Can Yielding Really Give You *More* Power?
Today is the launch of John David Mann’s and my new book, It’s Not About You. This story, set in the same fictional town as The Go-Giver, expands on the first book’s Third Law, The Law of Influence. We see what happens when an unexpectedly wise mentor by the name of Aunt Elle takes the ambitious young Ben under her wing and shifts his focus in a way he never expected.
Here is a brief article highlighting just one of the ideas in the book. As usual, it’s a bit counterintuitive. I hope you enjoy it.
By Bob Burg and John David Mann
“The less you say, the more influence you’ll have. Do you know why that is?” asks Aunt Elle, the mildly eccentric octogenarian in our book It’s Not About You.
No, admits the protagonist, a struggling young executive named Ben, he does not.
“Because,” she says, “the more you yield, the more power you have.”
Ben hasn’t a clue what she’s talking about, and it’s easy to sympathize with him. On the face of it, this makes no sense at all. Doesn’t yielding mean giving up, giving in, saying “You win” without even a fight?
Not quite. In fact, yielding is one of the greatest secrets to great accomplishment in any sphere where other human beings are involved.
Yield does mean give, but not give in, and certainly not give up. It simply means, give the other person room to go first. Think about the traffic sign. Yield.
In negotiating prices, yield doesn’t mean go with their price — it simply means, let them make the first offer. In a potentially heated debate, yield means giving the other person room to have their point heard — and giving some time and space for overwrought feelings to calm.
Conscious yielding is the secret of judo, jiu-jitsu and aikido: instead of trying to overpower the opponent with force, let their move have full expression.
Abraham Lincoln was once told by a reporter that another government official had sharply criticized him. What did the president have to say about that? “I have great respect for the man,” replied Lincoln, “and if he has concerns about me, there must be some truth to it.”
The criticism was intended to draw Lincoln into a skirmish that would have distracted him from other business. Instead, his comment not only deflected the critique but also won the hearts of both friends and foes–and allowed the president to keep his focus on the more important issues at hand.
Lincoln’s maneuver was what a boxer calls a parry.
Watch a boxing match and you’ll notice that when one fighter throws a jab–a straight punch, usually with the left hand–the target will wait until the punch almost hits him and then deflect it away with the slightest flick of the right wrist. And here’s the amazing thing: the harder the punch, the less effort it takes to parry it.
This is exactly what Lincoln did. He yielded.
And in yielding, he won.