Verbal Aikido: Using Empathy to Disarm Aggressiveness

Verbal Aikido: Using Empathy to Disarm Aggressiveness.
March 23, 2015.
Verbal Aikido is a style of conflict transformation and resolution that involves treating the ‘attacker’ as a partner rather than an adversary. It may sound counter-intuitive at first, but protecting both yourself and the other is fundamental for the preservation of a balanced relationship – in the words of the founder: ‘If you seek to dominate, you’ve already lost’! But what’s often suprising is how effective the use of empathy is in disarming verbal attacks and reaching a positive emotional result in an exchange.

If you’re already familiar with Aikido you may already know that the physical approach simply demonstrates what is possible on so many other levels – emotional, intellectual, verbal and so on. Indeed, the Aikido philosophy illustrates that, no matter what we are confronted with in life, we can neutralize it by accepting, blending with and redirecting the energy, whatever form it takes.

In the peace education training specifically designed to transform verbal attacks, as developed by author and trainer Luke Archer, the ‘art’ is simplfied into three steps, making it easy for even children to grasp and use in everyday life:
1.Receive the attack with an ‘Inner Smile’ (a serene inner-confidence)
2.Accompany and blend with the attacker using verbal Irimi until destabilization
3.Propose a pertinent Ai-ki (an energy balance)

Through the methods and exercises explored in Verbal Aikido training, the learner develops a sense of self-control, an assertive style of communication, and works on the practice of deliberate intention. But if you want to give it a try straightaway, here’s a few pointers that will give you a kickstart!
1.DON’T worry if you find yourself getting caught up in a heated exchange. DO take the necessary time to ‘recenter’ when you realize you’re not calm!
2.DON’T try to dominate a situation or ‘win’ an exchange. DO insert the intention of harmony (at the very least, inner harmony) before you continue.
3.DON’T take anything anyone says personally… ever. DO consider that whatever is being said could be a reflection, a transfer or a projection of the speaker himself.
4.DON’T forget to be sincere when you’re trying to understand the other’s position (Irimi). DO avoid a sterile exchange by proposing an Ai-ki as soon as you detect a destabilization.
5.DON’T let the exchange continue further if you have proposed three consecutive Ai-kis and you still feel attacked. DO use all the exchanges you encounter as opportunities to practice and develop the art.

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 Filed under: Philosophy & Psychology


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