066: Five Secrets Training–The Disarming Technique

With Guest Expert, Helen Yeni-Komshian, MD

In this podcast, David, Helen and Fabrice focus on the Disarming Technique, which is the first of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. The definition of the Disarming Technique is finding truth in what the other person is saying, even if it seems blatantly wrong, or illogical, or exaggerated. And it’s based on David’s Law of Opposites.

David brings the Law of Opposites to life with an example of what was perhaps the most devastating criticism he ever received from a patient. He was angry and defensive, and didn’t want to agree with his patient because he was absolutely convinced she was “wrong.” But on the weekend, while he was jogging, he suddenly saw the truth in her cutting remarks, and when he shared his insight with her the following session, the impact was immediate and dramatic.

The use of the Disarming Technique required the death of David’s ego–and that wasn’t easy, because he felt angry and ashamed. David points out that sometimes our patients (as well as family members or people in general) are trying to lash out at us, and want to hurt us, because they feel so frustrated, alone, and abandoned–and asks if we have the courage to let our egos die for them. Are we willing to listen and to see the world through their eyes? This can be exceedingly challenging, and you may not be able to use this, or the other Five Secrets, effectively unless you have a powerful desire to produce some healing and to get close to the people you’re at odds with.

Helen gives a striking example of the power of the Disarming Technique in a case of family member who was complaining about bad drivers. This annoyed her because she was telling herself, “He shouldn’t complain.  He should keep a pleasant atmosphere in the car and ignore bad drivers!” But acting on this impulse only made the problem worse. She explains how hard it can be to use the Disarming Technique when you’re feeling annoyed, but illustrates the transformative power of a skillful disarming statement.

David says that the Disarming Technique is by far the most important and difficult of the Five Communication techniques, and explains how he worked for thirty minutes a day, for two months, to learn how to do it after he created this technique!

The homework assignment for this week will be to use the Disarming Technique on at least one occasion every day in your interactions with others. You can start out by saying something like “You’re right . . . ” or “I agree with you that . . . .”

He gives an example of how he once did this when riding home from work to on the commuter train when he lived in Philadelphia. He sat next to an exceedingly hostile man who bristling and angry, and complaining bitterly about just about everything.

Fabrice and I hope you enjoy our Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!


At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.


6 thoughts on “066: Five Secrets Training–The Disarming Technique

  1. Very insightful.I have a team mate who is a complainer.I will try this disarming technic.You are so generous to share this gem with us.

  2. David,

    Helen is right! I say this respectfully, but her husband should not behave that way. I feel she is beating up on herself for having that feeling. There is something beautiful about her desire not to have to listen to someone else’s complaining and negativity.

    I get the point though: The best way to stop the unwanted behavior is not to fight against it, but to disarm and empathize (or take Uber instead 🙂 ).

    The question I will ask myself is how do I get to the outcome I want? Fight or diplomacy/disarming/empathize.

    You’re the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) David!


    • Thanks, Rob, I will bounce this off of Helen when we next record, so she can address it directly! Always appreciate your comments on podcasts! david

  3. First of of all, big fan of your podcasts. Thank you so much :). I have a question about the disarming technique. How can it best be used when a person is being aggressive and insulting you? I guess what I am trying to learn is how to stay calm in such a situation, voice the truth I hear and feel from the person but also try to be assertive about the fact that it is not appropriate for them to say certain things in an angry tone.

    • Thanks, Kat, you are on the right track, but there is likely room for further growth. If you want, send a specific example. First, write down exactly what the other person said, at least as good as you can, from memory. Then write down exactly what you said next. If you email that to me, I can then comment specifically in a podcast, and also get input from Fabrice and others. I have some possible upgrades on your assertiveness, but the specific example will be vastly superior to theorizing here. Thanks for a terrific question, and I’m so eager to go further with this! All the best for the holidays, Kat, David!

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