b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: Verbal Self-Defense



Verbal Self-Defense

You’ve heard me blab on about my Idiot Boss and even told you some stories about my interactions with her. It’s important however, to expose this behavior for what it is: Abusive.

Abusive behavior in the workplace can take many forms. It can be outright physically violent and threatening, or it can be more subtle in the form of overly critical statements and negative comments about work performance or character traits.

Let’s look at verbal abuse: What is it? It is language that:



It attacks on the personal level – not on the issue.

Are you being verbally attacked? If you step out of a meeting with your boss/co-worker and feel that you’ve been zinged, chances are you have been.

Watch for these signs:
Does your boss/co-worker cut you down at every opportunity whether in public or private?
Do you get baited?
Are your best efforts met with destructive criticism?

Whether founded or unfounded, verbal abuse is counter-productive!

If you’re being verbally attacked be careful:

Respond – do not react
Avoid “negative” language
Find the positives
Be alert and

It’s important not to go off on a tangent – or allow the abuser to do so. It will be easier to cut that individual off or debunk their “argument” if you refuse to go on their little trip.

Be cool:
BREATHE: You cannot be responsible for abusive individuals or the things that they will do or say. But you are in charge of your own reaction. Do not allow them to derail you.

Call a time-out for yourself: Sometimes things seem clearer once the dust settles.

Reconvene the meeting with the abusive individual if that’s possible.

Again – STICK to the issue!

It’s also important to remember that you are not at fault and you’re not crazy. I have gone through this and believe me, I know how ugly this can be.

Try to hang in there.

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