Being Pushed? |
Verbal Self Defense, A mental art emphasizing internal
development is to defuse, disarm, or deflect someone’s
Are You Being Teased?
Beat Verbal Bullies to the Punch . . . Line
By Sam Horn,
author of Take the Bully by the Horns
"Perhaps one has to
become very old before one learns how to be amused rather than
Pearl S. Buck
Why wait until we're old to learn how to be amused
rather than offended? Why not learn
Humor is a time-tested
way to playfully block difficult people from having their way with us.
Verbal bullies push, push, push to see what we're made of. If we're able
to successfully parry their verbal jabs, they'll usually leave us alone
because they know we're up to their test.
An attorney who is a
consulting client is a perfect practitioner of this concept. Victoria
said, "I got tired of all the lawyer jokes. I know some people have had
unsatisfying experiences at the hands of the legal system; however, it
gets on your nerves hearing for the umpteenth time, ‘How do you know
when a lawyer is lying? When her lips are moving.’
A colleague finally
told me that being made fun of comes with the attorney territory, and I
better develop a thick-skin or this was going to drive me nuts. That was
good advice. Now, I collect lawyer jokes and post the best ones on a
bulletin board in my office. If
someone starts in with, "Hey, have you heard the one about . . .
" instead of inwardly groaning, I add my two cents (two hundred
dollars?) worth. One of my favorites is, ‘Why don't sharks attack
lawyers? Professional courtesy.’”
Lighten Up Instead of Tighten Up
"No one becomes a
laughingstock who laughs at himself." -
Another example of
someone who wisely decided to lighten up instead of tighten up is Joseph
Heller. He said, "When I read something saying I've not written anything
as good as Catch-22, I'm tempted to reply, 'Who has?"
Good for Heller.
Heller's Catch-22 was a masterpiece that generated a phrase that
became an iconic catchphrase of our time and a symbol of bureaucratic
ineffectiveness. Only a handful of authors have achieved that type of
enduring impact on popular culture. Whether he liked it or not, his
follow-up books would all be compared (probably unfavorably) to this
once-in-a-lifetime novel. It was smart of him to anticipate this public
reaction and handle it with aplomb rather than affront.
You Can't Beat 'Em, Join In
"Blessed are they
who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused." -
A man named Art who
was going bald said he agreed with that attorney’s decision to not take
herself so seriously. He explained, "I started losing my hair when I was
only thirty-five years old. I went the 'rug' route and should have taken
out stock in Rogaine. After about five years of sinking thousands of
dollars into hair plugs and everything else on the market, I realized I
was fighting a losing battle (so to
speak) and decided I might as well learn to live with and laugh at my
baldness. If someone tries to make a joke at my expense, I come right
back at 'em with a joke of my own like, "I'm not losing my hair, I'm
gaining face." Sometimes I say, "I'm not bald, I'm a man of scalp." or
"I'm not bald, I'm a hair donor." Once people realize I'm not
self-conscious about it, it takes the fun out of it for them and they
usually drop it."
Art had a good point. When teasers discover their
goads don't get our goat, they go elsewhere.
Their goal is to make us feel embarrassed. If we're not bothered by
their verbal arrows, they'll stop slinging them because they're
Quip Pro Quo
humor never fails to abuse me.” - line from The Lion King
A lot of books tell
you to "use humor" to defuse verbal grenades, they just don't tell you
What exactly are we
supposed to say when bullies zero in on our emotional sore spots? How
can we keep the cat from getting our tongue? I wanted to put my "funny"
where my mouth is, so I've provided a variety of Quip Pro Quo's (wise
cracks) that showcase how you can take the sting out of some common
verbal taunts. Next time someone tries to tease you, you’ll be able to
come up with a comeback that neutralizes their attempt to get the best
"Why did you get a divorce?" "Let's just put it this way. We had five
years of happy marriage; but we were married for fifteen." - Bob Thomas
"Why isn't a cute young thing like you married?” "I think, therefore
I'm single." - Liz Winstead
"How old are you anyway?"
"Let's just say my back goes out more than I do." - Phyllis Diller
"Why don't you work out?"
"I'm pushing 60; that's enough exercise for me." - Mark Twain
"What's your degree in?" "I have a ND - No Degree!" "Well, I pursued my
Berkeley, but I never caught it."
"Wow, you've really packed on the pounds." "I resemble that remark." -
"You know what you should have done?"
"When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." - Madonna
"Are you having a baby?" (and you're not pregnant)
"Yea, I'm having twins. I'm naming them Ben & Jerry." - Rosie O'Donnell
"Are you getting senile or something?" "No, I'm suffering from déjà vu
amnesia. I think I've forgotten this before." - Roseanne Barr
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This article is
excerpted from Sam Horn’s book Take the Bully by the Horns,
which was praised by Dave Pelzer (A Child Called “It”) as, “The
perfect guide on how to avoid negative confrontations and face those who
intimidate and manipulate you – without sacrificing your integrity.”
For more tips on how to deal with teasers and bullies, visit
Copyright, Sam Horn, 2010. All rights reserved.