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.
Actions speak louder than words
Opportunities to manage potentially upsetting conversations occur on a regular basis for most of us. We humans can become very disagreeable when we lose our comfort. Just like babies, we make a fuss when we’re hungry, tired or discontented.
As with any kind of battle skill or martial art, practice makes perfect.
With that in mind, I’m reporting on each chapter as I work through this interesting book.
Of course, the first step in any encounter is to assess the situation.
Chapter One: Identifying the Verbally Venomous Opponent
“By identifying would-be attackers immediately, you will be on guard to either ward off their verbal advances or verbally attack back. Close examination of their facial, body, and verbal language can help you determine whether you are standing in front of a friend or foe.” (p. 3)
Chapter one contains a lengthy list of the various ways we can identify what behaviors the person is exhibiting to enable our assessment of whether we are under verbal attack or not.
Unfortunately, we humans feel the sting of someone’s words much longer than we remember the sensation of physical pain.
It can feel embarrassing to fall into a bully’s trap. Their off-hand remarks spoken loud enough for everyone to hear are supposedly “funny”.
Feeling undermined or diminished is cause for alarm
The most important thing I’ve learned about managing my feelings of shame over how I handled or mishandled an event of being bullied is to reach out for help as soon as possible.
That moment of hesitation when I’m thinking “what’s going on?!” is the moment I need to stop and assess before I make a wrong move.
My next step is to sort something out so that the next time – and there always is a next time – I will be prepared.
That means “get some back-up.”
I watch a lot of murder mysteries and cop shows on TV. When I hear the protagonist say “call for back-up,” I recognize someone who knows when to ask for support and help.
Often, when one of the main characters is “going it alone”, either he or she – or worse – some innocent bystander ends up getting hurt.
The moral of the story?
Wait until you have armored yourself and victory is assured. Plus, it’s always good to have witnesses. Bullies operate on “divide and conquer” most of the time.
Predators hunt by separating the weakest animals from the herd
In all areas of your life, build a deep reservoir of supportive friends and family. A good strategy is to have a couple of over-sized, hefty people in your corner (meaning actual physical size or strong reputation or power base) to encourage bullies to go in another direction.
Make having friends like these part of your arsenal. Appreciate them and return the favor when and if someone is bullying them by gossiping about them, for example.
Bullies pick on anyone they think they can dominate
Sorry just had to end on a funny note after such a serious discussion.
Lana Turner, famous actress from the 40s and beyond, became known as the “Sweater Girl” after her first movie appearance as a school girl wearing a tight sweater.
So, even if someone is messing with you, toss your head and strut your stuff. Just like Lana would.
Looking good is half the battle.
Please remember to talk to your kids about being bullied. When kids clam up about what’s going on at school, it could mean they’re ashamed to say something. It feels just the same whether the bullying is happening at school or at work.