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Negotiation & Conflict Resolution are Professional & Personal skills. Tongue Fu.

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Negotiation &

Conflict Resolution







- is a collection of techniques to improve communication and reduce conflict.It includes some techniques that will likely improve your life and those who share it with you.You can hear part of a Sam Horn's Tongue Fu presentation at or

Tongue Fu

kung fu
Kung Fu

Chinese martial art emphasizing internal development to

defuse, disarm and deflect

physical attack.

tongue fu1
Tongue Fu

Martial art of

Verbal self-protection



to prevent conflicts and resentment when you have good intentions.

goals of tongue fu
Goals of Tongue Fu

Change the way others react to your good intentions

Protect yourself

Deal with difficult people without becoming one yourself

it s not what you say but how you say it
It’s not what you say,

but how you say it

lose fighting phrases use friendly phrases
LoseFighting phrases UseFriendly phrases

Avoid “trigger words,” creating resentment -> Rapport


Never say “No” or “You can’t”

No “Buts” about it

Better Coaching

Your mistake

Requests not orders

When people complain

Answer accusations w/ Q’s

Giving bad news

Declining requests

A few Tongue Fu Tools

tongue fu audio

Tongue Fuaudio

34 minutes

Click above to listen

no buts about it lose use


Hurtful word

Anchors an argument





No “Buts” about itLose Use
and instead of but
AND instead of BUT


You did a good job, but you get defensive when someone gives you constructive criticism.

That’s a great idea, but we don’t have the money for it.


and instead of but1
AND instead of BUT


You did a good job, but you get defensive when someone gives you constructive criticism.

That’s a great idea, but we don’t have the money for it.


You did a good job, and, when you can learn to accept constructive criticism, you’ll be an even more valuable team member.

That’s a great idea, and I wonder how we can get it funded?

never say no or can t words to lose words to use

“You can’t…”

“You can’t because…”

“Sure, as soon as…”

“Yes, right after…”

Never say “No” or “Can’t” Words to Lose Words to Use

Shuts the verbal door in the face

Dead-end words

Shifts the responsibility for getting what they want to you – not them

better coaching lose use
“You should have …”

“You need to …”

Can’t change past


Lose face


“Next time…”

“From now on…”

“In the future…”




Better CoachingLose Use

Coach instead of criticize

next time instead of should

“Mistakes are like gold in the mine.”

--- Juran


You should have given thought to the complexity of this beforehand.

You should have had that document reviewed before distributing it to everyone.

next time instead of should1


You should have given thought to the complexity of this beforehand.

You should have had that document reviewed before distributing it to everyone.


Next time, please plan and do risk analysis, before you execute.

Next time, please have another pair of eyes review the document before sending it out to everyone.

don t know what to say when you are accused

Don’t know what to say when you are accused?

Don’t really “say” anything.

Draw out the real issue.


Ask Questions

Answer Accusations

with Questions

answer accusations with questions lose use
Defending or denying

Clarify first

– discover the issue

Answer Accusations with QuestionsLose Use
explanations appear as excuses
Explanations Appear As EXCUSES

If what they’re saying is basically true, say “YOU’RE RIGHT!” (magic words)

and take the AAA Train

A= Agree: “You are right.”

A= Apologize: “I’m sorry.”

A= Act: “I will …”

- sometimes you don’t even have to act

your mistake lose use
“No way! I didn’t…”

“You’re right. I should have…”

Your Mistake?Lose Use

Just admit it, don’t try to excuse it

requests not orders lose use
“You’ll have to…”

“You need to …”

Sounds like orders

“If you would…?”

“Could you please…?”

“Would you like…?”




Requests, not ordersLose Use
giving bad news lose use
“There’s nothing I can do …”


“There’s no way I can help you …”

“I wish…”


“I hope…”

Giving Bad NewsLose Use
eye contact
Eye Contact

Kids know that your eyes show

where your attention is focused

So do adults.


Are they Out of Control?

Turn Ranting and Raving into Reporting by

repeating themselves
Repeating Themselves?

Say, “That’s right,

I’ve got that right here.

What happened next?”

please instead of have to
PLEASE instead of HAVE TO

“Common courtesy isn’t.”

– Tongue Fuism

REQUEST instead of ORDER


You have to get your status reports posted on by Friday.

You have to complete a change request if you want that to be added to the project.


In order to avoid being on the compliance report, please post the status by Friday.

In order that we may provide you with a valid estimate of the impact, please, submit a change request.

sense of humor helps
Sense of Humor Helps!
  • The customer’s always right!
  • Attitude is a choice! We can’t change people. We can change our response to them.
  • Learning to respond, rather than react or ignore, takes practice!
  • Always keep your sense of humor.
can instead of can t
CAN instead of CAN’T




I can’t I have too much work to do.


Here are the options/benefits/risks we can do to satisfy your request. This is what we recommend…

I can. Please schedule time for us to meet. My calendar is up to date.

specifics instead of extremes

“Exaggeration is truth that has lost its temper.” – Kahlil Gibran



You never attend my meetings.

