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Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion
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Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,562 ratings  ·  373 reviews
Improve communication, resolve conflicts, and avoid the most common conversational disasters through simple, easily remembered strategies that deflect and redirect negative behaviour.

Verbal Judo is the martial art of the mind and mouth that can show you how to be better prepared in every verbal encounter. Listen and speak more effectively, engage people through empathy (th
Paperback, Revised edition, 222 pages
Published 2004 by Harper (first published May 1st 1993)
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Eduardo Santiago
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
[November 2018 update: I just noticed there's a Second Edition. Please note that my review is for the First; I have not read the Second, so please do not be discouraged from reading that because of my review.]

This is material I need to recommend; I just can't recommend this book. At least not to my friends, not to the people I hang out with or care about. Read Nonviolent Communication instead. Please.

Verbal Judo is... disturbing. It's about communication, but the undertone is about lying and pre
Dec 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
After reading some reviews I really wanted to love this book. In fact, I immediatly marched out and purchased it as soon as I heard of it. As a professional working in the behavioral health field I was excited to get a text that utilized a practical rather than soley theoretical viewpoint. I found neither a practical "street smart" or empirically based material in this book. Perhaps 10 out of over 200 pages actually covers any real skills or techniques. The rest is bravado, some honest self refl ...more
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up at work one night while rotating through what seemed like endless constant observation of patients, one after the other, through the night. In my job working with psychiatric patients, words are important and can mean the difference between calming a volatile situation or blowing it up into something violent, unpredictable and dangerous. So I was intrigued by a number of articles I read in Psychiatric Times that all pointed to this book and the concepts it teaches in order ...more
Leslie Lewis
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
I guess I was expecting more. The whole book felt like a big promotion to take the guy's seminar. By page sixty, the author was still going on and on about how helpful the book was going to be without having given any helpful information. The actual helpful bits are scattered around and have to be gleaned while plowing through a lot of bragging and peacocking behavior. A lot of what the guy tells you is common sense. Maybe if you are a very angry male who has no idea why his wife wants to divorc ...more
Sep 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who needs to get a point across
Recommended to Jay by: UCLA
Dr. Thompson has worked as an English teacher, a police officer and a consultant. Communication is a major key in his life. As a cop he had to figure out how to get people to comply with lawful directions without resorting to physically making them follow instructions. For example, "I stopped you for speeding sir. Please give me your driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance."


Now what?

This book discusses things not to say, dead end arguments, talking yourself into a cor
Doug Haynes
Aug 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
I read this because it was recommended by a friend because it had some good points.

It does, however the good points could have been summed up in about 7 pages.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm currently working temporarily as a Military Policeman for the Marine Corps, and this thing called "verbal judo" is frequently mentioned, so I thought I would check out this book. Personally I have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, a few classes in psychology, and I've read books about communication... so I started the book with some formal education on interpersonal communication. So did it offer anything insightful or unique? Let's see...

Well, the first warning sign was the whole "g
Liz Minski
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: office-book-club
Okay - the practices are sound. The delivery leaves much to be desired.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2010
Kind of a repetitive book, but definitely helpful in laying out strategies for dealing with difficult people -- I wish I'd read it earlier; it's already been useful in dealing with difficult library patrons.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The late George J. Thompson (died 2011) trained in judo and aikido before becoming a police officer in his early 30s. In that career he noticed that some of the police he worked with seemed to have a natural talent for defusing conflicts and calming people under stress. It was something that didn't come naturally to him, so he began to analyze what those good communicators were doing and started seeing a similarity to between their verbal styles and Judo ("the gentle way") and Aikido ("unifying ...more
Miroku Nemeth
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another recommendation from a fellow scholar of violence and, more importantly, avoiding violence.
Jack Hansen
A great book that teaches how to persuade others to comply with a desirable behavior that diffuses crises. Thinking before one speaks and using restraint to control emotional reactions is also essential. The author, George J. Thompson, uses his personal experiences working in law enforcement to perfect his rationale to be a successful interventionist. The book is full of scenarios which, he admits, he cannot always recall, at the spur of the moment, the proper techniques necessary to handle ever ...more
Brandon Barnes
Well, this was an experience.

I grabbed this book off the Audible sale a few days ago. Right off the bat, I want to say that there were some excellent suggestions and tips. I'm glad I read this book.


This dude is basically an 80s movie cop that frequently quotes the Samurai 'masters' while being an expert in communications in the fields of law enforcement, teaching, parenting, sales, and a host of other things. Also, he saved several people life with his words. Seriously. You can look it
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has a lot of examples and techniques for having conversations in extremely confrontational situations, like with criminals/culprits, angry customers, and difficult coworkers. Since the author is drawing from his work experience in the police force, the emphasis is on defusing a situation. This may not apply to most people in their daily interactions with people.

There are some good suggestions on statements not to say (you wouldn't understand, because those are the rules, it's none of y
Veselin Nikolov
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
No matter how many books I read on the subject they never cease to amaze me. People are complicated, you and I are complicated too. Our instincts are primitive and we should not resort to them when crafting our responses.

