm and ready to listen? The Dance can begin?

Whoever you are and wherever you live and work this is a typical situation that pops up everywhere in our lives. We cannot change that.

What we CAN do however is raise our awareness of our OWN reaction so that we can turn any potential Fight or Run situation into a Dance that enhances and benefits the experience of BOTH parties.


Aikido is an Ancient Martial Art where much emphasis is placed upon the Energy and Force of the opponent being used to ones own advantage.

With Verbal Aikido we learn to use the ‘Push’ or ‘Pull’ of the other person to move into a Dance of conversation where we can both reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

Recently in my own life I have experienced a lot of stress, personal and professional. Moving house, changing jobs, changing relationships…It all piles up and sometimes the lid of my patience just pops off and I unleash everything on whoever happens to be standing in front of me.  Realizing that I needed a tool to help me change this pattern, I worked with my coach to find a solution and he pointed me towards this useful video.


Watching this simple demonstration of a calm and curious response that leads to a completely different result than the initial aggression, I understood some simple processes that I could use for myself.

When you find yourself in a highly charged or confronting situation:

  • Breath…
  • Look at the other person’s body language and listen to what they say.
  • State facts about what they say or do: ‘You are very angry…’ ‘I can see that you are upset about the office being untidy…’
  • Let the other person give more information: ‘Yes! I just want to use the desk but it is full of papers!..”
  • Ask questions to find out what they REALLY want: ‘You want to use the desk, would it help if there was a clear space to work?’
  • Listen for more information…

By this time, as the video demonstrates, you are no longer Pushing or Pulling at each other but engaged in a Dance that will gradually lead you both to a satisfying solution.

This tool is not just for dealing with Confrontation, it can also be used in any EMOTIONAL situation where the strength of someone’s feelings could prevent them from expressing themselves; very useful with Children for example!

What situations do you find yourself in that escalate into a shouting match?

What would change if you used this process?


Image credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

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    • Iulia Saplacan
    • January 21, 2015
    • Reply

    I for sure will not feel the need to hit someone 🙂
    Thanks for sharing Simon. Actually I find it very useful as I am dealing with some really stressful situations lately. It could be the alternative to a lot of nervs.

    • iuliana
    • January 27, 2015
    • Reply

    Wau,amazing!!!!I always dreamed to learn aikido and certainly will implement it after your article. Absolutely great to have this creative approach toward conflict management and being a visual person and loving dance, it is a tremendous help to “see” the image of dancing couple in moments of tension.
    Thank you so much! I will let you know of progress in applying thus perspective.

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