Verbal Judo - The Gentle Art Of Persuasion
By George J. Thompson and Jerry B. Jenkins

February 21, 2022

Verbal Judo - The Gentle Art Of Persuasion

Continuing in our mindfulness theme, which we kicked-off last episode in Kansas City, we are now discussing my top 5 takeaways from the book, 'Verbal Judo'. It turns out that our mindset, attitude, body language, and even our verbal communications are critical soft skills to be in good command of while executing your plan to achieve your big, scary dreams. In this episode, we focus a bit on critical verbal communication skills.

Emotions aren’t noise. They’re data.Dr. Sigal Barsade

My Top 5 Takeaways From The Book ‘Verbal Judo’

First, Why Judo?

Judo means the ‘gentle way’. The Judo martial art is all about using your opponents energy, force and momentum against them. If your verbal communication skills can behave accordingly, you are able to subdue your argumentative opponent much easier.

My favorite Judo moves used to be ‘hiza garuma’ and ‘hane goshi’. There is something very fulfilling about hip tossing an opponent flat on their back. I’m not sure I could metaphorically achieve the same effect in a verbal confrontation prior to reading this book, but at least now I am aware of some of the necessary techniques.

Second, There Are (At Least) Eleven Things You Should Never Say To People

  1. Come Here!
  2. You Wouldn’t Understand
  3. Because those are the rules!
  4. It’s none of your business!
  5. What do you want me to do about it?
  6. Calm down!
  7. What’s your problem?
  8. ‘You never’…or, ‘You always’
  9. I’m not going to say this again!
  10. I’m doing this for your own good
  11. Why don’t you be reasonable

When read in the context of marriage, these made me chuckle.

Also, I can think of many more things never to say to anyone, but this is a good list nonetheless.

Third, Words Hurt More Than Steel

The age-old childhood saying, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!’, is simply not true. It’s very important to consider your words before you speak them, especially if you are engaged in a touchy conversation.

Words cut deeper and their wounds fester longer than traumas of the sword. That’s why we need to be trained to speak effectively.‘Verbal Judo’, pg. 50

The good news, as Dr. Caple points out, is that advil may help after a verbal lashing - for real.

Fourth, Mushin Is Samurai-Speak For Disinterested

Having ‘mushin’ in your mental arsenal may help you deal more effectively with emotionally challenging conversations and help prevent you from going on the offensive and saying things you might wish you could later take back. Mushin allows you to stay calm in the center of a storm by separating one’s self from brain and thoughts.

Use the ‘force’, Luke.

Fifth, How You Communicate Trumps What You Communicate

(Did my use of the word ‘trump’ in this title trigger you? Dude, calm down!)

The elements of your voice include: tone, pace, pitch and modulation. All of these verbal components dictate how well what you are saying is received.

For example, angrily yelling ‘Ich Liebe Dich!’ at someone is probably not going to be received as intended by the German (or any other) recipient.

A mediocre idea brilliantly presented often gains acceptance, whereas a brilliant idea badly presented often dies in birth.‘Verbal Judo’, pg. 119

Keep this is mind at your next sales pitch.


Thank you to the February 19th, 2022, edition of the Wall Street Journal for including the obituary of Dr. Sigal Barsade, written by James R. Hagerty. In her elloquently written obituary, I read about a Wharton Professor who sought to bring positivity to all who surrounded her recognizing that positive energy is a virus worth spreading.

Thank you, Dr. Barsade.

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podcast learning entrepreneurship mindfulness success Jon Kabat-Zinn verbal judo judo mushin otaku kaizen Sigal Barsade rhetoric hiza guruma hane goshi

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