You always tell me you’ll be done on time, and you never are.


This is the second time you’ve missed. Is there a problem? We need your area to be represented.

This is the second time your tasks have been overdue. Please let me know in advance if you’re going to miss the estimates.

when to tongue fu em
When to Tongue Fu ‘em



Worth the consequences?

Good timing?

good manners are made with petty sacrifices
Good manners

are made with petty sacrifices

no one can make you angry without your consent

Short Video by Sam Horn

No one can make you angry without your consent

- story of the employee and boss

- 9 am incident

- fuming all day

- told spouse that night

- who is making you mad?

- who did you give a ride home to?

- who did you set a place for at the table?

you can try to teach a pig to sing but it wastes your time and it annoys the pig
You can try to teach a pig to sing,

but it wastes your time,

and it annoys the pig

make an action plan
Make an Action Plan

Pick one or two to change

In what situation?

Starting today I’m going to …


A difficult conversation is made challenging by one or more of the following:

    • Conflict
    • Fear, anger, or frustration
    • Anxiety, procrastination
    • Disagreement
    • Misunderstanding

In a Learning Conversation, instead of wanting to persuade and get your way, you want to understand what has happened from the other person’ point of view, explain your point of view, share and understand feelings, and work together to figure out a way to manage the problem going forward

it takes a willingness to see and acknowledge your own contribution to your difficult conversations
It takes awillingness to see and acknowledgeyour own contributionto your difficult conversations
all difficult conversations have three components
All Difficult Conversations Have Three Components
  • The ‘What Happened’ Conversation
  • The Feelings Conversation
  • The Identity Conversation

(you might not talk about 2 & 3)


The truth assumption – “I’m right. You’re wrong.”

  • The “intentioninvention” - we “know” the other’s intention (but we don’t); we assume they have bad intentions (and ours is good)
  • The “blame frame” – Time invested in establishing ‘blame’ or ‘fault’ creates defensiveness, anger and frustration.
summary shifting the what happened conversation
Summary : Shifting the “What Happened” Conversation
  • From “the truth” perceptions
      • What’s my story? What’s their story?
  • From blame contribution
      • What have we each contributed to this situation? How can we fix things going forward?
  • From intentions impact
      • What assumptions am I making about their intentions? What is the impact on me?

The Feelings Conversation

  • Have your feelings, or they will have you.
    • Feelings are what make relationships enjoyable and satisfying
    • Feelings are what make difficult conversations difficult

Ignoring (refusing to acknowledge and deal with) feelings – your own and the other person’s – is the most common mistake made in dealing with difficultconversations.


The Identity Conversation

Difficult conversations are not just difficult because we have to face the other person, but because we have to face ourselves.

  • The Identity Conversation
  • (Difficult conversations can threaten our identity)
    • Am I competent?
    • Am I a good person?
    • Am I worthy of love?

Starting a Difficult Conversation

The ‘Third Story’ is not your story and it’s not their story. It’s the point of view of a third person. To discover the third story, think like a mediator.

  • Where to begin
    • Start with ‘The Third Story’
      • The Third Story
      • Their Story
      • Your Story

It’s like a mediator’s opening statement

how to start start from the 3rd story like a mediator s opening put their point of view first
How to start?Start from the 3rd story – like a mediator’s openingPut their point of view first

You seem to think x, and I’m thinking Y. Can we talk about this?I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.I’d like to talk about ___ with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view.I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?


I think we have different perceptions about ___. I’d like to hear your thinking on this.I’d like to talk about ___. I think we may have different ideas about how to ____.I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well.

apology korea
Apology - Korea


謝過: Apology

沙果: Apple

  • What is it?
  • How to make it?
  • When to make it?
  • Any negative legal consequences?

with a focus on negotiation and conflict resolution

apology defined
Apology defined:

"an acknowledgment intended as an atonement for some improper or injurious remark or act;

an admission to another of a wrong or discourtesy done him accompanied by an expression of regret."

timing when to apologize quickly or later
Timing – When to apologize?Quickly or Later?

If too quick, it loses power and legitimacy.

There should be some analysis and introspection

The more an apology is delayed,

the more profound the offense may seem

in the eyes of the victim.

apology in mediation deborah levi
Apology in Mediation Deborah Levi

“Tactical" (acknowledging the victim's suffering in order to gain credibility and influence the victim's bargaining behavior)

“I’m sorry but [I didn’t do anything wrong.]”

“Explanation" (attempting to excuse the offender's behavior and make the other party understand that behavior);

“I [here’s my excuse].”

“Formalistic" (capitulating to the demand of an authority figure);

Says the requested words. Tell you sister you are sorry.

“I’m sorry Hope.” –said sarcastically.

“Happy-ending" (accepting responsibility and expressing regret for the bad act).

Hearer is convinced the speaker believes she was at least partially responsible and the speaker feels regret.

