Avoid resistance

Avoiding resistance is a smart way to fight. To fight for what you need to achieve.

As a scuba diver you learn that it usually does not make much sense to swim against a current. Even if it seems to be a weak current you might find out after a short while that it costs you too much power to swim against it. If that happens under water you might run out of oxygen real quick. On the surface it should be less critical but if the current takes you away from your boat out to the open ocean you might easily panic as well. The key to survive here would be to not allow panic and to not fight. You better should accept that you can not win against the current and spend more effort to send signals to the boat so that they become aware of your situation and may pick you up. Or you might decide to swim against the current in a 45 degree angel, one way to may be get out of it without loosing to much of your energy.

Currently I am reading the book “Manic – Fluch der Vergangenheit” ( English title: “The book of the dead” ) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I would not call it an outstanding book but it is surely a nice thriller to read in the evening. The story is around an old Egyptian burial chamber – once revealed somewhere in the underground of the New York Museum Of Natural History starts causing a lot of strange, mysterious and violent events.

FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast it sitting in prison because of a crime he probably did not commit ( I haven’t read the previous books in this trilogy ). Another FBI Agent wants to break him so that we would confess that crime. They move him into a cellular confinement to achieve that. He is a strong guy, thus this alone would not break him, but what they hope will break him is a neighbor prisoner in the area, whom they all call the drummer.

The drummer does not sleep a lot and spends all of his time drumming. This permanent drumming must be something very annoying if you have to listen to it for more than 30 minutes. The guardsmen who brought Pendergast to this place leave right away and are very confident that he will start confessing that crime very soon.

The following scene described in this book is the best piece of it I have read so far. On a few pages the author(s) describe in a very comprehensive way what Pendergast is doing in this situation and I found this very thrilling.

He listens to the drumming for a while – and very soon starts to drum on his own. He is not an expert in music, rhythms or drumming, thus he starts experimenting first. He explores his cabin to discover what he can use for drumming and how: the bed, the walls, the wash-basin. He starts with simple rhythms, experiments with different tempi and volume, starts to try more complex rhythms. As he is getting more used to it he starts to follow what the drummer is drumming. After he finds out that he is able to accompany the drummer  he also realizes that somehow he is building a relationship to this drummer. And then he tries to vary a little bit what the drummer is alleging, to vary a little bit the pace, a little slower some times, a little faster. This goes for many hours into the early hours of the morning.

And suddenly the drummer is following his drumming ! He not only has managed to create a relationship to this man, he even managed to take over leadership. The drumming was supposed to break him, but he used that situation to accept it, to explore it, to use it himself, to even become an expert and leader in this.

It is only two hours before sun rise when the drumming from the neighbor cell suddenly stops.

“Who … who are you ?” asks the drummer, confused, impressed, exhausted, willing to talk instead of drumming.

Aloysius Pendergast managed to stop the drumming not by trying to fight against it, by trying to withstand, but through actually accepting and using it to his own advantage.


This very impressive scene reminded me of some very successful experience I made during one of those many classes I went through to train social skills. This class was about project management in a project team environment …

The class has been split into two teams. Every team was supposed to develop and give a presentation to the other group and this other group has been instructed to actually do everything to disturb this presentation by asking questions all the time or question things said. The other team was the first to present and our team had the role of the “bad guys”, thus as soon as the presenter of the other team started his presentation we did everything to stop him from delivering this successfully and bombed him with all kinds of nasty questions and comments. They did not have any chance to even start the presentation, to make their points, the entire exercise ended in chaos and frustration.

Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

Next we had to change roles and I had been chosen as the one to actually give the presentation of our team.

What do you do in such a situation ? You know the other party will be doing everything to kill your presentation. Should you enforce some rules, ask them to postpone questions to the end of the session, asking for more discipline ? It might work but if the objective of the group of people you are talking to really is to make you lose rules and discipline won’t work.

My advantage of course was that I knew what would happen. I started my presentation and before finishing my first sentence I got interrupted by a very aggressive question. I stopped my presentation, grabbed a chair, walked over to the group of people gathered around a table, sat down together with them (at this point everyone looked very surprised at me, including my own team) and started answering their questions and participating in the discussion they wanted to have. I actually encouraged them to ask whatever they wanted to know. I noticed that they started to lose patience.

“Weren’t you supposed to give a presentation ?”, I got asked after a while.

“Sure”, I replied. “But obviously the discussion we are having currently is more important to you. Thus we should finish this first before we continue with my presentation.”

This went on for a while and I noticed that they became more and more impatient. The instructor of the class just watched and let everything happen.

“We really need to get to your presentation now”, was a message from the other team I received a little later.

“No problem, any time”, I responded, stood up and gave my presentation without any further interruption.


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