I was in a car with a real estate agent and she was silent. I noticed that I was filling that silence with particulars of my real estate and financial situation that she really did not need to know. Finally, I shut up after revealing far too much. Staying back, keeping one’s peace, is a very powerful position. It is quite the opposite of leaning in. Leaning in has an element of confrontation. “Front” in French means forehead. To confront is to lead with the forehead, to lean in. It seldom works to one’s advantage. A banker well known to me always received a instantaneous “no” from his CEO. He always argued. He alway confronted. He always won and led his bank, in his words, to disastrous decisions. There was not that element of give and take that makes for good decisions. Confrontation may win the battle but lose the war.
One of the greatest negotiators on Wall Street would never utter the first words in a negotiation. He stayed back, kept his counsel and learned more about the person sitting opposite him than he might in an hour of interrogation. Stay back. Your body has an interior, terra incognita, you might call it, unknown lands. Nourish that territory in your thinking. Fill it out. Breathe. Bring your attention to your body’s constituents and to the whole. Occupy your self. Keep your own counsel. You may find the person opposite drawn to you, suddenly on your side. It might be the start of a something big, a conversation, a “con”, with, and a “versa” against, a linguistic volley in which everybody has a chance to win. Lean in? I don’t think so.