The Role of Apology in Mediation,

72 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1165, 1172-75 (1997)

bad apologies
Bad Apologies

People fail to acknowledge - (“for whatever I did”);

use the passive voice - (“mistakes were made”);

make the apology conditional (an apology “if mistakes have

been made”);

question whether the victim was damaged or minimize the offense (an

apology “to the degree you were hurt” or “only a few soldiers were involved);

use a simple “sorry” instead of acknowledging responsibility;

apologize to the wrong party;

Apologize for the wrong offense.

An Effective Apology

1. A valid acknowledgment of the offense

2. An effective explanation

3. Expressions of remorse, shame, and humility

4. A reparation of some kind

by Aaron Lazare

apology research
Apology Research

Full apology - much more likely to settle

(73 percent of the cases),

Partial apology – cut settlement rate in 1/2

(35 percent)

No apology is better than a bad one –

(52 percent settled without an apology)

Jennifer K. Robbennolt (U. Illinois) - reactions of 145 professionals to situations involving some form of apology, mainly a legal settlement after an accident.

Jennifer K. Robbennolt, Apologies and Legal Settlement: An Empirical Examination, 102 MICH. L. REV. 460 (2003-2004).

legal concerns
Legal Concerns
  • Saying “I’m sorry” can be used against you in court to argue you were at fault, and therefore liable in a lawsuit.
  • A growing body of statutes designed to allow for “safe” apologies that can not be used against the apologizer
    • especially medical malpractice for doctors
hre 409 5 admissibility of expressions of sympathy and condolence
HRE 409.5Admissibility of expressions of sympathy and condolence.

Evidence of statements or gestures that express sympathy, commiseration, or condolence concerning the consequences of an event in which the declarant was a participant is not admissible to prove liability for any claim growing out of the event.  This rule does not require the exclusion of an apology or other statement that acknowledges or implies fault even though contained in, or part of, any statement or gesture excludable under this rule.


i m sorry
I’m sorry
  • “I’m sorry” is excluded
  • “I’m sorry because I …” – Admit what they are sorry about.
a safe apology in mediation
A “Safe” Apology in Mediation

Because statements made in mediation are generally confidential, a person a apologize during a mediation session without the fear of that statement being used again them at a trial if the mediation does not lead to a settlement.

barkai 800 loan
Barkai $800 Loan


You went to your friend’s demanded the money back in front of several people.

You were embarrassed when told to leave your friend’s office and are angry because you have not been repaid. You thought you could trust your friend.

You said you would “Take ‘em to court.”

Other Disputant

You were surprised, angry, and embarrassed by Barkai's actions at your office. It was unnecessary. You think you lost face in front of your co-workers. Barkai should have discussed the matter privately with you.

You were planning to pay it back soon. You told Barkai to leave.

This book is aboutConfrontations withOur closest relationshipsFamilyFriends Co-workers Significant OthersSpouses
the baby self
The Baby Self

No patience

No self-control

Self-centered, piggy, and clueless

Lives for the present

Accepts only perfection

Has unrealistic expectations

The Baby Self wants to control everything and everybody, always.

you simply say
You simply say …

“I’m sorry I’m late.”

they have something more to say
They have something more to say

“You are always late.”

you feel the need to answer back
You feel the need to answer back.

“I’m not always late.”

they respond to your response
They respond to your response

“You are always late.”

you respond again and so do they
You respond again, and so do they

You: “You’re exaggerating.”

They: “No. What about last Thursday? What about when I was supposed to meet you for dinner at 6 p.m.?”

another example
“Please pass the salt.”

“Why can’t you reach it yourself?”

“Why can’t I reach it myself?”

“Yeah, you are the one who wants the salt.”

What is your problem? Do you have to be difficult on purpose?”

“What is your problem?”

Another example
"You forgot to buy milk!"
  • "You never said anything about milk."
  • "Yes, I definitely did.
  • You never listen.“
  • "I do too listen. You never said milk."
  • "No, I did say milk. You just don't listen."
the shut up approach
The “Shut Up” approach

You: “I’m sorry I’m late.”

They: “You’re always late.”

Do not defend yourself:

You repeat: “I’m sorry.”

Then say no more.

The Number One Warning Sign:

The feeling that you absolutely must get them to see it your way.

“I can't shut up,

I can't move on, and

I can't leave it”

  • Think: Stop talking if there is nothing to be gained (and lots to be lost).
  • Don't repeat yourself. Make your point once (and sit down / shut up).
  • Don't take their bait. Don’t get sidetracked. Ignore it.

"You're just like your father" or "You always say that!"

  • Give your advice once and move on. Don't require them to recognize it as the most brilliant suggestion ever.

The most you can ever do with advice

is to give it.

You can’t be sure it’s taken.

The result?

Peace, positive dialogue, and happier relationships all around

even if, deep down, you know

The result?

Peace, positive dialogue, and happier relationships all around

even if, deep down, you know

you are right!

The vast majority of adult arguments between close friends or couples do not end with instant solutions (if they end at all)
in good arguments
In Good Arguments

Each person gets to make their point

Each person gets heard by the other

The argument ends

If you must get “the last word”

Do it the way introverts do,


Looking for additional reading or listening?

John BarkaiUniversity of Hawaii Law School