Archive for December, 2012

The 48 Laws of Power: Using Communication to Convert an Enemy

By Bradley Dunn

In a speech Abraham Lincoln delivered at the height of the civil war, he referred to the southerners as fellow human beings who were in error.  An elderly lady chastised him for not calling them irreconcilable enemies who must be destroyed.  Abraham Lincoln replied, “do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” (Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power, pg. 12)

Communicating to Destroy Your Enemies

Every human being, throughout his or her life, has acquired at least one enemy.  An enemy is traditionally an entity who is opposing or threatening.  This definition is not entirely adequate.  For the sake of this argument, an enemy is defined as a person who opposes, competes against or dislikes you.  He or she may be a bully on the playground, a supervisor, a colleague, a business competitor, or a classmate.  All humans possess enemies.  What character in our life is more difficult to communicate with than an enemy?  Dealing with enemies requires a mastery of communication skills.  You must know your audience, prepare your communication strategy (written and verbal), employ body language, speak confidently, establish your goal, and ultimately execute the necessary communication.  Using these acquired skills properly, will allow any one person to destroy their enemy by making them a friend. Here are some tips I acquired when I read Robert Greene’s work.

The Importance of Enemies

A Japanese statesman once visited China to apologize to Mao Tse-Tung for his country’s invasion of China.  Mao responded, “Should I not thank you instead?  Without a worthy opponent, a man or group cannot grow stronger.”

Enemies keep us on our toes.  A worthy adversary breeds competition and excellence.  A person without an enemy has a monopoly on his own life.  He will not force himself to compete or grow stronger.  Rather, a person with no opponents will grow complacent, similar to a financial monopoly.

When An Enemy Must Be Converted

In most cases an enemy will evolve to a point when your relationship is no longer benevolent.  Eventually your enemy will aim to destroy you.  Traditionally, force has been the only option to successfully destroy your opponent.  Today, communication should be our only choice.

In Imperial China, after the fall of the Han Dynasty (200 AD), the country was infected by bloody coups to overthrow and kill ruling emperors.  Year after year, new rulers took power and the old ones were killed.  When Emperor Sung took power, he knew the odds were against him.  It would be only a matter of time before he was killed and his throne would be taken.  This dire, and likely outcome, demanded communication.  Emperor Sung commanded all ruling generals in China to attend a banquet he was having.  At this banquet, the Emperor communicated his enemies away.

How to Destroy Your Enemies with Communication

Eventually destroying your enemies becomes a real necessity.  In today’s world, force is not an option.  In our civilization we must communicate with our foes.

1)  Identify your enemy.

Emperor Sung knew that the ruling generals of China were his enemy.  The Generals sought the power of the throne.  All of the Generals in the banquet’s attendance had the desire, and means, to destroy Emperor Sung.  Once you have successfully identified your enemy you may proceed with your communications.

2)  Why are they your enemy?

The ruling generals of China sought power.  Emperor Sung was only an obstacle.  The Generals wanted the riches and perks of the throne.  You must identify your enemy, and the reason they are your enemy.

3)  Find your enemy’s pressure point, or thumbscrew (their true motive)

Your enemy’s initial reasoning is obvious.  The goal of destroying an enemy is not to surrender.  The aim of destroying an enemy is to remove opposition and continue your pursuits.

If surrender is not an option, then you must find your enemy’s thumbscrew (pressure point).  You must identify what it is that they actually seek.  The Generals of China did not desire the throne as much as they did the stability, riches and perks it offered.  This underlying desire was the General’s thumb screw.

4)  Develop a strategy (non-communication)

Once you have identified your enemy, the reason they are your enemy, and their thumbscrew, you are in a position to destroy them and convert them to an ally.  Emperor Sung knew that the Generals were his enemy, he knew they sought his throne, and he knew that they sought only the perks of the throne.

All of this information is crucial!

He used this information to devise a plan that would cater to his needs and the desires of his enemies.  Emperor Sung would offer them peace of mind, safety and estates where they could find the perks they so desired.

5) Develop a Strategy (communication)

Once you have established your strategy and your aims, employ your communication skills.  You must decide upon a communication medium.  Will you use a memo, a letter, an email, a phone call, a speech, a meeting, a presentation or even a banquet?

Often times writing to enemies is dangerous.  The lack of personal presence will allow you enemy to dismiss your proposition easily.  In addition, your enemy can use your own written words against you.  A phone call will be more effective than writing, but ultimately face-to-face communication is the best option.

