Stopping Verbal Abuse -- Listen

We will discuss here the strategies, the LISTEN part, of Stopping being the victim of Verbal Abuse. Really, it's okay, just to listen, to say nothing, to stay calmly present, giving the craved attention silently. Listen to how long the abuser can keep going alone!

LISTEN to the vocal emphases in the verbal abuse, and do not mirror them. In order to keep the voice moderate in response, it's even okay to use a computer voice, or some other monotone. Practice to do this without mocking or otherwise baiting.

LISTEN to the personal language of the verbal abuse, and avoid it. Use It-language instead of I-language in any observations. "It would seem that the noise level has risen in this room." "It might be interesting to know who will clean up these broken dishes."

For Stopping Verbal Abuse, LISTEN and respond only to a presupposition, because everything else is only bait. Simply and plainly counter the presupposition: "I am a good mother." "I do the best I know for you." "I do not feel guilty."

In Stopping Verbal Abuse, the next comeback after one's counter to the presupposition will likely have a stronger hook and bait. Repeat, do not explain, the counter to the presupposition. Repeat as many times as necessary, only calmly and with a steady voice.

Some helpful words for Stopping Verbal Abuse: "So you say." "Nonsense." "When did you start thinking that I (state presupposition)?" Remember, these words refer to the presupposition and not to the bait, and no explanation is needed to the abuser.

More words for Stopping Verbal Abuse: "It's interesting/common that (class of people: "adult children" or "men" or "caretakers,") think that (class of people: "parents" or "women" or "elderly) (state presupposition)." Add no further comment or explanation.

By LISTENing and refusing to answer a fool according to his folly, you can signify that you will no longer be the one whose time and attention will be consumed by this abuser. You might even free and lead the abuser to better ways, but don't count on it.

If you're the verbal abuser, LISTENing to identify it is your first step to freedom. Study everything about listening here, and then find a good listener with whom to practice together these skills. You can free yourself to get the attention you crave in happy ways!

Some of the ideas for this article came from these works:

Elgin, Suzette Haden. The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1980.

Elgin, Suzette Haden. How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable: Getting Your Point Across with the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Copyright 2014 Wilma Zalabak