Tongue Fu!® History
How this book got
In 1989, Dr. Ray Oshiro, a continuing
education program specialist, asked me to present a public workshop on
dealing with difficult people for the University of Hawaii. We had both
noticed the same trend: Organizations were increasingly requesting
training to help their employees learn how to cope with rude customers
and uncooperative coworkers.
In creating the curriculum for this course,
I realized why most people are woefully unprepared to handle difficult
behavior. Conflict resolution is not taught in school along with
history, math and science. As a result, people don’t know what to do or
say when someone mistreats them. They often end up RIK (Retaliating in
Kind) or SIS (Suffering in Silence). Neither reaction helps.
My goal was to develop real-life responses
people could use immediately to handle the challenges they face on a
daily basis. I didn’t want to waste time on theories. Platitudes don’t
help much when someone’s yelling at you or blaming you for something
that’s not your fault.
I knew I was right on track one hour into
that first seminar. At our morning break, one of the attendees didn’t
leave his chair. He just sat there slowly nodding his head, gazing off
into the distance. I walked over and asked him what he was thinking
He said, “Sam, I’m a real estate broker.
Several of my clients are extremely demanding and arrogant. They seem to
think they can teat me any way they want, and I’m tired of it. I took
this course to learn some zingers to fire back and put them in their
place. That’s not what this is about, is it?”
Glad that he had grasped the essence of the
course so quickly, I agreed. “You’re right. When people are being
difficult, it doesn’t help to get back, get mad or get even.”
He went on: “I’m a student of martial arts.
I’ve studied karate, Tai Chi, aikido, and judo. What you’re suggesting
the verbal equivalent of kung fu, isn’t it?” I said, “That’s
true. It’s kind of like… tongue fu!®” We look at each other and
burst out laughing. Eureka! The perfect name.
Since then, I’ve offered several hundred
workshops for a wide variety of groups from Young President Organization
executives and IRS auditors to members of the Honolulu police
department. Participants have asked for a book on the subject, saying
they want to take these ideas home, read them again and again, and share
them with friends, family and coworkers.
An Overview of Tongue Fu!®
“There are no victims without volunteers.” Anonymous
The purpose of kung fu (a Chinese martial
art emphasizing internal development) is to defuse, disarm or deflect
someone’s physical attack. The purpose of Tongue Fu!® (A mental
art emphasizing internal development) is to defuse, disarm, or deflect
someone’s psychological attack. It is a spoken form of
self-defense--the constructive alternative to giving a tongue-lashing or
to being tongue tied.
The goal of Tongue Fu!® is to learn how to
conduct yourself with confidence so you keep from being abused verbally.
If provoked, however, you will be able to use these martial arts for the
mind and mouth to skillfully protect yourself. Never again will you have
a mental meltdown and feel helpless in the face of aggression.
Tongue Fu!® is not just about handling unfair
or unkind behavior. It’s more a philosophy of life, a way to communicate
that can help you get along better with everyone both on and off the
job. You’ll learn how to prevent conflicts and produce cooperation and
how to choose to stay kind even if other are being inconsiderate
No one enjoys dealing with difficult people,
yet it is an everyday part of life. These ideas can help you skillfully
disarm disagreeable people so your personal and professional
relationships are less stressful and more enjoyable. You’ll learn dozens
of clever, non-combative comebacks so you can speak up for yourself when
people are putting you down. And finally, you’ll find out how to stand
on your own two feet without stepping on other people’s toes so you can
avoid being hurt or causing hurt.