The book is short but dense. Took me awhile, I had to take breaks after each chapter.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. There is nothing new; it is full of common sense, but it is written in a way that made me continuously reflect on my common responses as a middle school teacher, a family member, a human. It helped me make new goals, gave me concrete skills to implement, and will definitely be reread enough times that responses become natural, professional, and empathetic.
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Especially in our world today I truly believe that everyone should read this book. The principals he teaches would positively change our world. So many are disrespectful and let their egos get in the way and the principals he teaches will have us all living and working together respectfully. Even as I had not finished completely I started to implement some into my interactions and could see a difference in how others reacted to my changing me and my communication.
TEELOCK Mithilesh
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: security
This is the best book for ending confrontations through the use of talking. The techniques can be used to diffuse hostage situations, let alone prevent a violent occurrence. Social connections can be created to avert potential disasters. Invoking a sense of mutuality will temporarily disable a hostile party, which generates time for a surefire response.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book on thinking before you speak!
Virgilio Machado
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting self-help/personal growth book. Difficult to put into practice without some persistence and re-reading. A few good quotes.

Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson and Jerry B. Jenkins is an outstanding little book that everyone should read. Why do I say everyone? Because everyone communicates with others, and this book will help you become a more effective communicator. It really is that good. The advice is simple, but profound and will enable the person w
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was an interesting blend of self-help and informal research. George Thompson is an interesting guy. He was a high school English teacher, than a college professor, and then a beat cop. Obviously, going from English professor to cop is not your typical career move, and the entire book has that kind of unexpected juxtaposition of (for example) jumping back and forth between Greek philosophy and responding to domestic abuse calls.

The main idea of the book was empathy: "Effective communica
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Verbal Judo. Although, I think many people want it to be a guide to the most effective communication I see it as an emergency checklist. It gives excellent ways to recover a situation that is moving in the direction of, or has already gone, bad. It provides tools to help when the moment is already there and you may not have had time to think. It's an emergency mitigation plan for your tongue.

What I can also appreciate is that there are solid principles of communication and persuasion t
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio version of this book. Note to self (and you), don't listen to self help books on audible, because I will want to highlight the book and write in the margins. So, I bought a paperback copy to reread.

The start of the book is slow, lots of great stories about why you need to change your verbal ways. Later, the book gets into practicalities and ideas to try.

This is a great book to help me with my students, and I will try to get a professional development session for the sta
Jeshua Newman
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a quick read - relatively easy to grasp, uses a lot of acronyms, details concrete concepts, and overall communicates the message with anecdotes instead of complicated data. These are all very practical concepts you can start applying right now! I recommend this book to anyone who works with people, especially to people who carry a gun to work.
Jon Mellberg
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Delicious insight into communication techniques. Written by a cop for cops, but EVERYONE can benefit for these lessons. Chocked full of colorful anecdotes, this book is an easy (6hrs on Audible) and thoroughly enjoyable read. It, like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", taps the Golden Rule and teases it out, giving plenty of great examples along the way.
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a great tool for everyone! If you interact with others you will benefit from reading this book. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, however, I plan to purchase a paperback copy to add to my reference collection, as I think it will be helpful to refer back to particular sections.
Hitessh Panchal
May 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Some good tips on Respoding and not reacting. Else most of the things he said are taught by our parents, Only which, we forget with time.

Tim Johnson
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
The angry man defeats himself in battle, as well as in life.

I took my time going through this one, went through it twice in fact. In-person communication has become somewhat of a lost art in the age of social media. People treat it too glibly or flippantly. Instead of active listening they merely think of what they will say next when it is their turn to speak. I am as guilty as anyone, hence the driving need to boil the information in this book down to its essentials. We can't cover everything a
Brian Kramp
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: communication
This book is written by a police offers who trains officers in dealing with difficult people. He was scheduled to train the LA police department the week after the Rodney King beating. He suggests, and I believe, that his training could have prevented that disaster. The book teaches some great skills for dealing with people diplomatically. The author sprinkles interesting stores from his police and teaching experience through the book, helping you understand how to put the principles into practi ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: rhetoric
Chock full of acronyms, tactics, strategies and a watered down stoicism designed to make interaction with "opponents" (difficult people of one kind or another) more productive and less confrontational. Thompson was a cop after being an English literature professor (his discipline he labels as "classical" but whatever), and he frequently provides examples of his approaches while apprehending suspects or dealing with wrongdoers of one kind or another. Anyone familiar with Aristotelian rhetoric or ...more
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Dr. Thompson ("Doc Rhino") is the Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute. Since 1983 and until he died in 2011, he personally trained more than 700,000 individuals in Tactical Communications -- a program he developed in 1983 for defusing conflict and redirecting behavior with words.

Doc had a B.A. from Colgate University (1963), a Masters and Doctorate in English from the University of Connecticut (1

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8 likes · 3 comments
“YOU NEVER …” OR “YOU ALWAYS …” These absolute generalizations are lies. Is it true that a child never cleans up his room? (Okay, bad example. That may be true!) Is it true that your spouse is “always late”? Accusatory generalizations are rarely true and indicate that you have both lost perspective and will soon lose the attention of your listener.” 3 likes
“Never react to what people say. React to what they mean. Just remember: People hardly ever say what they mean.” 3 likes
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