The following is a re-post 10-12-11
Doesn’t there come a point when you are just so tired of verbal attacks and accusations that you start to just agree with everything your opponent says? For example, one time my ex husband said to me, “God, you are a bitch! A Nasty, evil pathetic person!” Normally, my reaction would be to defend myself from such garbage, to argue with him, as if I might be able to change his mind about me. That’s rather futile. This time, when my ex threw out the verbal attack, I just said, “You are absolutely right. Aren’t you glad to be rid of me?” That shut him down fast. It didn’t matter that I agreed. No one was around to hear about it and if by chance my ex had recorded our conversation and I’d been asked about it in a courtroom, I would have just said, “I agree that is his perception of me. Everyone is entitled to their perceptions. That is not how I perceive myself.” I think that would shut down any cross examiner also.
There are a couple of books that talk about how to use your words to deflect attacks. One is Verbal Judo by George J. Thompson, Ph.D., and Jerry B. Jenkins and the other is Tongue Fu by Sam Horn. I strongly recommend reading these books. You can learn how to stop verbal exchanges from escalating.
Verbal Judo is used for law enforcement training. I can see why. There is an example in the book of a police officer being able to stop a domestic argument without having to do much at all. There was no getting in the middle and trying to break up the fight. Instead, he walked in, sat on the couch and started reading the newspaper, while the fight raged on. Then he nonchalantly asked if he could use the phone to call about a car for sale. His behavior baffled the fighting couple so much that the fight was over.
Another example from Verbal Judo is about Verbal Judo being used against the author. He was driving behind a kid who was driving like a maniac and when they both arrived at the same destination, George asked the kid, “Where did you learn to drive?!? The kid answered simply, “Texas.” Where was George to go with that answer? Nowhere. There is nothing more to say. The kid used verbal judo against George.
One paragraph from the book struck a chord with me. I thought about what it said in terms of people stuck in the court system and engaging in an ongoing battle with you ex. It seems so true for people in the court battle situations that I have highlighted it in bold. The paragraph was, “You’ll find that you can remain calm, which is a particularly valuable art. If your antagonist can upset you, he owns you at some level. Even if you score an immediate “victory” by telling him off, he may own you later when the encounter is evaluated by your boss, in court, by your family or wherever.” Emphasis mine. That is definitely something to think about.
Tongue Fu is about the same tactics from Verbal Judo, except that it goes farther. It is more about interpersonal communication. Sam includes the importance of keeping control of your emotions and staying focused on positive things. The book has an endorsement from John Gray, author of the Mars Venus books. I love Mars Venus books and I own all of them. As a matter of fact, I own several copies of certain ones. Sometimes for my Life/Divorce Coach clients or those in one of my classes about dating, you’ll receive one from me as a gift. I find them so helpful. They even helped me change my thinking about my ex and going through the court system. I had to think, does he act this way because he is out to destroy me or is he just acting in the Mars way? Now that I understand the differences, I am successful in all aspects of life. So, if John gray recommends Tongue Fu, count me in! Anyway, back to Tongue Fu. When discussing how to take charge of your emotions, she writes about bringing the people who make you mad along with you. They’re in the car, they’re at the dinner table. You brought them with you. You don’t have to choose to do that. Leave them at the court house where they made you mad and do not let them ruin your day.
In my life before the family court experience, things like this came easily to me. I was usually able to keep things like this from controlling my life, but I lost these skills during my court battle. Thankfully, I found a way to get them back. It takes practice and a deep desire to change your life. It is exhausting to be angry and hate filled all the time. If you’re tired of it, tell yourself that you are done. Say, “Enough!” and stop playing the game.
I did it and I know you can, too. I got so fed up that I didn’t care what happened. I had to contain it to only certain areas of my life where I’d let it in. I even got to the point where the Parenting Consultant had made one too many demands on me and I finally told her, “You got five years of my life and you are not getting one day more!” She knew I was serious and not the meek, unassertive, gutless woman that I had been brought before her years earlier.
When you get to the point where you are just fed up and don’t care anymore, things start happening. I think of the movie, “Office Space”, it is a classic. The main character gets hypnotized into not caring about things anymore. The more he doesn’t care, the more good things happen to him. He gets promoted, he gets the hot girl, he does things that make him happy, like not going to work on Saturday, and his life is changed. Watch it and think about applying the I don’t care anymore attitude to your life and your court hassles.
I hope that you get a chance to read Verbal Judo and Tongue Fu and even the Mars Venus series. These are very helpful for anyone who is dealing with a difficult person. You can use these skills in the court setting, at work and in relationships. You can learn to communicate better with everyone you meet.
To find more books by Sam Horn, John gray or to purchase Verbal Judo or Tongue Fu, check the sidebar and my store page!