It seems to me that no matter how you walk, you are always going to be stumbling over other people’s concerns, other people’s desires, and other people’s understandings.

There is no getting around it:  The World is full of other people and every one of those guys have their own world-views and their own agendas.  They get in your way and you could spend a lot of time struggling with them…or not.

“Crowd” by James Cridland via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
One lifelong project for me has been putting together a bunch of strategies for dealing with other people.

These strategies were taken from my years of studying the thoughts in a mountain or two of business books and how-to manuals and scientific studies about the human mind as well as in the I Ching and more esoteric studies, and the musings from martial artist practitioners and from crazy wisdom masters.

My professional practice as a residential property manager has been a testing ground for these things and I’ve had many opportunities to try my hand at getting to pono, what Hawaiians call “balanced and righteous actions and behavior.”

I’ve worked hard at learning how to move through the travails of my (basically contentious) trade gracefully and learning how to be a proper go-between so that everyone involved can get where they want to go.

It’s been a fun exploration – often ARGH-making, and sometimes sublime.

“For Rent Sign by Mark Moz via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]


I’ve noticed that, very often, touted hacks for getting your own way tend to be war-like (where you bash other people out of your way, using the force of your persona to bull your way through) or manipulative (where you basically trick someone into doing what you want).

Either way of walking may get you the crown and let you be king (or queen) of the mountain, but then there’s the problem of being there all by yourself because nobody wants to hang with such a bully or trickster.

Some of my friends have gone that route.  They don’t seem very happy with it.

So, it seemed to me that it might be a better thing to become a martial artist of the mind instead – to understand and practice forms that are made up of many smaller moves that evoke certain responses from the other person which you can use to get to where you want to go.

It’s not about using force and strength.  It’s not about making tricky moves.  It’s about using your own mind’s balance, leverage, and focus to affect another person’s way of moving.

How do you get to that?


Over the years I’ve tried and discarded many so-called sure-fire techniques and tactics and distilled the ones that seemed to work every time into seven all-purpose hacks.  These strategies (with appropriate martial artist-type names) are as follows:


“Springtime in Malibu” by Pacheco via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
STILLNESS OF THE MOUNTAIN.  In this one, you become silent and you quietly observe.  You let the other person talk and you listen.

What do you see?  Does the other person’s point of view have validity?  Or is the other person wanting to do the waltz when you were thinking you were going to be doing the tango together?

Just taking the time to be still can bring a lot of things into view that perhaps your concentrated focus on your desired outcome has obscured.

You may be ignoring some big pothole because you have not looked down.  A boulder may be on its way to squishing you because you’re standing there and you haven’t looked up.

Other people may be seeing the things you’re ignoring.   Pay attention.

“The Mirror Houses of Laerdal” by Caruba via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
REFLECTION OF THE LAKEYou can reflect back the other person’s concerns or resistance to your idea using his or her own language.  Tell them back what you think you are hearing and check that what you are hearing is what they are actually saying.

Ask them to clarify their point of view in a very non-aggressive way.  Listen.  Pay attention.

“Willow Silhouette” by mattharvey1 via Flickr [CC By-NC-ND 2.0]
SUPPLENESS OF THE WILLOW.  You can agree with another person’s demand in principle.  Say, “I suppose we could do that.  How would we handle this or that negative consequence, do you think?”

Perhaps the other person has not thought through the consequences of some move they are proposing.  Perhaps they are short-sighted.

Or, maybe, they’ve done their homework and might be able to point out workarounds that you can’t see.  Pay attention.

“Stone Lion, Silk Ribbon” by Can Pac Swire via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
THE STONE WRAPPED IN SILK You can calmly state solid fact (the stone) in as supportive a manner as possible:  “Are you aware that this is true?  What do we do about that?”  Listen.  Pay attention.

“St. Nectan’s Glen Waterfall, Cornwall, UK” by ukgardenphotos via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
MOVING LIKE THE RIVER.  You can acknowledge a proposal you don’t want to accept and then invite the other person to think of another way to solve a problem you can see with it.

“Hmmm.  That’s an interesting idea, but I do not think it is the way I want to go.  Can you think of another way that we might be able to do this, that would meet your needs at least partway and help me meet mine?”

“Sky With Clouds” by elycefeliz via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
DISPERSING THE CLOUDS.  When you see that the other person is caught up in beliefs, assumptions and fears and has boxed himself (or herself) into a corner, you can acknowledge all of the perhaps-legitimate concerns and then ask what he or she might do if the perceived obstacles did NOT exist.

Use their concerns as a springboard for further movement.

“Fire” by Brenna Cade via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
ACCEPTING THE FIRE.  Name the major sticking point for the other person, the one main thing that he or she cannot accept about your proposal.

If that thing is an absolutely important, non-negotiable issue with them and you are not able to deal with it in a way that would be equitable for your own self, then you will have to accept that you and this other person cannot dance together.

Say, “thank you.”  Walk away.


