What happens when someone pushes you? How does your body and mind respond?
You body gets tense. You try to resist. You become defensive. And sometimes, you react by pushing back.
Resistance is common when being pushed. I submit it is actually a form of engagement. If someone only experiences being pushed, they soon feel like pushing back. Or they hold all of their emotions inside until they explode. Or they shut down to protect themselves. They may even respond by challenging the entire process.
Pulling Creates Attention And Can Lead To Participation
What happens when someone pulls you? How does your body and mind respond?
Your body may also resist a pull. It feels different than a push. Typically, a pull creates another type of reaction and attention is heightened.
Those who practice the martial arts of Aikido are taught to use the energy of a pull attack to their benefit. They move further in the same direction as the pull and can even flip the attacker with their own energy.
Ying Or Push
In the world of associations, conferences and education, a push is anything that forces itself into a situation. It interrupts the natural flow of things. It adds form, rules, unrequested guidance, information indigestion, overload or structure. Sometimes that push asks for a decision.
This causes resistance. People feel pushed by rules, dense content, information dumps and over-structured situations.
Think about the last time you heard someone pitch a proposal. If the pitch was complicated, too salesy or had impact on your actions, you may have resisted. You may have become defensive.
This resistance occurs in conferences when we have to sit passively and listen to presentation after presentation without being invited to actively participate. Death by PowerPoint is one example of this. A constant barrage of promotional emails about association or conference offerings, products and services is another example. A conference or show website that pushes information and does not allow the user to pull specific content from search or in an itinerary planner is yet another example of push. Readers respond to these examples with defensive reactions.
Yang Or Pull
A pull in the context of meetings or education is something that supports people moving in the direction they are naturally going. It makes them want to participate.
People feel pulled by open-ended questions, simple graphic eye-candy, silence, adult white space (breaks and opportunities to process information), invitations to co-create, storytelling and story sharing, audience interaction and surprisingly, break-downs in agendas.
Associations, conference organizers and presenters can use pull methods to get high engagement and participation. When delivering content in a presentation, if the audience is asking a lot of questions in a different direction from the content, follow them. Allow their pull to be a guide.
Think about these questions as ways to engage others with pull:
- In the future, our association will look like…
- Our annual conference is like a… (ask users to think of metaphors)
- The problem I need solved most is…
- What’s the best education experience you’ve ever had?
What are some other ways you can create the pull effect with associations, conferences or education? What pull methods have you seen that are successful?