By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you face an adversarial audience. Reading time: 2:46
It’s scary. You step up to the podium and all you hear are boos. All you see are sneers. And all you feel is tension.
You wonder if you just stepped on a guillotine. After all, this audience can’t stand to look at you much less listen to you.
That’s when the most effective leaders demonstrate how to disagree agreeably.
Mark Antony, literature’s conflict management poster boy, provides a template for taming a hostile audience in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
The backstory: Antony is mourning the death of his friend Julius Caesar. But the public is celebrating the death of what they perceived was an overly ambitions ruler. Antony addresses the public at the burial of Julius Caesar. In Act III Scene 2, Antony sizes up the crowd and finds a way to side with them right from the start:
‘Friends, Romans, countrymen,
lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar,
not to praise him. The evil that men do
lives after them. The good is oft interred
with their bones. So let it be with Caesar.’’
Antony skillfully disagrees so agreeably that he finds common ground. He’s one of them. Continue reading