I have found that it’s important to remember that a lot of struggle results from your emotional investment in any one dance.  The thing is this, there are many ways of dancing and many, many other dances.

If you can step back from the emotions involved in working towards a desired outcome  and remember that it’s all just dancing, then it can make the whole thing a lot smoother.

Here’s a poem:


When you focus on the outside,

Bringing all your strength to bear

On some damnable situation or other,

You are stuck in a quagmire.


The more you struggle,

The more effort you expend,

The deeper you sink.


If you can be still,

Let your feet rise up,

And lie down on top of the sticky,

Maybe you can float to where

You can pull yourself out.


Think light.

Let go.

Float and reserve your strength

For when you can do something

To help yourself.

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture credit:  “Be As Mount Fuji…” by Timothy Takemoto via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)


Thank you for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.









  1. Seven interesting steps and well illustrated. If there were more people using these steps there would be less conflict in the world.

    1. Hey Alan:

      Thanks for your visit and your comment. I do agree….

      Please do come again.

  2. Philip Colbert says:

    Hi Tita,

    I loved this article. I read every word of it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I spent many years, due to a lot of tragedy and torment, to ease and release my mind into Peace.

    I recommend anyone who wants to learn how to learn to think in any given situation, this article has it in a way you can understand it and apply it.

    I shared this to Facebook and hope many others read it also.

    I want more just like this please.



    1. Hey Philip:  Thanks for your visit, your comments and for sharing the post.  I do appreciate it! 

      Please do come again….

  3. Beautifully written and with amazing pictures. You certainly have a way with words, and this is a lot more thought provoking than if you just told me I had to listen and pay attention (which you do tell me more than once! :))
    I’ve taken courses on things like conflict resolution, leading through change, and empathetic listening and they all recommend the same things you do, although maybe not in quite the same serene way.
    Great advice and well worth following to live a happier, more connected life!

    1. Hey Jessica:

      Thank you for your visit and for your kind words.  Please do come again!

    1. Hey Timothy:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I know the wise guys tell us that inner silence is the way to peace.

      I, however, am not so far along the Way that their undoubtedly effective methods work for me. Few of us are. For the rest of us, the words will have to do, I am thinking. It’s best to choose good ones.

      Good fortune on your journey, brah. Please do come again.

  4. I enjoyed this post on so many levels. I felt calm and happy just reading it, and taking in the words. The images as well are just lovely and complement your words beautifully. 

    I work with people every day and what I have learnt over the years is that it doesn’t matter how smart people are, it is the way they interact with people and make people feel that determines their long term success. The best people I have worked with are those who listen, genuinely engage, and show empathy. 

    Thanks so much for this post, I will be visiting site again and again.

    1. Melissa, thank you for your visit and for your kind words.  I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again….

  5. Lok Which says:

    Amazing structured article. Seven detailed steps to learn how to navigate any situation of life. I really enjoyed this article every word of it has a point it meets my needs and I’ll keep an eye on your blog for more inspirational poetry from you. Thanks for sharing this life transforming article

    1. Thanks for the visit, Lok Which.  I’m so glad that you enjoyed the article.  

      Please do come again….

  6. Good evening Netta,

    I can see you have walked an interesting path, your life journey certainly is not boring. 

    One should use feeling and try to skip the force while advancing.

    I like your seven hacks.

    Try to be flexible and keep an open mind. We are all different but we come from the same source.

    Regards, Taetske

    1. Thank you for your visit and for your comments, Taetske.  You are right…this Life-thing has sure been a grand trip.

      Please do come again….

  7. This is an excellent sequential strategy for dealing with difficult people. Reminds me of a friend’s book, which he entitled “Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal with Dysfunctional People on the Job.” I like your approach, which doesn’t seem to want to get the better of the other person, but just use the stillness that’s already within you in order to diffuse difficult interpersonal situations. I’ve found that potentially stressful situations are, as you said, best resolved by the steady stillness that ripples out from me and gently affects the world around me. But how to get that stillness, in the first place? For me, it’s in a connection with God, knowing that He loves me. I know that for everyone it’s a little different. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  It is a funny thing how being calm and steady does tend to allow the other person to put down their weapons and work on looking at a way around a problem.  

      I do agree that getting to the stillness is not an easy thing.  We all need to work on it, I think.

      Please do come again….

  8. Scott Hinkle says:

    Thank you for this insightful post.

    I don’t envy the interactions you have to deal with as a property manager.

    To be honest, I was a wall-flower when I was growing up.  Always worried about what other people thought.  It took me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t care about such things.  Within reason that is.  Your loved ones matter to you and thus so should their opinion to a degree, but I think you know what I mean.

    I’m probably on the extreme side of “I don’t care what you think”.  I’m quick to dismiss people that fall into the “I don’t have time to deal with your limited view” category.

    A lot of your hacks deal with diffusing the tenseness and looking from the other person’s perspective and I try to do that but it can be hard at times.

