Verbal Judo

Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How many times throughout our lives are we trained on matters that are deemed essential to our daily living? We have courses on first aid, lifting, how to use Microsoft Excel – but what of the skill that everyone could make the best use of? The art of speaking effectively enough to deter and defuse potentially explosive and volatile situations.

Thankfully, this book aims to fill one of these gaps. First by educating us on the fact that we are missing this knowledge, then by teaching us how to implement it.

The Author is a Police Officer who has had many years on the streets, enough to believe in his credibility when he tells you what works and what doesn’t. I found his points on the mental calm and stillness experienced and achieved by the ancient Samurais intriguing. We should all be aiming to experience this stillness in the very moments that we may feel compelled to react negatively to a hostile situation.

The book is full of practical techniques, and requires note taking on behalf of the reader in order to memorise and effectively use these techniques. Thankfully, the methods listed in this book are often explained using acronyms. The chapters are short and this makes them feel succinct and to the point.

I also understand the main point of this book, and the main principle which underlies all the teachings therein. Empathy absorbs tension. We don’t necessarily have to agree with our verbal opponent, but we can strip their phrases of their sting and empathise with their understanding and use that as a foundation to come to a swift resolution. Other tidbits such as the use of SPECIFIC praise in the place of general praise (which may sound insincere) were genuinely helpful and even a basic understanding of these principles will be enough to change your dealings with people.

A much needed book, I recommend reading this while taking your own notes, any other way will not do it enough justice.

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