Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath: The Effectiveness of Soft Power

This post is a part of my Reflections* series. However, I think there is a lot to learn from it, so I'd love to share it here too.  

This week learned a valuable lesson about the effectiveness of soft power.  If you don't know what soft power is, it's about using persuasion and attraction, rather than force, to get what you want. In foreign affairs, you may find that governments prefer to use negotiation and diplomacy to settle conflicts rather than sanctions and policies. (Well at least they are supposed to!)

Some time back I had a dispute with a friend over WhatsApp which left me upset, angry and feeling entitled to an apology.
What made my frustration boil over was living in the knowledge that I'd probably never get that apology. (Shout out to the "never apologise for anything" crew!)

Anyway, whilst a part of me wanted to pick up the phone and leave my friend with no illusions about the way I really felt, I also badly wanted to give him a heavy dose of the silent treatment.

Hmmm...what to do?

In the back of my mind, I would rather have had my apology so we could move on. But oh! That wishful thinking! So in the week that followed, I sat restlessly in my funk whilst I mulled over whether to follow the road to pride or maturity. Both routes, of course, had a destination it would lead our friendship to, so I had to choose wisely. 

A week later, I met up with a group of friends, which included this individual. Upon seeing him, I felt a tidal wave of anger, upset, frustration and all the other emotions that plagued me the week before. But through it all, my response was a smile, and a simple "hello". 

Halfway through the day, I pulled him to the side, and after asking the usual "how are you?", I continued, "I would like to speak to you. There is something that has been on my mind. I have been upset for a while-"

Before I could conclude my speech, I heard, "I know I pissed you off. I really would like to apologise. I'm so, so sorry". As simple as that. Case finished.

These are the elements that came into play, to gain me the results I thought I would never achieve.

1. Biding my time, and not yapping off in the heat of the moment
2. Choosing to resolve things privately rather than making a spectacle in front of the crowd
3. My soft tone (and body language)

*Reflections are weekly musings, that I post every Tuesday on my Facebook Page. They reflect on the way we interact with each other in daily life, are generally shorter, and easier to read.



  1. Great post here. Yes if only we all acknowledge and admit our faults without feeling superior than others. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi Gloria. Thank you for passing through! I am glad you enjoyed reading this.

  2. Great tips! I sometimes struggle in admitting my mistakes but I'm working on it :)

    Angelie // Chocolate Hills - Bohol, Philippines

  3. This was a brilliant lesson as to how sometimes the best reaction is the calmest one! I'm glad the issue was resolved :)

  4. Sometimes, things can be this simple! No need to complicate matters. Kudos to you for maintaining a calm demeanor and to your friend as well. It could have gone a different way

    1. Hi Amarachi, it really is as simple as that sometimes! Many thanks for passing through!

  5. Yeah sometimes calmness does it. I like how you handled the situation and of course him for saying sorry. -Which is hard for people to do lately. Great post, sis!

    1. Hi Missy! Yay you made it! it's true. Saying sorry was also a very big thing to do.

  6. I don’t know what has happened to the custom of delivering consistent good articles. I hope that the custom comes alive after this..thumbs up for your work

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