This is the third post in my Practicing Verbal Self-Defense series. I’m reading this great book called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Verbal Self-Defense” by Dr. Lillian Glass. As it turns out, Dr. Glass has written several successful books on this subject. Plus, she’s the body language expert for the Millionaire Matchmaker show on Bravo TV.
Once you’ve identified that the person standing before you is exhibiting behavior that helps determine whether we are under verbal attack or not – the assessment stage – the next thing to do is to sort out exactly what happened that resulted in feeling “zapped”.
Dr. Glass does an excellent job of reviewing the variety of ways we verbally zap each other in conversation.
I found this chapter uncomfortable to read as I recognized things that have been done to me AND things that I’ve done to other people… especially the “just kidding” responses.
Chapter 2 Knowing When You’ve Been Verbally Zapped
Sometimes you get verbally zapped and you don’t even realize it until it is too late. When you do finally realize it, you become psychologically and physiologically tortured as the devastating scenario runs through your mind over and over again. You often feel like kicking yourself because of what you could have said. You may start to assault yourself for being “stupid” and “ignorant” and not charging forth to defend yourself against your offensive adversary. By learning how to always be on guard for possible verbal arrows, you will save yourself a lot of grief and physical pain.
One thing I advocate for those of who want to stay young from the inside out is to pay as much attention to what comes out of your mouth as you pay to what you put into your mouth. Otherwise, you run the risk of tossing a zinger at people.
Spending lavishly on organic food and then trashing your spouse over the dinner table can only lead to indigestion and long faces. What a waste!
If you really are ready to take on a daily practice of clearing yourself of the impact of being verbally “zapped”, then I strongly recommend that you join me in recognizing the exact moment when the zinger happens.
Assess the Situation
At this point, we haven’t gotten to the what-to-do-next stage. For now, we’re assessing and deciding the type of offense and the level of upset we’re experiencing.
I also strongly encourage you to have conversations with your kids to determine what’s happening in their conversations with school friends. You might be able to catch something early on by recognizing when things seem to be heading in the wrong direction.
Dr. Glass suggests that as we continue to step over or ignore the warning signs, we set ourselves up for someone to say something so painful that we can’t ignore it any longer.
By then, of course, the damage is done. Words that sting play over and over in our minds.
Dr. Glass states in chapter two, “When people are verbally abusing you on a constant basis, they are in essence taking away chunks of your life.”
Taking away chunks of your life meaning that we stop doing things that we used to enjoy because we’re trying to avoid someone
This happened to me this year.
I belong to a spiritual group that meets once a week on Thursdays. One guy got on my nerves consistently with his overbearing personality – so I just stopped going. I didn’t see any way to change the situation. I took myself away from the group for several months.
I’ve recently returned to the group. He’s still there. Somehow, he’s become more tolerable. Maybe he’s changed, softened a little bit. Or maybe I have. Whichever is true, I made the right choice for me at the time. I assessed the situation and gave myself the space I needed.
Just like in physical sparring, getting out of the way is as important as delivering the right counter-shot at the right time
What are your experiences with dealing with people who “zap”?
Where do you notice yourself “zinging” other people with jokes that are more barbed than funny?
For more posts in this series: start here Verbal Judo
photo credit: ronda rousey