Better Communication: Wu-Wei Techniques (Verbal Kung-Fu)

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Wu-Wei: This old martial arts principle from the East is described as “yielding to an oncoming force in such a way as to render it harmless and at the same time, change its direction by pushing it from behind instead of resisting it from the front.”

Or, Verbal Kung-Fu!

Western translation: Better communication = Be assertive!

When there is a conflict between two or more people, conditioned response is to cope by fight or flight.

Flight responses are passive and range from giving into an unreasonable request from your mother, accepting a role established by your mate, lying and making up an excuse when your friend wants to borrow your car, to complete withdrawal, hiding from any contact with potential adversaries.

Fight responses are aggressive and range from lightly veiled sarcasm directed toward your mate, childish yelling at the repairman who is an hour late getting to your house, to actual physical violence.

Both responses result in unpleasant emotions of fear and anger, usually failing as an effective method of coping with problems.

So from childhood we learn to deal with our problems indirectly, and often dishonestly. We repress our real feelings at the expense of our self-respect and often our physical well-being.

Assertion is commonly mistaken for aggression, but understand that to be assertive means that you are standing up for your basic human rights. Aggression is a matter of forcefully violating the rights of another, and there is no excuse for such behavior.

An important part of assertiveness is showing consideration for the feelings and rights of others, without letting your kindness or empathy be used as an opening for manipulation.

13 Best practices of assertiveness tactics (Wu-Wei):

1. It’s best to describe other’s behaviors, rather than analyze other’s motivation.

2. It’s best to focus on other’s feelings rather than on other’s attributes.

3. It’s best to keep the conversation on specific issues rather than making general complaints.

4. It’s best to focus on the “here and now” (the present) rather than the “there and then” (the past or the future).

5. It’s best to keep the conversation directed toward changeable behavior and avoid comments toward unchangeable behavior.

6. It’s best to be accepting of other person’s response instead of rejecting or arguing with the other person’s response.

7. It’s best to be active, not passive.

8. It’s best to be open and direct with clear meaning, not hidden with meaning unclear.

9. It’s best to talk “with” others, not “at” others.

10. It’s best to strive for two-way communication, not one-way or one-sided communication.

11. It’s best to stick with one issue instead of trying to deal with many issues at the same time.

12. It’s best to seek to understand first, then to be understood.

13. It’s best to be happy and connected rather than “right” and disconnected.


And It’s Always Best to Marry YourSelf First!


About Ken Donaldson


2 Responses to “Better Communication: Wu-Wei Techniques (Verbal Kung-Fu)”
  1. Nancy says:

    Hi Ken! Just wanted to say “Thank you” Great stuff! I like #13 best. I made a copy for me and my guy! 😀

  2. Cathy says:

    Sometimes it’s good to give the situation an overnight cooling off period too. My first response sometimes is too emotional so by waiting, I can step back and be more calm and thinking more clearly.

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