Two things you probably wouldn't put together are public relations and the Brazilian martial art of capoeira.
Though, as a practitioner of both, I often find myself incorporating things that I learn in capoeira training into my work life. Who would have thought that centuries-old martial art form that combines music, acrobatics, and dance would be so influential in how I do my account work or interact with my team, clients, or reporters? But here’s how it works:
Rhythm and flow:
In capoeira, while you move rhythmically to the music, you must at the same time adapt to the movements of your partner/opponent. At work, this can give you the momentum to push through and not freeze up while you are doing something such as giving a presentation. It also makes you more aware if someone, like a reporter, isn’t following what you are saying, so you can adjust what or how you are saying it and regain his or her focus.
When you’re playing capoeira, you’re always looking for your opponent’s vulnerability so you can exploit it. In PR, you must keep your eyes open for opportunities, such as news trends that your client can comment on in the media.
Your capoeira opponent is always looking to take the upper hand, so you must anticipate his or her next move, then think an extra step ahead. At work, this can help you change direction quickly and find a new approach if a plan, pitch, or press release isn't working.
Development of strengths:
Some people who play capoeira are acrobatic and can do moves like aerials (or as we call them, au sem mao), but others may be great musicians. Think of your team and your clients that way, too. One person on your account team may be a great writer, but another is better at media relations. In a pinch you should use each one to the best of their abilities, but you should also encourage everyone to share their talents and knowledge across the team.
You can practice a movement repeatedly, but if you have an injury, such as a bad knee, you’ll have to modify what you are doing. Same goes in PR. For example, a company may have a visionary leader, but that person may not be a good spokesperson. If spokesperson training doesn’t improve your CEO’s skills, you may have to use a different executive for interviews.
Commitment to challenges:
If you are about to go in and hook your foot around someone’s ankle to take him or her down in capoeira, then do it. Going in halfway will be ineffective and will put you in a vulnerable position. Same goes for making a presentation or pitch. If you waffle, your lack of confidence will show through, and others won’t believe that you know what you are doing, even if you do.
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Make everyone look their best. When you play capoeira, it's not about beating the other person. The best games make everyone look good. To be a good public relations professional, you don't just make yourself look good, but your company, the client, and the reporter.
Michelle Sieling is a senior consultant at BondPR.