This could be the most important Law of all: The Law of Defensiveness.
At our emotional core, we’re all desperately grasping onto three basic ideas – the sense that we’re independent; that we are intelligent in our own way; and that we are, overall, a good and decent person. It doesn’t matter that a lot of the time this isn’t true – these ideas remain the cornerstones of our sense of self and we’ll defend them to the last.
Knowing this and learning how to manoeuvre our way around other people’s internal narratives, we can finally begin to exert influence on the world around us.
Robert takes the example of the rise of Lyndon Johnson. This prickly and driven young man was going nowhere fast in US politics, but once he learnt how to validate and play to other people’s emotional needs, his ascent was nothing short of astonishing.
What Johnson’s story reveals is that effectiveness and influence isn’t about having particular skills, abilities, or even about paying your dues. It’s about making other people feel good around and about you.
Robert reveals several key strategies to achieve this. First, we must play the role of the student: we must ask other people’s opinions and advice, putting them at their ease and allowing them to feel seen and heard. So often we go through life trying to charm people with our own ideas, but this frequently backfires. When we stop talking about ourselves and what we think, we tune ourselves to other people’s wisdom, experience and interests, opening the doors to deeper connection and ever greater possibilities.
Most people also crave validation so badly that they can rarely turn it down. Once you become a source of that sweet nectar, you’ll rarely have to ask for anything – they will want to do it for you.
This rapidly starts to feel creepy and manipulative – but why? Jon and Andrea examine this disgust reflex because, when we look closely, this is how human relations work… we just spend a lot of our time ignoring it.
Still, the ethics are confusing here. Are we merely making an unconscious habit into a conscious strategy, or are we lying in order to get what we want? Is this about finding ways to use people, or finding ways to connect and collaborate?
Ultimately, this Law is about practical empathy and learning to put our egos on hold. Instead of building walls around ourselves, it’s about going outside to explore the world and the people around us.
It’s also about the lessons we can learn from the Eagle of Resistance (tune in to find out what the hell that means…).
- The power of the John Wick system
- Honesty as a blunt – and often offensive – instrument
- D&D rules for everyday life
- How to pay an effective compliment
- Ned Stark redeemed?
- Punishing passive aggression
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