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  Are You Being Teased?  

Being Pushed? | Verbal Self Defense, A mental art emphasizing internal development is to defuse, disarm, or deflect someone’s psychological attack


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

offended." - Pearl S. Buck

Why wait until we're old to learn how to be amused rather than offended? Why not learn now?

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." - Seneca

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.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join In

"Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused." - Anonymous

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 pointless.

Quip Pro Quo

"Your 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 how.

 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 of you.

Divorce: "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

Single: "Why isn't a cute young thing like you married?”  "I think, therefore I'm single." - Liz Winstead

Age: "How old are you anyway?"

"Let's just say my back goes out more than I do." - Phyllis Diller

Fitness: "Why don't you work out?"

"I'm pushing 60; that's enough exercise for me." - Mark Twain

Education: "What's your degree in?" "I have a ND - No Degree!" "Well, I pursued my degree at Berkeley, but I never caught it."

Weight: "Wow, you've really packed on the pounds." "I resemble that remark." - Groucho Marx

Unsolicited Advice: "You know what you should have done?" "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." - Madonna

Pregnant: "Are you having a baby?" (and you're not pregnant)

"Yea, I'm having twins. I'm naming them Ben & Jerry." - Rosie O'Donnell

Bad memory: "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 http://www.SamHorn.com. Copyright, Sam Horn, 2010.  All rights reserved.