I agree! I study a martial art as well and it has this philosophy. In fact, before even causing pain, this art (and probably other arts I haven't studied do this as well) often trains us to cause a momentary hesitation in our opponent. For example, a flick toward the eyes, which does not touch the eyes at all and therefore causes no pain, will still produce a flinch reaction that momentarily interrupts the attack.

It's useful to think about what a verbal preliminary step before causing verbal pain might be. For example, it might be an unexpectedly sympathetic remark. Or it might be something off-topic--the verbal sparring partner is looking for a fight, and you sidestep.

But to achieve verbal sidestepping, you'd need to become very secure in yourself so that you don't have the instinctive need most people have to respond to blame with blame, attack with attack.

I'm not sure what the best way to help a person achieve that kind of psychological security is. Physical training that achieves physical security (like martial arts or yoga training that helps you develop the stability of your physical center) seems to help a lot. But are there other good ways of training that? Please let me know what you think; I'm very interested in this topic.