HUAYU SAT BEFORE ME. A look of skepticism etched firmly across her face.
“But there are thousands of training companies in China. What makes your firm the best choice?” she said. From her tone, and fluency, she had clearly challenged other companies with the same sentence. And they had probably responded the same way.
“Yes, but we’re the best because we are: cutting edge, the leading brand, the highest quality”, or any number of subjective and therefore irrelevant retorts.” Huayu’s question was simply a trap. A trap because she knew what would be said, and then could counter the retort with a, “yes, but that’s just your opinion. What makes your company the best choice?”
Case closed. NEXT!
Thank fully, I knew Huayu’s tactic well. It was antagonistic, but then, so am I. My saviour is my knowledge of the taichi chuan communication technique.
“It’s a good question. There are lots of training firms in China, and you’re right that they are probably in their thousands.” Huayu was put off balance. There was no block to her verbal punch. She was now overextended.
“And that’s why winning ‘Training Firm of the Year in 2007 AND 2008’ means so much more, since there is so much competition in China,” I finished. Bam! Huayu was on the floor – metaphorically. I sat there calmly, and indicated the red chop signifying the awards on my business card.
“Impressive,” she said. “Right, when are you available for the training?”
So what is taichi quan communication? Well firstly, let me explain what is taichi quan. What it isn’t is the slow moving, grandmotherly movements you see in parks and in Scout halls. While there is a connection with the movements, the ‘quan’ signifies ‘fist’ – although this is an exaggeration, since taichi is mostly about using your opponents energy. For this reason, it is ideal for the more petite, but not necessarily the old. The real taichi quan masters can bend back a finger, or put pressure between a rib to bring down the biggest threat. I know. I saw my twenty-something, 95 kg red-headed friend fall to his knees during a demonstration with a master in his living room. The master was a portly 45 year old, who never broke a sweat. In fact, he hardly moved.
And that is the premise of taichi quan communication. Rather than block with two hands, and take the brunt of the insult, accusation or challenge, you step gracefully to the side, by agreeing with your opponent. This is something that your opponent will not expect. You then follow up with a ‘fact’, not opinion, as to why agreeing with the original statement works in your favour, or how you can both benefit from the problem being raised.
Let me demonstrate:
Opponent: “You haven’t paid your account. It is two weeks late.”
You: “Thank you for bringing up this delay. Now that I have your displeasure in writing this will help me push our finance department.”
Opponent: “Can you help with my report. It is urgent?”
You: “Absolutely, let me look at my schedule. Sure, I’m free next Thursday.”
Opponent: “Can you give us a discount?”
You: “Yes, of course. We always allow for discounts when the products are paid for up front.”
Opponent: “Why should we choose your company?”
You: “It’s a good question. Rather than give you my obviously biased opinion, I’m going to write down a list of companies that we have worked with this year. They can better answer that question.”
So before you face your next Huayu across the negotiation table, practice a little taichi quan communication in the office with your colleagues.