Confrontation Skills: Verbal Communication Skills

The Art of Confrontation

Verbal Judo

As a general rule, human beings do not like to be told what they can and cannot do.  As a result, those charged with the responsibility of addressing negative behaviors are in an unenviable position.  However, with some basic skill development and self-confidence, conflict resolution can be relatively stress-free and educational for all.

The martial art known as Judo, utilizes the principles of balance and leverage, as a defensive weapon to dissuade or repel another person.  Verbal Judo uses similar principles, applied in a verbal rather than physical realm.  As an “intervener”, verbal judo can be helpful in gaining compliance from an individual or group, without creating unnecessary conflict or stress.  What follows is a step-by-step guide to gaining compliance from an individual or group who is causing a disturbance and/or violating community or University standards.

NOTE:  Just like in the martial art Judo, the idea here is to use the least amount of authority (energy) necessary.  Once compliance is gained, the interaction should end.

Behavior is observed


  1. Start by …


  1. Next ..


  1. ..
  2. Then …
  3. Finally …


Identify the behavior and ask for compliance as a community member.  As a community member, you have the authority/right to expect others to support community standards and policies.

Identify yourself as a FACULTY/staff member.  Explain your institutional role with regard to community standards and university policy, and ask for compliance.

Explain the POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES, should the individual(s) fail to comply with your request (e.g., formal documentation, judicial proceedings, and police intervention).

OFFER to call the next highest authority, if that’s what the individual(s) would prefer to the consequences listed above.

CALL THE NEXT HIGHEST AUTHORITY and let them intervene.

Remember, only 7% of what you communicate is done through words.  Your approach and demeanor can dictate the other person’s response.  Therefore, to be effective, remain calm at every step.  Eventually, you will have the last say.  A persistent, assertive, and polite approach will communicate your resolve to gain compliance, and will likely result in a positive outcome.  If at any time you feel as if you are losing your composure, step away from the scene and ask for assistance.