The Future of Secondary Education | Clarissa’s Blog
One of the reasons why subtlety “works” as part of the masterly disposition is that it simply requires less energy. Another reason is that one is much more likely to keep one’s position in a state of power if one’s actions are smooth and virtually undetectable. Another is that, because this mode of behavior has developed over the evolution of history, similar types recognise others by their mannerisms.
Not being subtle is the prerogative of the powerless — and it is a real prerogative. I, myself, have learned to use it, during times when I had so little power that my life had become abominable.
At the same time, it is the height of masterfulness to be able to use subtelty EVEN WHEN one has very little power. I call that almost shamanic subtelty. To exercise subtlelty from a position of disempowerment requires a lot more knowledge and experience than to exercise it from a position of real material advantage.
When I spoke on this blog recently about how a sense of knowing about psychological balance can work to your advantage, I was speaking about exactly this — using subtelty from a point of relative powerlessness. But this can still be masterful and in some respects it is the trump card. (It’s not the winning card in all respects, but in some ways it is, especially because it is unexpected.)
It works best when someone is playing a crude hand against you. They are actively showing their disrespect by playing with you crudely. That gives a clear signal that they do not expect masterfulness. In that case, the key is to keep a clear head. You don’t want to hurt them (that would be crude), but you want to remain masterful.
The problem with those who are not masterful is that they play out their hand. They are so convinced of winning that they underestimate what they have put at stake.
To speak a little esoterically — which is to say, in a masterful manner — you have to play your own hand in such a way as to reveal to yourself (if not to them) what they have put at stake. It is basic judo. You defeat them with their own arrogance.