What are the Dance of Power
The old rules of dominant/subordinate power fail in the face of unrelenting change. The Dance of Power programs explore a different kind of power that can fuel excellence amidst chaos, drive collaborative process, and energize leadership no longer able to rely on "clout" alone.
Who can benefit from the training?
What are the results of the Dance of Power training?
The Dance of Power is innovative training that develops constructive power skills for all workplace relationships as well as individual responsibility on the job.
What are the results of the Dance of Power training?
Workshops are available in full day, multiple session and retreat formats, as well as keynote programs.
Have you ever been "ripped apart" in an argument? Felt "beat up" after a confrontation with a co-worker? Had a disagreement with someone who used "low blows" or "went for the throat" in order to defend their position?
We describe verbal confrontation with images from physical altercations - "low blow," "ripped apart," "go for the throat." The tactics of defending self in an argument often parallel those of defending self in a physical fight. I protect myself by inflicting damage on the other party, or by retreating and entrenching.
Unfortunately, these tactics are detrimental in a confrontation between parties involved in a continuing relationship. Ripping apart a co-worker to prove a point breaks down future communication and increases the likelihood of continued conflict. Backing away from confrontation cuts off communication entirely, leaving problems to fester and grow.
How is it possible to defend oneself in a confrontation and not do damage to the other party and to the relationship? The question comes down to finding the means to power one's defense in a way that is creative rather than destructive.
Outside of the realm of human interaction, power is generally thought of in terms of energy sources, e.g., the power of electricity, lasers, and microwaves. Power is also defined as heightened awareness and the increased information it provides, as in the power of a lens.
The martial art aikido provides another example of power as energy and awareness. In aikido, the process of defending oneself begins with clear mental focus and balance under pressure. Clear awareness makes it possible to safely get off the line of an attack and blend with the force, utilizing the energy of the attack to redirect the opponent's movement.
Translated into personal confrontation, the aikido process begins with staying calm and clear minded under the pressure of a verbal assault. "Why didn't I think of that..." is a comment often made after a confrontation when one regains the clarity of awareness that was lost during the heat of the argument. Learning to stay focused is critical for effective communication in conflict.
Aikido means "the way of harmonizing with energy." Momentum, velocity and acceleration are energies that propel a physical attack. The energies that propel a personal attack have to do with attitudes, mindsets, beliefs, interests and feelings.
Getting off the line of an attack in a verbal conflict requires the personal balance and clarity of awareness to hear the information presented without taking the disagreement personally. Allowing the energy of the attack means listening, making no attempt to block or attack what is said.
Listening provides the means to blend with the energy of an attack and utilize that energy to redirect the conflict in a constructive way. One listens to understand interests, motivations, and perspectives. One listens for possible connections, for places of mutual agreement or common goals, for similar needs that exist within the larger context of the disagreement. And one listens for possible misunderstanding--are terms being used in the same way? is information accurate? are needs and goals on each side really understood?
Expressing understanding, pointing out any common interests that exist and clarifying misunderstandings all correlate to the blending process in the physical art of aikido. (The personal process of blending, like the physical process, will not work if the connection is faked. If I pretend to blend with the force of an attack I cannot lead my opponent. Likewise, if an expression of understanding or agreement is false, the process will ultimately fail).
How does this provide power for constructive conflict resolution? In some cases staying calm, listening and expressing understanding can be enough to settle down an irate individual to the point where he/she will abandon the attack. A manager at a large furniture store who handles the most extreme of customer complaints described calmly hearing out a screaming customer on the phone. The next day the customer called back to apologize and suggest a reasonable solution to his complaint.
People are unreasonable and irrational around issues when they feel the need to defend themselves personally. When an individual feels that she/he has been listened to and respected, the response is often to let go of the personal defensiveness and deal rationally with the issues.
Negotiation in a conflict may involve a more active process of blending and redirecting. As manager with an oil and gas operating company, I was involved in contract negotiations for an operating agreement with a CPA from another company. Pressed for time, I opened the discussion by simply stating what I wanted in the contract. The CPA countered with a completely different set of conditions, non of which met my company's needs. As I listened, my first thoughts were that he did not know what he was talking about and he was wasting my time. To state this would have been to block and attack my "opponent." Remembering my aikido training, I found my balance and focus and started listening to understand the structure and purpose of his offer.
I asked questions and stated my understanding. Having made a good connection with the "energy" of his position, I then asked him how specific situations relating to my original proposal would be handled in his scenario. Upon examination, he realized on his own that what he was suggesting would not work. We then worked together, examining each of the issues to arrive at a mutually agreeable contract. I left the negotiation with all of my company's needs met, and a positive relationship with the CPA.
The energies propelling the CPA's action were his professionalism, his experience, his knowledge and his sense of responsibility, powerful resources that by blending with rather than blocking became the means for constructive resolution of our differences.
Constructive communication in conflict involves looking beyond the traditional power tactics of self defense. Understanding power in terms of awareness, energy and connection creates the possibility of successfully handling conflict while building positive relationships.
What People Are Saying
"There is tremendous power in the knowledge from Aikido. The training has given me insight into my reactions under stress, skills for positive response and relaxation, and knowledge about constructive options for handling conflict. It has helped me develop strength that is flexible, adaptive and flowing. This allows me to enter situations feeling poised and confident, and able to reduce or avoid conflict and head-on confrontation."
Send Us Your Stories
Past participants: let us know how you are doing. Contact us with any questions you may have, and send us stories about your experience with applying the skills and tools.
10117 West Berry Drive
Littleton, CO 80127
For more information about Dance of Power training programs, contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.