How To Defend Yourself In Unexpected Verbal Confrontations
What do you do when someone calls you out or says something cruel or rude to you? Are you able to verbally defend yourself or do you freeze and get stuck?
Is your mind able to come up with something to say?
Are you able to defend your position or are you unable to speak or react at that critical moment?
I can still clearly remember the days when I was completely unable to organize my thoughts and properly defend myself in unexpected verbal confrontations. When I was attacked, so to speak, I froze. There was a sudden rush of adrenaline through my body and I experienced the fight-flight-freeze response. And in this case of course it was a freeze response.
I just looked in surprise and tried to come up with something to say but I couldn’t.
And once the “attack” was over and that person left the room I began thinking and analyzing what had just happened. I was able to come up with at least one or two very good defenses that I was unable to come up with before.
And things like that really irritated me a lot. Not only was I verbally attacked and unable to defend myself at the time, I also beat myself up afterwards for not being able to respond.
If you also find it hard to find the right words when you get called out or when someone says something cruel or rude to you, then I might have just the right solution for you.
Something that I‘ve found effective is to ask the other person for clarifications.
You can say, “I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. Can you explain exactly what you mean?”
If that person deliberately insulted you or said something just to hurt you, asking them this puts them on the spot instead of you. The focus goes back on them. It’s very likely that they will back off from whatever they said. And it’s even more likely that this will happen if there are other people around. So they will probably think twice before attacking you again.
Now, on the other hand, if that person didn’t really intentionally hurt you, asking for clarification won’t really upset them. They will just repeat what they said but in different words.
And you’ll get more time to calm down, think about what they’ve just said and respond properly.