How effective are we at communicating with our kids? Read down to the last line of this article and judge for yourself.
In talking about aikido and conflict resolution, we use the word "escalation" a lot. We give it a negative meaning, that of moving a conflict to one of its next stages in the negative direction. In our training, it indicates that partners are starting to retaliate against each other, in some sort of ego-competition that eventually stops being aikido and starts being violent; in other conflicts, it has a broader meaning of adding to the tension of the conflict, making it more difficult to resolve (people yelling at each other, personal insults, physical attacks).
I got to thinking about this today because after training up at Suginami Aikikai in the city this morning, three of us stood on the sidewalk outside the dojo as a man came over from the bus stop across the street. He stopped at the corner maybe 40 feet away and started exclaiming some confused thoughts, that seemed to amount to "why would you train with each other when you can learn to beat each other up? and since you can beat each other up, I'd be scared to train with other people". We just stood there. The deshi inside the dojo notices everything happening outside, and came to the window.
What to do? We needed to go to lunch, and we needed him to go away peacefully. We could have treated him like a threat, or just a hostile, but that would be an escalation, because he wasn't threatening us and likely wouldn't have been a danger if he had. Clearly he had something on his mind that he needed to let out; I thought of that, and thought of how my old teacher had handled similar situations, and it dawned on me: agree with him. No need to argue, explain aikido to him, anything...just wait for a point where it might make some sense to agree with him. And I did, and he seemed satisfied, and meandered back to his bus stop.
I'm good at this sometimes.