Quotes and Notes: Verbal Judo, The Gentle Art of Persuasion
This is the communication warrior’s real service: staying calm in the midst of conflict, deflecting verbal abuse, and offering empathy in the face of antagonism.
Here are my notes and excerpts from Verbal Judo, The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George Thompson Ph.D., an English Professor, martial arts black belt, and police officer.
Be mindful of what you say and how you say it
- “Never use words that rise readily to your lips, or you’ll make the greatest speech you’ll ever live to regret.”
- The responsibility for the understanding belongs to the speaker, not the listener. Your job is to get through.
Understand your audience
- Often the best way of reading your target audience is to see the person the way they see themselves. This is the true essence of empathy.
- Never react to what people say. React to what they mean. Just remember: People hardly ever say what they mean.
- When two people are talking, six different identities are involved—each person’s real self, each person as they see themselves, and finally, each person as seen by the other, doubled.
- When I want voluntary compliance from a difficult person, I explain early on what’s in it for them. As clearly and specifically as I can, I show them what they have to gain. Only when that doesn’t work will I tell them what they stand to lose.
Responding to slights and insults
- The secret is simple: It’s okay if someone insults, resists, or attacks you. Laugh it off. Show that it has no meaning, no sting. If you fight back and resist the affront, you give it life and credibility. If you defend yourself, you invite counterattack.
- Use “strip phrases” to deflect insults.
- This is the communication warrior’s real service: staying calm in the midst of conflict, deflecting verbal abuse, and offering empathy in the face of antagonism.
- People don’t go around thinking they’re irrational, especially when they truly are.
- Empathy absorbs tension
- Common sense under pressure is a highly uncommon commodity.
Identify and understand your weaknesses
- When we define our weaknesses or our so-called communication enemies, we actually bring them out and make them part of our consciousness. We admit them, bringing them into the light of recognition.
- Make a list of your most harmful weaknesses. Then name them. Give each a little tag and pin it wriggling to the wall of definition. Then you own them. Once you’re in control inside, you can be in control outside.