Verbal Aikido, a Technique to Defend Yourself from Verbal Attacks

· July 4, 2018

Verbal Aikido is a technique derived from the martial art Aikido. This martial art was born in modern Japan, where it was created by a martial arts master named Morihei Ueshiba. It’s based on the principle that, in conflict, people should seek to neutralize, not harm, the opponent.

Like all martial arts, Aikido isn’t just about combat techniques. There’s a whole philosophy underneath it. Those who practice it seek, above all, personal evolution. They involve the physical, mental, and spiritual planes in their practice. They don’t look down on their opponents, but rather try to understand them and learn from them.

A group of authors started to apply these same principles to communication. That is how they developed the concept of Verbal Aikido. They found that it’s an excellent way to avoid and/or process everyday conflicts. We can exercise it to bring more peace, serenity, and happiness to our lives. Like any technique, it’s something that can be learned, and we gain great benefits from practicing it.

Verbal aikido and the response to an aggression

People who promote Verbal Aikido indicate that, when receiving verbal aggression, the most important thing is to preserve your own well-being. A verbal attack can unleash a hurricane of emotions and confuse your mind. That’s why it’s essential to maintain serenity and focus on the purpose of solving the problem, not making it worse.

The first thing you should do is not react automatically, but rather use the force of the attack to pivot. This should place you right where your attacker wants. Instead of looking at it from the opposite side, the idea is to try to see what this person is looking at.

man and woman arguing

Verbal Aikido techniques

Verbal Aikido has some key techniques for facing attacks. These are mechanisms that have proven to be effective in dealing with these types of situations and are inspired by this martial art’s movements.

The main techniques are:

  • Consent and yield. Use this when the attack doesn’t pose any risk to you and has become repetitive. This is internal and is meant to keep any verbal attack from harming you.
  • Yield and stay in the starting position. This means recognizing that the other person has a point in their argument, but keeping to your own point of view and making that known. You can use this for intellectual disputes.
  • Flatter. You can use this when the other person is verbally attacking you with the desire to show that they’re superior. Compliments or flattery deactivate their aggressiveness since it satisfies the aggressor’s desire.
  • Detoxifying reply. This is when you reply to the aggression with a question. This has two advantages. On one hand, it allows the other person to evaluate if they’re being reasonable. On the other hand, it gives you a small margin of time to calm down and not react violently. This is a good idea when someone personally attacks you.
  • Objective verification. This is when you let the other person know you’re aware they’re upset with you. At the same time, you express that you want to resolve the difference through healthy communication. For example: “I know you’re uncomfortable with my idea, but I’d like to explain why I think this way”.
  • Confrontation. This puts a brake on a lack of respect or excessive verbal aggression. It looks something like this: “I may have made a mistake, but you have no right to treat me that way, which is why I demand an apology”.
  • Moderate your tone. In this case, you’re trying to make the other person aware they’re hurting you and that they’re not admitting it. For example: “If you continue to speak to me like that (or in that tone), this conversation is over.”
couple arguing

In the end, Verbal Aikido seeks to manage conflicts intelligently. Here, you only spend energy where it’s really necessary. Ideally, you should learn to count to 10 first, not react aggressively, and then apply some of these effective techniques.