A Sample Verbal Self-Defense Tactic

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A Sample Verbal Self-Defense Tactic

Post by Dreamweaver » 14 Jan 2018, 22:16

A Sample Verbal Self-Defense Tactic

Let's close this lesson by looking at a very simple, but very effective, verbal self-defense tactic, so that you can see what the term means. Let's say that your attacker is Bill, a man who works where you work, and he comes at you with that line about eating junk food. He expects you to take his bait and come roaring back at him, so that he can tie you up for fifteen minutes in a stupid argument. He expects something like this dialogue:

Bill: "WHY do you eat SO MUCH JUNK food?"
You: "What do you mean by THAT? I don't eat any more junk food than anybody ELSE around here!"

Bill: "Oh, YEAH? What about that DOUGHnut I saw you eating this morning? You call that HEALTH FOOD?"

You: "Listen, what I eat is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!"

Bill: "Pretty touchy, aren't you? I'd be touchy, too, if I kept stuffing my face with pizza and candy bars and FRENCH fries all day long every day, the way YOU do!"

You: "Now WAIT a minute! YOU--"(And so on.)

Don't give Bill that satisfaction. Instead, do it this way:

Bill: "WHY do you eat SO MUCH JUNK food?"
You: "I think it's because of something that happened to me when I was just a little kid. We were living in Detroit at the time, and... No, wait a minute. It couldn't have been Detroit, it must have been when we were living in Indianapolis. Because that was the summer that my Aunt Grace came to visit us and she brought her dog...."

You see how that works? It's called "The Boring Baroque Response," and it is one of the most useful all-purpose verbal self-defense moves. The metamessage it delivers -- the message behind the actual words you say -- goes like this:

"I understand that you want my attention, and that your plan is for me to spend the next fifteen minutes in a stupid argument with you. I won't play that game, but I won't just abandon you. I'll give you some attention, since that's what you're after -- but it won't be any fun. It will be horribly, excruciatingly, boring."
If you do this right -- which means that you do it neutrally, without being sarcastic, or setting your words to any other hostile tunes -- most verbal attackers will give up and go away before you get very far into a Boring Baroque Response. They may say, "Oh, FORGET it! Never MIND! SHEEESH!" as they go; that's okay. What matters is for them to go on their way instead of wasting your time and energy. And if every attempt they make to attack you verbally gets a Boring Baroque Response, they will soon learn that you are absolutely not going to be their verbal violence partner and they'll give up.

The Boring Baroque Response isn't right for every situation. If your boss comes at you with "WHY are YOU LATE every single morning? WHY can't you get here on TIME once in a while?", answering with a BBR is only going to make matters worse. But there are many attacks for which it is the perfect move. It's a good first tactic to learn.
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