Mind­ing your lan­guage


The Gulf Today - Panorama - - CONTENTS - By Judi Light Hop­son, Emma H. Hop­son and Ted Ha­gen

Do you use your ver­bal skills to hurt other peo­ple? Maybe you don’t do name-call­ing or at­tack the char­ac­ter of an­other, but do you take ver­bal jabs?

It’s likely that ev­ery per­son over the age of

6 is a sus­pect for ver­bal abuse. But, putting this in the “I will change this” cat­e­gory can save your san­ity.

Why? You’ll avoid a lot of ten­sion. Other peo­ple will re­late to you, ac­cord­ing to how you make them feel. Your words can pack a hurt­ful punch that you can’t re­tract in a life­time.

For ex­am­ple, we all know mar­ried cou­ples who’ve spo­ken too much pain to each other. By hear­ing their ver­bal slams, we sus­pect a di­vorce is com­ing.

Here are ways to com­mu­ni­cate without ver­bal abuse:

Chang­ing words

State your pain by us­ing “I” state­ments. Say, “I feel used when you drop your chil­dren off at my house without call­ing first.” Don’t say, “Do you know what a knuck­le­head you are? You’re a thought­less per­son!”

For­get the past

Keep the past out of your com­plaints. Don’t say, “You’ve done this crap to me a thou­sand times.” Do say, “I’m ask­ing you to do things dif­fer­ently from this point for­ward.”

Pay at­ten­tion to the prob­lem

Fo­cus on the sit­u­a­tion, not jump­ing an in­di­vid­ual. For ex­am­ple, say: “This bud­get isn’t work­ing for our fam­ily, but I’ll bet we can fix it.” Don’t say: “If you could add and sub­tract, we wouldn’t be in this fi­nan­cial mess!”

A woman we’ll call Mar­garet re­cently con­fessed to us that she is a ver­bal abuser.

“I’ve vowed to change, though,” Mar­garet pointed out. “I al­most made my hus­band cry in front of our chil­dren.”

She ex­plained that her 12-year-old daugh­ter videoed her tirade.

“I was yelling at my hus­band about not help­ing with the dishes,” Mar­garet ex­plained. “What I didn’t take into ac­count was that he’d just spent four hours clean­ing out the gut­ters. Also, I’d promised him I’d call the dish­washer re­pair per­son, but I for­got. I didn’t want to ad­mit this, so I took all my frus­tra­tion out on him.”

Dig­ging and cut­ting into other peo­ple ver­bally is a sign that some­thing is wrong in­side of us. We’ve lost con­trol over our in­ter­nal har­mony. When we slam and hurt oth­ers, it’s to re­lieve the pres­sure we’ve been feel­ing over a pe­riod of time.

All of us project onto oth­ers what we feel about our­selves. That’s why in­ter­nal heal­ing is nec­es­sary to fix the ten­dency to abuse those around us ver­bally.

“I’ve been work­ing at fix­ing the pres­sure­cooker feel­ings I’ve swal­lowed all my life,” says a woman we’ll call Jan­ice. “My father abused me, my first hus­band abused me, and I’m still hurt­ing. Lately, I’ve be­gun writ­ing down my feel­ings in a note­book, which I hide in my lock­box. Just get­ting my thoughts down on pa­per helps me dif­fuse. At some point, I’ll burn the note­book.”

We ad­vised Mar­garet to start tak­ing ex­cel­lent care of her­self. When you’re ex­er­cis­ing, eat­ing right and spend­ing time do­ing things you en­joy, you won’t feel as an­gry.

Re­act­ing to oth­ers dif­fer­ently helps, too. For ex­am­ple, learn to at­tack a prob­lem in­stead of blam­ing and hurt­ing an in­di­vid­ual. Fig­ure out what’s re­ally out of kil­ter.

“I was an­gry all the time at work,” says a man we’ll call Jack. “When I went to the boss and helped him tweak our sched­ule, things in­side me be­gan to calm down. I was voic­ing a lot of hurt to my co-work­ers, but the prob­lem was that we were all ex­hausted from over­work.”

When we slam and hurt oth­ers, it is to re­lieve the pres­sure we have been feel­ing over a pe­riod of time.

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