Mediators, negotiators, facilitators, lawyers, therapists, and analysts do it all the time.
When you understand the nature of the thing, it is almost impossible to avoid doing it.
When you do it, sometimes you feel as though you are manipulating somebody else into doing something that they wouldn’t normally do. But then you realize that kindness, patience, and humility begin to matter.
When it’s done, it’s done intentionally, not by accident, or even in a haphazard way, a reaction to something that another party said or did.
And yes, when you do it, you can still be taken by surprise. It just doesn’t happen as often.
In the past, people used to characterize it as “playing head games.” But really, once you understand that in many ways, individuals change, but the group doesn’t, then it’s less a “head game” and more a “gaming the system” game.
When you do it, you have to be careful to preserve the other party’s autonomy and rights to self-determination. Presenting all the options to get out of a conflict, without presenting the consequences as well (or even worse, allowing the other party’s imagination to ‘fill in the blanks’) lacks human empathy, and dares to challenge your own spiritual growth.
When it happens, it may seem like jiu-jitsu to someone watching from the outside (using the other party’s ‘throw weight’ of their language, rhetoric, ideas, or stories, against them), but the ability to
- listen actively and non-defensively,
- hear a story succinctly,
- and paraphrase that story back to the teller in the way the teller wants to hear it,
is not jiu-jitsu.
It’s just good form.