Whether the ambush comes from someone plagued with jealousy, a social anxiety disorder, or an inferiority complex, you owe it to yourself to neutralize—and not internalize—the verbal attack. Here are a few strategies that are sure to stop that verbal bully in his tracks.
Strategy 1: Emotional Balance Strategy
When facing off with someone who is verbally abusive, it is important to center your emotions and your confidence. A predator is always searching for prey, and if you expose yourself as having low self-esteem, the verbal abuser will be tempted to attack that weakness. Take a moment to fortify your mental gates by boosting your self-confidence; if you are able to focus on your strengths and the respect and love you have for yourself, the verbal attacks will fail to breech those iron mental defenses thus preventing serious emotional injury.
Strategy 2: The Listener Controls the Interaction
Keep in mind that the person tossing out the barbs is only doing so to get a reaction out of you or other people around you. Remembering this when the verbal assault begins will keep you feeling confident in having the upper hand and impervious to those verbal slings and arrows. They need you to react in order to feed their attack, so why give them what they want by reacting out fear, anger or weakness?
Strategy 3: Nip the Comments in the Bud
One way to neutralize the situation is to call them out on their boorishness. A calm and confidently delivered phrase, such as “that’s really rude and you need to back off,” shows them you are willing to stand up for yourself. It also displays your unwillingness to play the role of their verbal punching bag.
Strategy 4: Change the Direction
Another technique in verbal defense is to change the direction of the attack, which throws your opponent off-balance. They will expect a fight-or-flight-type response after a verbal barb, not a skillful navigator who grabs those conversational reigns right out of their hands. For example, if someone attacks you about a mistake you may have made in the past, a confident person might say, “look how well things turned out for me though.”
Strategy 5: Be the Better Person
Not engaging in a verbal attack is the best method if you are able to disengage your emotions from their opinion. There is no better defense than not caring what the other person thinks or says. If you don’t play the victim, and don’t sink to their level, they will likely feel a sense of shame in front of their peers or coworkers. Lastly, in these situations, it will always serve you well to remember the wise old phrase, “All cruelty springs from weakness.”