(How to speak with your enemies)

1)      Employ a civil and progress-oriented tone.

2)      Appear confident and ready.

3)      Be prepared.  (Know your strategy, know your enemy, know his or her possible responses)

4)      Address the person as a teammate.

5)      Never make an accusation.

6)      Begin with…..

“You have gained much respect from me in the past years….”

“You and I are extremely similar, (provide a flattering example)…”

“We are not best friends, but we can be powerful allies…”

Establish a civil conversation base using these phrases.  By avoiding hateful language you open the grounds for productive conversation.  “Disarm your enemies with kindness.”

7)      Appear open and ready to discuss the matter at hand.  You should not seem forceful or motivated by self-interest.

8)      Discuss your conflict as a separate entity.  By doing this, you may both bond as you criticize the conflict.  “The enemy of my enemy, is my friend.”  Lead with reasons that your conflict is unproductive to your enemy’s cause and follow with an example from your side of the conflict.  Portray the conflict as the enemy and you will bond over your common enemy.

9)      Twist your opponent’s thumbscrew.  If you have prepared correctly you have determined your opponent’s underlying motives.  Often times thumbscrews include:

  • Self Interest
  • Reputation
  • Safety

10)   Provide a solution that caters to your opponent’s thumbscrew.  Your solution will have your best interest in mind, but it should appeal heavily to your opponent’s motives.  Solve the conflict before your conversation.  Emulate their perspective and ensure that you are offering a solution that can’t be refused.

11)   Agree upon your solution.  Your solution may not be the final outcome, but you should ensure that the agreed upon solution will serve your interests, establish an alliance, abolish the malignant conflict.

This Strategy in Motion:

Emperor Sung employed all of these communication tactics.  At the end of the banquet, the Emperor requested an audience with all of the Generals.  He immediately disarmed them with kindness.  He opened the grounds for productive communication.  He then appealed to their thumbscrew or pressure point.

He addressed their motives without making an accusation.  He stated that under any circumstance, a General would be foolish to deny power if their subordinates thrust it upon them.  He told them that he trusted all of them and knew that they had his best interests in mind.  He flattered their conquests and complimented them in various fashions.

He twisted their thumbscrew.   The Emperor told them all that it is stability, glory and riches that they all sought.  The Emperor recognized their motives and appealed to their need for stability and peace of mind.  He gave each General an estate of their choosing and a guarantee of safety under the new regime.

“The best way to pass one’s days is in peaceful enjoyment of riches and honor.  If you are willing to give up your commands, I am ready to provide you with fine estates and beautiful dwellings where you may take your pleasures with singers and girls as your companions.”

All of the generals obliged.  They now had everything they sought.  Their gratitude made them all friends and allies of the throne.  Most importantly, Emperor Sung had destroyed his enemies by making them friends.  Emperor Sung would rule China until he died, starting one of the longest lasting dynasties in the country’s history.

If you didn’t read anything above, READ THIS!

Know your enemy.

Know your enemy’s thumbscrew (underlying motives).

Do not threaten or accuse.

Plan your strategy and know your outcomes.

Do not treat your enemy with emotions; treat the person as an opponent on a sporting field.

Move your enemy and make the person a friend.  By making the enemy a friend, you destroy the problem.  Destroying an enemy, realistically, will always be for your own self-interest.  However, the process can, and should be, productive and positive.  The world’s leaders, and you, must employ this strategy to ensure that all competition is civil.

December 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm 2 comments

Want a return offer?

By Xiangpeng Pan

Now that you have your summer internship offer, do you want a return offer at the end of summer so that you can fully enjoy your last year of college instead of cold calling firms to find a job? For most people, the answer is a definite “Yes.” While you can never be 100% sure about whether or not you’ll get your return offer before the decision comes out, you can significantly improve your chances if you read the following tips.

Attitude is Key 

As a young professional who has just stepped into the industry as an intern, you can provide relatively limited value for the firm. Some students who excel in college courses can’t wait to show how much they know to their bosses and colleagues. This attitude is a mistake – you are likely to make yourself look foolish in front of industry experts unless you are a super genius.

