When you least expect it, you can find yourself under siege and with the opportunity to practice becoming a Ninja Partner.

On a recent Sunday afternoon in the adorable town of Vevey, Switzerland where I live, I was waiting in line with 30 or more people to buy tickets to attend a dance performance. I was standing outside the theatre in an open space on a sidewalk, in a car free zone. Out of nowhere I heard a man’s voice saying, in a rather sarcastic tone, “Madam, you’re blocking the sidewalk. Why are you blocking the sidewalk?”.

This was in French coming from a stranger so it took me a moment to calculate that it was directed at me, another moment to translate it back into English from French, and a third moment to realise that the person speaking to me had likely been imbibing an alcoholic beverage of some description.

After I had made all these calculations I turned towards him, gave him eye contact and a soft smile. Considering the fact that I was barely blocking his way and he had to move less than a half meter to manoeuvre around me, I assumed he would stop there. In fact he was only just getting started!

He said a few more things, which I wasn’t able to comprehend because my brain was now shutting down from the perceived attack.

I maintained eye contact and a soft smile. After a couple of seconds the next thing I remember him saying was “What, do you think I can fly?! Do you want to see me fly?!”. It was at that point my ego kicked in and I was feeling the full effect of the unjust aggression. I raised my chin with the intention to respond very sarcastically “Yeah I’d like to see you fly!”.

The good news is my Partner training kicked in, I resisted the temptation, I kept my chin in the air to show a sense of interest and curiosity and when he was finally done I slowly nodded and gave him a sincere “merci” as he walked away.

If I had been 100% gracious I would have stepped off the sidewalk after he passed because technically it wasn’t costing me anything to move. Yet of course my ego was in reaction mode, so you can sure as heck believe that I stayed on that sidewalk until I was good and ready to step off it, just in case he was still looking! Although this behavior can be described as passive-aggressive, sometimes 80% Partner is good enough!

When I recounted this story to a friend of mine, she asked why I didn’t give this guy a piece of my mind. I had three reasons for this.

First, because he was a stranger and appeared to have been drinking, I couldn’t safely predict how he would respond to a challenge from me.

Second, he lobbed his snarky comments while walking past me – he didn’t stop to engage me.

Third, I wanted to benefit from the ninja training to manage my ego even when being unfairly aggressed out of the blue.

If you have any recent ninja training successes, write in and tell us about them!

Happy Partnering!