Over on the XP list, someone posted a link to an article entitled A Soft Answer. It’s a great story about an incident on a subway train between someone trained in Akido, an unruly drunk man, and a older Japanese man who shows truly effective communication skills:
Now it was my turn. Standing there in my well-scrubbed youthful innocence, my make- this- world-safe-for- democracy righteousness, I suddenly felt dirtier than he was.
As the train pulled away, I sat down on a bench. What I had wanted to do with muscle and meanness had been accomplished with a few kind words. I had seen Aikido tried in combat, and the essence of it was love, as the founder had said. I would have to practice the art with an entirely different spirit. It would be a long time before I could speak about the resolution of conflict.
This was rather timely as a particular message board I frequent I got “attacked” by an anonymous poster questioning my very ethics. Note the choice of words there – I truly felt like I had to defend myself, and no matter how much I try to take time, there is always an emotional aspect to conversations that is hard to keep down. Hopefully this article will continue to remind me how to communicate effectively with other people – even those that seem like all hope of reasonable conversation is lost.