Steve Jobs once told students: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” This is exactly the attitude you should have. No matter how good you are, you should always be eager to learn and practice as much as possible. When you have finished the work assigned by your supervisor, you should actively look for opportunities to help your colleagues. In addition, you should utilize resources like internal training materials or in-house training sessions to develop yourself.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

Don’t brag about yourself and end up screwing up. Setting expectations low at first would be a better idea. Since your colleagues probably need your final products as part of their work, they need you to deliver on time–or you’ll mess up their schedules. During my summer internship, another intern once promised that he would finish the pitch book on the same day. However, when the team needed the pitch book the next morning for final review and modification before the client meeting, he failed to deliver it. The whole team had to stop its work and help rush out the slides before the meeting. You don’t want to be that guy, right?

Be Careful with Communication 

Communication in a corporate atmosphere can be very different from daily life. The way people communicate is closely related to the culture of the firm. Therefore, you should learn how other people within the firm are communicating with each other and follow the rules. Here are some general tips:

  • Emails: Keep them succinct. Your colleagues are busy and probably don’t have time for a lengthy email. They will appreciate your effort to summarize all the information in a concise email.
  • Phone calls: Make yourself available all the time and don’t be shy. Everybody wants to enjoy the time after they leave the office; however, if you are an intern who is striving to get a return offer, you should be available to help your boss or colleagues whenever they need you the most (probably over the weekends or late at night.) Furthermore, students should not be shy about making a phone call instead of writing a lengthy email to explain information clearly.
  • Meetings: Be prepared and speak only when appropriate. As I said before, you probably don’t know everything as an intern. Hence, you are expected to be a good listener and should not interrupt anyone who is talking unless you are asked to deliver your ideas by the speaker. When you are asked to share your opinions, respond tactfully and insightfully to show your preparation and creativity.

You need no magic to stand out – just have a great attitude, over deliver the products and follow the communication style within the firm. Go ahead and get your return offer!

December 2, 2012 at 1:02 pm 3 comments

Wait, Are You Serious? Sarcasm in the Business World

By Mary Ellen Weylandt

Since the beginning of the digital era, many colleagues, friends, employers and employees alike have confused or offended each other in the workplace due to sarcastic comments.

A phrase, as simple as “Computers are down at the office today…so devastated,” can be interpreted many different ways.

More and more people are sharing their opinions on their social media accounts – and not just for their friends but also for the whole world to see. With the use of social media in the business world growing exponentially, understanding how sarcasm can affect communication is very important.

As a sarcastic person myself, I decided to look into the ways that sarcasm is and is not acceptable in the world of business communication today.

Sarcasm with the Advent of Social Media

Have you ever read a tweet and thought to yourself, “He can’t be serious.”

I am known for having a fair amount of sarcastic tweets, but my account is private and my followers know the type of person I am.

The danger comes with public accounts with thousands or millions of followers. As more and more businesses and celebrities are using social media to reach their consumers and fans, they must be cautious of understanding the customer base and how they are coming across to those customers.

Businesses also must be wary of sarcastic responses when analyzing the responses consumers post about their products on social media. Companies that make social media analytics software have run into many issues in deciphering consumers’ true feelings. This issue was especially problematic when trying to determine voters’ opinions during the most recent election.

Sarcasm in International Business Relationships

With globalization, businesses professionals are communicating more and more with people in other countries. While some cultures, such as the British, may be fonder of the tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, sarcasm can easily get lost in translation with people of other cultures. Avoid sarcasm when conducting business internationally.

More Than Just Words

Long gone are the days when everyone knew exactly what a winky face or a smiley face meant. These days, one exclamation point can have a drastically different meaning than two and an ellipsis is worlds away in meaning from a period.

To avoid the problems associated with sarcastic tweets or posts on social media accounts, many celebrities and businesses have created their own jargon to denote sarcasm. Aliza Licht, who controls the DKNY Twitter account and is known for her sarcasm, has begun to use “(*S)” in her posts when using tongue-in-cheek language. Others use jargon such as “/S” to make sure their post is accurately interpreted. Weylandt Blog ImageSarcasm Success Stories

The Onion has been hugely successful as America’s satirical news outlet, reporting on everything from politics to sports. There is a time and a place for sarcasm. Readers are not confused because they know what they are getting into.

Sarcasm isn’t bad. At times, with more personal relationships or in more informal settings, it can lighten the mood and create a more friendly work environment. However, everyone should be wary of how he or she is using sarcasm in professional communication.

December 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm 4 comments


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