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Influencing Your Boss - 13 April 2010

One of the most celebrated jujitsu champions on the planet is Royce Gracie because he continuously beats opponents that are much larger and stronger than him. His biggest opponent was a sumo grand champion who weighed 221 kilos. Royce weighs only 80 kilos. Royce defeated him within 2 minutes.

Jujitsu is popular for that reason. A Japanese word meaning ‘art of softness’, jujitsu was developed as a way of defeating armed opponents without using weapons or armour. Today, it enables its practitioners to overcome their opponents irrespective of their size and strength. It teaches this skill by using four main principles: gravity, leverage, momentum, and inertia.

At work, your boss might be more of an opponent than a mentor, and more obstructionist than helpful. If that’s the case, you’re similarly faced with someone who’s metaphorically larger and stronger than you. To influence a person of such power, the same four jujitsu principles can be applied in the workplace to get you what you want.

Gravity: Throwing punches up high at tall people goes against gravity. Jujitsu masters let gravity work for them by aiming their blows towards pressure points lower down on a body.

Gravity at work is represented by the heaviness of an idea. If you’re trying to get your boss to buy into an initiative that’s too big, you might be punching too high. Instead, come up with smaller short-term initiatives in the direction of your big idea that would meet less resistance.

Leverage: Derived from the word ‘lever’, it’s an attempt to get a big impact with little effort. In jujitsu, the ultimate lever is the skeleton. Body parts are grabbed and used for extra force.

Leverage at work is anything that supports your claim. It’s the respected adviser on whose advice you’re relying. It’s the credible research you’ve got to substantiate your request. It's your back-up plan. It’s whatever you can grab and use to make you more believable.

Momentum: When fighters have momentum, their attention is focused too much on their next move. Jujitsu practitioners break this momentum with a blow to get them off balance.

Momentum at work is an uninterruptible boss. Get attention by using stories if they’re Expressive; statistics if they’re Analytical; be direct if they’re a Driver; non-confrontational if they’re Amiable. Adapt your communication style to suit their preferred method.

Inertia: When they're still, people are harder to throw than if they’re moving around, since movements can be redirected to make them fall. Jujitsu fighters get opponents moving.

Inertia at work is a lazy boss that just won’t budge. The fastest way to awaken these people is to create selfish urgency by showing how your solution solves their problem, rather than yours. Demonstrate how your idea will help them to meet their objectives, not your own.

Jujitsu champions only win tournaments by using all four of the above principles. Likewise, combine these when trying to influence your managers, and you’re bound to knock ‘em out.

 

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