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Force of Will


Picture this: Sunday night at the Oscars, and Chris Rock is in full flow:

GI Jane ‘joke’ lands (aimed at Jada Pinkett Smith - Will Smith's wife)

Chris Rock is getting feedback and reinforcing the joke as he feels ‘support’ from others, laughing (albeit nervously?)


00:00:01 “Uh oh”, Chris Rock says as he sees Will Smith walking towards him…

00:00:02 Will Smith moves with purpose towards Chris Rock…

00:00:06 WHACK! Will Smith slaps Chris Rock across the face (hard, no acting here!) on live TV in front of millions… damage done.

00:00:12 “Wow, Will Smith just smacked the shit outta me”, says a somewhat startled and rattled Chris Rock (to be fair he held it together well).

00:00:14 Will Smith angrily shouts from his seat “Keep my wife’s name out of your @&£?ing mouth”.

00:00:17 Chris Rock tries to tell everyone (mostly Will) it was just a joke.


Will Smith's behaviour was as a result of a chemical reaction - what we call an amygdala hijack where we process almost instantaneously a fight or flight reaction. Reptilian behaviour over which we have little control UNLESS we can wait 6 seconds and think objectively about the situation


This happens in commercial negotiation. A crass piece of behaviour stimulates a reaction (usually less aggressive and typically verbal). The damage is done, it sets in motion usually an irreversible chain of events. Integrity is questioned and the deal is lost.


Opinion is split on whether Will won hearts and minds (although the majority agree that violence is not the answer), and Chris ended up with a bruised face (and possibly ego)!


Faced with negative stimuli, ask yourself: What is the real problem here? Can I (should I) solve it? If so, should I solve it now (and how) or later?


Maybe it doesn’t make great telly but when you are in an intense and sometimes fast-moving situation, taking a time out might be the best thing to do - see this video on the subject and come and talk to Savage Macbeth!


This excitement has ensured that the media surrounding the 94th Academy Awards has sky-rocketed (albeit just for a tiny piece of the evening). I suppose there can be some winners from events like this even if it’s neither of the two main players.


Richard Savage, 28th March 2022



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