"Pity the warrior who has slain all of his enemies." - Klingon Proverb
First off, just because Klingons are a race of made up warriors doesn't mean that you can't use their proverbs.
Honestly what is the difference between made up cultures and "historical" cultures that are so old they exist only in books?
Second can a warrior really slay all of his enemies? Think about that for a second. ALL OF YOUR ENEMIES. Every single one. Dead. Mort. Seriously. Even if we are talking about hypothetically slaying your enemies in business is that even possible?
Maybe you're just nicer than I am.
So if you have slain all your enemies, I'm sorry. But if you're like me, and I'm guessing 99% of the population of the world that is trying to make something of themselves is, you probably have an enemy or two in your life. It's natural. In fact the one true lesson about success and life is that the higher you climb, the more people pop out to try and bring you down.
But here's the thing, it's hard to slay an enemy. I mean think about it. You have to put on your armor, pick up your weapon, and then do battle. All without the guarantee that you are going to be victorious in the end.
Sure Sun Tzu advises us that those who win first and then do battle will win, while those who seek to do battle and then win will lose, but what if both parties sought to win and went to battle? Do you tie each other? Is it a draw?
Is having your own mini-Korean DMZ worth it?
What all veterans know is that there is a time to go to war and there is a time to talk. This has been ingrained in us because we were the big stick that our country carried, and the stick didn't come back whole. Yet in our professional lives outside of the military (and sometimes our personal lives) we take every affront, every challenge, every person who disagrees with us as an attack to which we need to reply. But even if we could win every argument, subdue all of our enemies, would we want to?
An army of one can only do so much.
Sometimes it might feel as if we hold our tongues, don't lash back, that we are the ones who are automatically surrendering our right to be right. However there is a difference between retreating and bearing through a barrage. One of the greatest lessons I learned was from a consultant who worked with me. During a meeting, I wanted to jump up and begin to argumentatively force people into my way of thinking. The solution was deceptively simple. But he stopped me and said! "Josh, let them talk and get tired. They'll get to where you need them to be. You just need to steer them if they get too far adrift."
More can be done as a smiling Socratic ninja than as a heavy handed dictator.
Just like being a soldier, being a smiling Socratic ninja requires practice and skill. To be certain, there will be times where you will have to draw your sword and slay your enemy, however you will have to do that much less and will probably find yourself in the amiable position of having others go do battle for you if you practice these skills:
1) Understand that 99% of people are approaching a problem from a desire to try and genuinely solve it.
2) Understand that 100% of people view things from their own perspective, try to comprehend the "why" and "how" they are viewing an issue in such a manor.
3) Don't get trapped in tangential off shots. Focus on the issue at hand.
4) Realize that once an issue becomes an argument, you are now competing with someone to be "right" which means someone has to be wrong. Try to reach a compromise before this happens.
5) Ask questions that help clarify their position before making your case.
6) Ask questions that have them admit facts that you know are pertinent to the conversation at hand.
7) If you have to get into an argument, it is much better to do it without anybody else around, because it is much easier to smooth feelings and help the other person save face if no one else is around to witness the argument.
While we all have to be able to live and operate as ourselves, if you practice these steps you’ll find yourself needing to slay less enemies and getting more done.