12 Apr Going Viral This Week: The Power of Calm Persistence
It’s rare that we ever get what we want by blowing up over it.
With that in mind, I couldn’t help but be struck by this image of a young woman smiling into the face of an enraged protestor. The photo went viral on social media this week. Television host Piers Morgan hailed the picture as “photo of the week” and shared it on social media with the caption: “Enraged EDL racist stared down by amused, contemptuous Asian woman.”
The woman’s name is Saffiyah Khan and the photo was snapped during a protest in Birmingham, England. She said the picture was taken when she stepped in to defend a woman wearing a hijab, who had been surrounded by a group of the protesters after she called them racists.
What I particularly like about this image is that it shows a great example of what social psychologist call “the power of calm persistence.” It’s a pretty simple idea, really. The idea is that we have a much better chance of getting what we want if we stay calm and composed rather than explode into the kind of heated rant shown here.
The idea that you can actually change someone else’s mind or political opinion by openly attacking them is folly at best. It usually only serves to reinforce whatever positions each party already has. Saffiyah Khan’s demeanor has a much better chance of directing attention and sympathy to her cause than that of the young EDL man.
Beyond that, whenever you find yourself in a “low-power” position you cannot afford to blow up with a person who has more power than you do. One way to gain more power in such a situation is to be patient and avoid giving up out of anger or frustration. If you do this well enough, you can sometimes alter the power dynamics enough to get your point across – just as Saffiyah Khan did.
Here are a few tips on how you can use the power of calm persistence to help get what you want:
- Remain pleasant and calm
- Ask the “other side” for their help in solving the problem
- Tell them all the steps you took to try and get to a solution
- Avoid taking your frustration out on those in the “low-power” positions
- Use humor – it always helps – as long as its not at someone else’s expense
Instead of blowing up, try the power of calm persistence; it might just go viral!