    Again, thank you.  This is a great read and gives me a lot to consider.


    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Scott.  

      I do understand about the I-don’t-care-what-you-think thing.  Been there, done that.  

      The biggest problem for me with it was all of the fall-out that happened because of it.  It could be a lot difficult to find collaborators and cohorts when that was my default stance.  Bad-ass me found out it works better when you’ve got an army behind you…or at least a couple of good friends who can hold the string while you’re tying the bow and stuff like that.  (Hee!)

      Please do come again.  

  9. My comment is mainly based on the topic life built poems. 

    I understand the concept of writing poems that come from your life experience. The only thing that makes me feel a little weird is the religious or belief system behind your main post. I feel as if I am invading on your personal , private thoughts and maybe I should not have access to something this personal.

    I have always been a little hesitant about writing things that are too personal or too religious. 

    I am not judging your culture, it just seems more like a teaching moment than anything else. 

    It might just be me, but I am usually outside of the norm with my feelings. 

    Maybe if you wanted to teach the reader about your culture and heritage and explain to them what different phrases meant in a tutorial type of platform would have been a little better.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your feelings about my site, wadj53.  I do appreciate it.

      I think I can understand how your perhaps more finely-tuned sense of privacy might make you uncomfortable with the direction of my site.  

      However, there is method to my madness.  My “mission statement” says it, I think:  “Minding Meaning and Mana.”  (Mana pertains to personal empowerment.)  

      In this site, I am exploring what gives meaning and increases a person’s personal power in their lives and the best way I can do that is by telling stories about my own experiences and feelings.  I’m not sure that lecturing somebody to do this or do that will actually work with this topic.

      You might want to check out the “About” section of the site which explains my mindset and system of thinking that I call the Ho’o-Cycle.  It will give you an idea, I think, of my way of walking.  

      The thing isn’t about religion or even about my own culture, particularly.  It’s more about exploring different mindsets and seeing where they take you.

      I do hope you’ll come again.

  10. I loved this article and the pictures you used here were stunning, especially the one of the mirror like lake. 

    Reading this type of work gives you a wonderful feeling of inner peace and tranquility. It’s a pity more people don’t heed this calm advice in this rushed world that we live in. 

    I love the analogy that there are many ways to do a dance and it doesn’t have to just be done one way or your way. 

    1. Michel, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I am pleased that you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again.

  11. Carol5162 says:

    I really love this post. We are bombarded with life’s struggles that we are willing to focus only on our selfish desires than that of others. 

    I know very well that there is no joy in making it life, while you are alone and lonely in what you thought would be your happy place. There is much joy in getting here without trampling on others. 

    Thank you for the idea of practicing martial arts of the mind. I love the ‘stillness of the mountain’ concept. We are too quick to speak without listening to get to know what the real issue is. 

    These are really great hacks. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Carol, I do thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I agree:  it sure is a heck of a lot more fun making a run for the summit with a bunch of friends.  

      I’m glad the post was helpful to you.  

      Please do come again.

  12. Hi Netta,

    Right now I am reading a book about how to win friends and influence people. I have always tried to positively influence other people, especially those closest to me. 

    I think we are unique beings there is no other equal and what works for some does not work for others. My father said life is not easy. I would add if we press the wrong button it can do us a lot of damage, maybe irreparable. 

    Thank you!

    1. Hey, Claudio:

      Are you reading Dale Carnegie’s book?  I love that classic.  

      I agree that “pressing the wrong button” can do a lot of damage.  The deal, I think, is to forget about button-pushing and just treat people like people — accepting who and what they are showing us as their own truth and trying to give them a true picture of who we are our own selves.

      If we can see each other, maybe we can talk and maybe we can play together.  That would surely be a good thing.

      Please do come again….

  13. Lucas Moore says:

    What an awesome and truly unique content I am seeing on this site.

    Learning how to effectively deal with people and manage their diversity is one skill we have been trying to have for centuries now. Even with the several articles and content on this same topic it’s still an issue. But the clarity through your article makes it simple and easy to implement.

    1. Lucas, thanks for your visit.  I’m glad you found the post helpful.

      Please do come again.

  14. Understanding how our emotions play a big part in our perception is key. We need to make sure that our emotions are not getting in the way when we’re trying to understand other people. 

    So, once we have got that out of the way, we still need to study other people. And it’s a hard task. But I have found that doing it systematically is very helpful.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Abel.  I do agree that sometimes we need to put aside our own very strong emotions in order to actually see and hear the other people in our lives — especially the ones that get in our face.  

      I think the thing that helps me most with the people who really scrape on my one last nerve is remembering that the traits they are exhibiting that are getting me riled are usually the ones I am most strongly denying in my own self.  

      It’s a funny thing.  These days I actually do welcome the encounters with people who grate at me.  They help me pinpoint my own fault-lines and foibles and see where I need to reconsider stances that are no longer working for me and look for better alternatives.  

      It’s all good….

      Please do come again.

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