Sunday, 20 January 2013

Lion Taming

Lion Taming is a metaphor for the activity of trying to handle CEOs, leaders, Type A personalities, major politicians, aid donors and people of influence in order to bend them to one's will.
The name comes from an interesting book called Lion Taming by Steven Katz.
IMHO the most ignored and most important part of psychology is the psychology of how to handle these people.  Let's say you come up with a brilliant idea for fixing the economy, curing mental health problems, solving the Arab-Israeli conflict - whatever, the hard work starts AFTER you have come up with the solution, because most people don't want problems solving, they want to hold on to their problems and they don't want someone else pissing on their territory.

We have just come back from a literacy conference in Nepal, where the good news is that they recognise that they have a serious literacy problem, and the bad news is that when we offered a solution, the audience was (mostly) stupefied into silence.  In fact, we are probably the only people who know how to handle Nepal's literacy problem (after all, our Indian activities are proof), but I haven't had a single phone call from the Nepalese Min of Ed begging me to sort his problem out. 

The ONLY way I know how to handle these people is to tell them that they are absolutely right, no matter what they say.  I may be the only time it is morally defensible to flagrantly lie.
I am embarassed to say I have several friends in the USA who are staunch Republicans and are pro-guns and anti-welfare.  I have found that telling them that they are absolutely right has a wonderful effect  - they forget what they were arguing about and change the subject.

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