Verbal Self Defence

Trying not to have a confrontation in the first place is best, but this is not always possible. Awareness and avoidance is key to keeping you in-tune with your surroundings so you can deal with potential threats. What if they aren’t enough and you still find yourself in harm’s way?

The Fence

Running is always the best choice. But not all situations lend themselves very well for running, such as toilets, lifts, stairwells etc. Along with use of the ‘Fence’ (see right), you have another very powerful weapon that can help you walk away unscathed, your voice, or verbal self defence.

De-escalation involves using your voice to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from becoming a physical confrontation that could result in injury. Ways to do that can include simply listening, distracting the other person, re-focusing the other person on something positive, changing the subject, empathising with the other person or outlining choices.

Since about 80% to 90% of our communication is non-verbal, it’s important to make sure our words are in tune with our body language.

Examples of things to avoid:

  • Finger pointing may be seen as threatening
  • Shoulder shrugging may be viewed as uncaring
  • Rigid walking, pacing or pumping up the chest may be seen as challenging
  • Speaking through clenched teeth shows non-willingness to listen to another side of the story.
  • Quick movements – which many make when they are nervous, may unintentionally startle or scare others
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