Art of Verbal Self-Defence

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By Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb

VERBAL self-defence is to protect you from the toxic negative communication that is so much a part of today’s daily life.

What is the gentle art of verbal self-defence, and how can you use it in your life? It has nothing to do with lashing out with a quick comeback when someone is arguing with you. This is what many people think of on hearing the term. But verbal self-defence is actually almost the opposite of this image. Instead, it involves stopping to think before reacting to an antagonist in your life.

People normally react to dangers without much thinking. If someone starts an argument, one immediately argues back, even if he/she does not understand or know what the argument is all about. Verbal self-defence is all about how to stop and think before jumping into an argument.

There are three basic steps in the process of verbal self-defence.

1. Understand the situation
Firstly, verbal self-defence involves really understanding the situation.
When someone starts arguing with you, your brain sends you into a “fight or flight” response. This happens because you really do not know what is happening in the situation and how to handle it. The first step is to assess whether the person who is verbally attacking you is a threat, he/she is insecure, being ignorant or simply an argumentative person by nature.

2. Listen, do not leap to conclusions

Do not jump to conclusions without carefully listening to what the other person is saying. Listening involves understanding the motive behind what the other person is saying, not just hearing the words being said. Once you turn off your listening response, arguing then begins.

However, when you carefully listen, you will find out whether you are really under attack and this is valuable, because you can then respond to the attack correctly, since you now know the nature and the motive of the attack.
3. Responding correctly

The final step is to show the attacker that you are not willing to play the victim. This does not mean that you ignore the attack. Instead, you create the proper language around yourself by responding in a way that diffuses the attack. Combine verbal self-defence and psychology to prove that you are not an easy target.

Goal of Verbal Self-defence

The main goal of verbal self-defence is to create a positive language environment around yourself that cannot be penetrated by those that wish to start an argument with you. By successfully diffusing verbal attacks without argument, you will quickly find that fewer people try to attack you.

They will choose someone else to pick on and leave you alone. You can defend your rights without a fight or argument, showing that you are the bigger person in the situation.

Advantages of Verbal Self-defence

The advantage of verbal self-defence is the ability to live a life without arguments and fights. Use positive, calm measures to stop a verbal attack and keep it from escalating into an argument and hence eliminate negative, harmful arguments. This will surely create a much more positive living environment for you and those around you.

Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Namibia Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy.

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