Verbal aggression can be just as hurtful as physical violence, but there is a simple technique you can use to defend yourself.
Countless books on martial arts have been written, describing a variety of very effective ways to defend yourself against physical attacks. But for the person often subjected regularly to a verbal onslaught of rude – and even crude – insulting, offensive remarks, very little advice is available.
Although verbal aggression leaves no physical scars, there is no doubt that the mental and emotional damage can be just as damaging.
The offensive remarks can take many forms. The demeaning and hurtful comments don’t necessarily have to be delivered in the form of a vituperative, loud, bad-tempered outburst by someone who has completely lost control. The remarks could be softly spoken, snide, sarcastic comments made by a person who derives a great deal of sadistic pleasure from inflicting as much emotional pain as possible.
No matter what form the verbal aggression takes, there is generally a common purpose – to make the recipient of the verbal onslaught feel small and inferior.
The verbal aggression frequently continues over a lengthy period. This may be due to a number of reasons. Very often victims are unable to defend themselves because they are often subservient, and in some way defendant – perhaps financially – on the person making the insulting remarks.
There are many instances where bullying supervisors or managers continually subject employees to continual harsh and unwarranted criticism. The employees feel powerless to do anything about the situation for fear of losing their jobs.
This verbal aggression can take place anywhere. It is just as common in the board room at meetings of Directors as it is on the factory floor.
Very often verbal aggression occurs in the home, between married couples or partners. Here again the intention is usually a mean and vindictive desire to inflict pain- in this case emotional pain.
The verbal aggression continues because the victims do not know how to defend themselves adequately. They have not learned the defensive techniques.
When a child is subjected to continual teasing by someone physically bigger, stronger or older and feels powerless to deal with the emotional bullying, the usual advice given by a parent is to quote the idiom. “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you”.
But, as everyone knows, words can definitely hurt, and very often the emotional pain is far more severe than the physical pain – which is often only temporary.
There is a technique that can be easily learned – by young and old. It is very effective. Basically it involves a way to ridicule the person guilty of the verbal aggression. It also involves an ability to completely disregard and ignore the irritating, annoying, insulting, or offensive comments being made.
This technique of completely ignoring comments you have no wish to hear, involves teaching yourself a special skill – the ability to assume a state of “convenient deafness”.
This is a skill that is not as difficult to learn as you might imagine. In fact it is a skill you probably had as a child, but with the passage of time you have lost it.
Children have a remarkable capacity for assuming a state of “convenient deafness” when its suits their purpose. If, for example, they are deeply engrossed in watching a thrilling T.V. program, and so focused on the exciting events, repeated orders by parents to switch off the Television, will be met by deaf ears.
Let me give you details of a technique I learnedmany years ago that involves focus of a different kind. This technique has stood me in very good stead over the years. I have always found it remarkably effective, not only in diffusing situations that could easily have become nasty, had I responded to outbursts of uncontrolled bad temper, but also in enabling me to deal with potentially difficult situations without being in any way stressed or upset.
Whenever I happened to be faced with a situation that involved someone attacking me verbally and making insulting remarks, I would suddenly become completely silent. I wouldn’t say a word. Then I would smile; slowly lift my hand and make a point of touching my ear.
Then I would repeat the following little verse silently to myself, over and over again, while continuing to smile:
” Funny noises from your mouth
I switch off and ignore
And focus my attention
On the movements of your jaw!”
I would focus on the movements of the offending person’s jaw with obvious, intense concentration as if it was the only thing I was really interested in.
My actions made it very easy for me to develop “convenient deafness” and “switch off” completely. I never heard, listened to, or tried to understand any of the sounds coming from the person’s mouth. It was just a babble of unintelligible noise.
After a while it became quite obvious that I wasn’t listening to a word that was being said; nor was it affecting me in any way.
The shouting stopped and the person would storm away in frustration.
I was not stressed, upset or disturbed in any way by the outburst.
Try this simple but every effective technique whenever you are faced with instances of verbal aggression. With a little practice you will master it. You’ll find that you can “switch off” without much effort. The more you use it, the more proficient you’ll become. You’ll find it as useful as I have.