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Verbal Aikido: Bulletproof Communication
Tongue Fu © Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching for Better Communication

We offer training on verbal aikido, accelerated learning, expert modeling and non-verbal communication. We teach our Verbal Aikido internationally.

Verbal Self Defense

Perhaps you react to difficult people or verbal abuse like a warrior, when you feel strong enough to stand and fight. Or maybe you immediately become passive, like a beaten dog. Your reactions may depend on your perception of the power difference between the abuser and you. Fight or flight.

Verbal self-defense is about your attitude and your relationship skills. If you can stay emotionally mature and remember that many attacks are pleas for help, you to tolerate or even enjoy responding to difficult people, with compassion and without sympathy, in ways that fit your sense of life.

Downsizing . Difficult Employees . Hiring, Firing & Inspiring

Prepare Yourself

Sooner or later, probably sooner, you will experience some of the following:

  • Direct attacks
  • Deception and bluff
  • Confusing communication
  • Verbal and nonverbal objections
  • Victim games: blame, excuses, justifications & complaints

Whether or not a person is being deliberately difficult is not as important as how you deal with it. When it happens, you won't have enough time to find this page. Instead, we can coach you develop mental and emotional reflexes to have the resources that you need - before you need them.

Emotional Blackmail . Client Abuse . Abusive Relationships

Listen Carefully

If you hear something that you dislike; you may assume that the communication is false, or not worth listening to, and stop listening. If the communication might be important, listen carefully anyway, until you understand what's being communicated, and why. This is especially true when children talk.


Your confusion may be honest and spontaneous - and your confusion may be the goal of a subtle attack (this is common in interviews and interrogation). Confused people may respond childishly. Explore what exactly is being asked and try to recognize if the communication was deliberately confusing.

Examples of confusing communication include:

  • Someone says "Yes" and signals "No"; or vice versa
  • Someone says "Yes, but ..." to your ideas or suggestions
  • Someone gives you false, inadequate or too much information

Confusing communication may especially occur if:

  • Someone has a hidden agenda
  • Someone blames you for being difficult
  • Someone imagines that you are someone else

Our Verbal Aikido workshops and systemic coach training offer you many ways to clarify confusion. We can help you stay resourceful in chaotic situations.


Some people will directly lie to you about important issues. Your child didn't eat the chocolate. Your partner wasn't at a party last night. This car only had one owner. The house is not in a flood zone. Your government will tax other people for your benefit ...

  • Someone deliberately misleads you
  • Someone withholds important information
  • Someone pretends to know more than they know

One possibility is to tell your simple truth and ask for clarity:

  • "Based on what you have told me ... "
  • "If that is true ... what else are you implying?"
  • "How can I check that you are telling the truth?"

You have many other choices that we cover in our training.


This may be important whenever you want a decision. You ask your partner to go with you to the opera, and your partner says "No", or perhaps worse, says "Yes, dear" while coughing and rolling the eyes.

  • Someone verbally objects to your statement or idea
  • Someone non-verbally objects to your statement or idea

Our coach training provides the skills for coaches, counselors and therapists to assist difficult clients by dissolving objections within ordinary conversations.

Victim Games

In older times, a leper had to carry a bell to warn others of his or her approach. Although leprosy is now controlled by medication, another disease has its warning bells. Immature people who wish to avoid responsibility use four time-tested bells: Blame, Excuses, Justifications and Complaints.

Many people who play these destructive victim games are entangled or codependent with their parents, partners or children. One way to find truth is to ask for details: "You say that you are late because you had a puncture? Which wheel was it? Did you change it yourself or did you go to a garage? Which garage?"

Emotional Incest . End Codependence . Affairs

Direct Verbal Attack

  • Someone criticizes you overtly or covertly
  • Someone attacks your behavior, beliefs or values
  • Someone undermines your identity or sense of self

Assume that criticism is a poorly stated wish for your benefit, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Make space for your attackers to defend you! Assume that criticism supports hidden agendas. (In our talks and classes, many would-be critics end up telling other people how effective we are).

Assume that an attacker gets some benefit out of attacking you and, if it seems worthwhile to you, uncover those benefits. These useful or even essential skills for team leaders, human resources professionals and managers. These skills are part of our systemic coach training.

Chronic Verbal Attackers

If you pause and notice what's going on, you can better use your resources. You may not like the attacker nor enjoy the attack, but you may find much better choices than fighting or running.

  • They may be entangled with other people
  • They may know no other way to communicate
  • They may abuse or criticize themselves MUCH worse than you

Difficult people are often living out their parents' conflicts. Knowing this, you can sculpt your communication style.

Parry the Attack

You always have choice. Some sad choices include:

  • Retaliate - "How DARE you say that to me!"
  • Ignore - "I will pretend that you didn't say that"
  • Plead - "You KNOW I don't have time to discuss that now!"
  • Retreat - "You are right - I am an idiot - have mercy on me!"

These reward attackers with your resourceless reactions, and may encourage attackers to abuse you again. Other choices can show your attacker that you are mature, adult and resourceful. You can motivate them to communicate resourcefully, or to take their foolishness elsewhere.

Our verbal aikido offers a vast array of skills for difficult situations - if you are not obsessed to teach strangers your version of politeness. Our training offers you many ways to stay resourceful while responding to important difficult people in ways that fit with your goals and the relationship type.

Note: using verbal aikido in intimate relationships can damage intimacy.

Interrogation & Hostile Interviews

This refers to heavy verbal attacks, including hostile interviews, attempts to punish you or cult-like behavior. Your defense against Abusive Relationships may include silence, getting professional legal representation or Exit Coaching.

Contact us to change your habitual reactions to verbal attacks

Online Coaching, Counseling & Soulwork Training

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © 2004-2018
by Martyn Carruthers. All rights reserved.

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
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For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


Soulwork systemic coaching in England, Wales & Scotland

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email