We don’t get to choose our family and definitely, not our parents. My parents were not only great people who provided a wonderful home with love, but they taught me so many magnificent things that still come back to me even as an adult.
Let’s go back to seventh grade. There was a guy, who by the way, went on to be a professional wrestler, among many other things in his life. To say the least, he was in great shape. He had arms that looked like tree trunks and he bench pressed more than anyone I have ever met, and his chest size proved it.
One day he said to a few of us hanging around, “I bet you guys cannot get me to the ground, so come on and try.”
Well, about four of us took on that challenge.
I need to describe my stature at this point in my life. My height was no more than 4-foot, 10-inches, and I could not have weighed more than 115 pounds. And I was not good at any sport, except for tether ball, which did not offer many college scholarships.
I forgot I had a pencil in my shirt pocket and while we were trying to “take Barry to the ground,” my pencil scratched his face, not bad, but a small scratch on his cheek. He was incensed and said, “Becker, you’re dead.”
Well, that was a scary moment since I now have one of the toughest guys in our junior high school who wants to kill me and basically beat me up.
I needed help and boy was I scared, so naturally since my parents and I were close, I told them. My father gave me the best advice that still holds true – at least with me – to present day.
Before I provide his words of wisdom, they are the complete opposite of what you would see in any movie or TV show. He did not take me in the backyard and give me fighting lessons. He did not show me how to master a right hook in boxing. He did not show me how to master kick boxing. He did not show me how to do a Vulcan nerve pinch (if you did not watch “Star Trek,” too bad).
He told me not to punch back.
The wisdom was so sound in every aspect of life as I got older and wiser, and I thank my dad for teaching me such an amazing strategy. He said, “Son, if you don’t punch back and just guard your face, it’s hard to keep fighting with someone who won’t fight back. You will take a few body punches, but he will stop since he has no one to fight with.”
It worked. Oh yeah, my arms were black and blue from being punched, and my ribs ached for the next few days, but that was it. In fact, we remained “friendly” until his death from natural causes.
That common sense my dad shared with me at 13 years old is still so powerful in many respects.
Let’s say someone is talking politics, religion or a highly-charged topic, such as abortion or capital punishment. They share their personal opinion and beliefs, and are very passionate about their thought process. Most people who tend to disagree will voice their thinking and viewpoint. Now, you just started a conversation that has the possibility to be very heated, spirited or intense.
If you do not offer your opinion or punch back and just say, “Uh huh, I see,” with no personal reflection, the conversation will discontinue. In fact, if you just change the conversation or topic without throwing any punches, you can’t have a fight or a lively disagreement. Pretty easy to do and as they say, not a bad game plan.
Yep, my pop saved me from many unpleasant conversations, street fights and even a few unpleasant confrontations.
Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.