I’m a big fan of the book, Never Split the Difference, by former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss. I geared up to put his principles into practice: I was going to ask Sensei to let me catch up to my girls in Tae Kwon Do, despite my four-month absence and his seemingly strict testing rules.
Asking him to deviate from a system he’s been using for two decades for my sake was a big ask.
I planned my approach. I would start with a “no” question a la Voss, ie: “Would it be impossible for me to get caught up to my girls?”
The idea is, with that wording, he’d likely say, “No,” which is what I wanted.
I had four points, Sensei’s possible counter-points, and my counter to those counters all ready to go, practicing them in my head for several days in advance.
When the night in question came, I prepped my girls to go directly to the van after class, so I could talk to Sensei alone.
My nerves ran high as Sensei and I meandered to the parking lot. I listened patiently as he talked about his parkour gym, finding people to video his jumps so he could analyze his technique, taking videos for others for the same reason, the open gym policy, the hours, the classes, exactly where the gym was located, that it might be near that one rock climbing gym…
Finally, he wound himself down. My heart pounding, I steadied and readied myself for the attack.
“So,” I began. “Do you think it would be possible for me to catch up with my girls?”
Darn it! That was not the “No” answer question I had so carefully prepped!
He responded immediately.