Minding your language
IF YOU ARE GUILTY OF VERBAL ABUSE, READ ON TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN COMMUNICATE BETTER
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:
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.