overly aggressive, insensitive, rigid, and have an unusual need to control
people and situations. Understanding these characteristics is the key to
effective counter play. Never giving an inch over anything, never letting
anyone take advantage of them, and trying to take charge of everything are the
essence of their play. When managing these players, first keep in mind that
they mistrust everyone and their motives. With this as a given, you can see
that they operate mostly out of fear and insecurity and honestly believe
keeping absolute control is the only way to be safe.
create a negative and emotionally charged environment for their game. Stepping
on the feelings of others and being harsh and abrasive keep others off balance
and preclude any personal involvements that might weaken or interfere with
their game. It is important for them never to be in a situation where they have
to deal with people as people.
use arguing and a reputation for going to war over everything as a technique to
keep others on guard and at an arm’s length. This fighting posture enables the
player to defend his turf and to keep the game away from emotional or
“feeling level” tricks. The game is and will remain a matter of who
has the most muscle and the greatest willingness to go to the mat over
With this in mind,
counter play is not complex. Yes, it is difficult. It requires great patience
and skill, but it is not complicated. Warriors are insecure and feel threatened
by almost anything. The key is to stay away from the usual technique of trying
to get cooperation by showing the other person how cooperation will work to his
advantage. With warriors, that is not an incentive to go along. Instead, the
skilled counter player says, “If you don’t want to go along with me on
this, I respect your choice. I thought I might be able to help you avoid the
problems you are going to have over this. If they are not of concern to you, I
have other things to do.”
For example, in
the illustration Brent would do better using this technique with Harold than he
does by getting into an argument. He can say, “Harold, I see your point
about the price and appreciate your concern. Nonetheless, it may be better to
test things out now instead of running the risk of your having to deal with irate
customers. What do you think?”
As you develop a
feel for pointing out negative outcomes to warriors, pulling it off depends on
neither arguing nor reacting to hurting comments. No matter how cutting the
barb, say, “Thank you for sharing that with me. My point is . . . .”
If the player starts to argue over anything – and he will – passively listen
until he stops talking. Now say, “My point is . . .” It is an
exercise in being thick-skinned. Do not react or respond to the garbage.
Assertively and calmly stay on task and on the point.
The rule for
managing warriors is not to be intimidated. Also, never come to the bait, no
matter how tempting or irresistible. The bait, of course, is the urge to defend
yourself, attack the warrior, become totally frustrated, and quit or simply
capitulate to his will.
It will help to
think in terms of a strong vacuum into which you can be pulled. The
aggressiveness and nerve of the player causes what psychologists call a
fight/flight response. There is an urge to strike out on the one hand and a
competing urge to avoid warriors all together on the other hand. Interestingly,
either response serves their purposes. As a skilled counter player, you will
find your purpose best served by doing neither.
How do you do neither?
The trick is to understand that what you are feeling is inside you. It is not
inside the warrior. The player only has the level of power to affect you that
you give to him.
For example, if
you are dealing with a warrior and if you feel the fight/flight urge, you need
to understand that the conflict is within you. It is not between you and the
player. It is your problem.
Once you catch on
to the problem within you, you take back your power. Now you need neither fight
nor flee. You do not need to stand your ground either. That is the same as
getting ready to fight.
Your goal is to
disempower warriors. This happens by doing nothing. Listen if you are
interested or have no choice but,
Do not let
the player affect your behavior or actions
Do not get
pulled into conflict or confrontation
knowingly do anything that gives the player any more power
If the situation
becomes desperate, think about something else, do not pay attention and
mentally back away for awhile. Better to be accused of not being attentive than
to fall into the player’s trap.