Verbal Self-Defense

Self-defense isn’t always about fighting, sometimes it can also be about redirecting energy.

Learning when to stand up for yourself and when to let things slide is one of the greatest challenges from childhood and continuing into adulthood. Engaging with emotionally abusive people can be overwhelming. This can happen with people at work, family members, friends and strangers.While it can be satisfying to tell someone off or to escalate the situation, it’s often not the safest choice.

It has been my experience that having a few phrases or techniques on hand to use which can buy you a little breathing room.

When someone makes a loaded statement: “That’s interesting, why do you say that?” or “What makes you say that?” or “That’s an odd thing to say”

When someone asks a question you don’t feel comfortable answering: “Why do you ask?”

From my experience in customer service I developed a method for dealing with irate customers:

  1. Acknowledge the situation: I can see this means a lot to you, If I were in your situation I might feel the same way
  2. Voice your participation: I think we can find a solution to this, I might be able to help you out if you’ll let me or Voice your limitations: I’d like to help you with this, but I’m not the right person for this, This isn’t something that I can do, but I can point you in a better direction
  3. Enlist their cooperation: If you want to continue talking to me I need you to bring your voice down, You have  my attention but it will be hard to work this out if you don’t slow down a little, If you want this resolved we have to work together on this

There will always be times when the other person is immune to reason or incapable of controlling themselves. In those instances you must remove yourself from the equation. Sometimes this means leaving, sometimes this means finding away to get them to leave.

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