“We should try to avoid saying harsh words to loved ones and colleagues as they can leave scars on the mind. If necessary, be firm but polite. When seniors in office or elders speak rudely, we should try to stay silent or politely express our point of view. Ahimsa or non-violence means not injuring others in thought, word or deed.” – Pankaj Kumar
How many times have we heard, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Humbug! In truth, hurtful words can cause profound emotional harm. Recent research shows that people who were verbally abused as children grow up to be self-critical adults prone to depression and anxiety. Other people’s words have an incredible power to affect how we see and feel about ourselves. While positive words of encouragement can uplift and inspire us, negative words cut to the core and resonate over and over again.
To help people become happy, treat them the way you’d like to be treated yourself. Talk nicely. Don’t be mean. Sounds simple, but those are some of the most important things you can do.
Verbal abuse includes insults, swearing, threats of physical abuse and spiteful comments or behaviour. People may have learned this from their own parents or peers. But it is more likely they are simply not aware of positive ways to motivate. Verbal abuse is often overlooked and difficult to identify. Culturally, we don’t take the consequences seriously because the scars are not immediately visible and the victims are often so used to being treated in a certain manner that they do not seek help.
Over time, people begin to believe the negative things they hear about themselves and start to use those negative statements as explanations for everything that goes wrong. A pattern of self-criticism and negative thinking follows. In many cases, verbal aggression by people leads to physical aggression by the victims. The consequences of verbal abuse should not be underestimated. Physical abuse may leave actual scars but verbal abuse leaves invisible scars. The impact of verbal abuse on vulnerable, developing regions of the brain can have damaging effects that last a lifetime.
So why do people choose to abuse others? It’s all about power and control. In every healthy relationship, partners will try to build each other’s confidence. But emotionally controlling behaviour undermines their partner’s sense of self. The victims start to believe that they cannot cope, leading to become more dependent on the abuser.
A quick checklist can determine if you have someone who might be an abuser. More importantly, it can point to changes which you can make to avoid becoming one.
- Use words and attitudes to disrespect others?
- Persistently demand and retain control?
- Humiliate, criticize or shout?
- Treat others so badly that they are embarrassed amongst their peers?
- Ignore or put down others’ opinions or accomplishments?
- Blame others for their own abusive behaviour?
- See others as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
- Treat others as though they are inferior?
People should avoid yelling, demeaning, or otherwise acting in ways that erode confidence in their children, family, friends, colleagues. “Being a good parent is probably one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and one of the most important,” Dr. Sachs-Ericsson says. “A good childhood can last a lifetime.” Dealing with verbal abuse is simple. But it needs loads of patience and self-esteem.
- Focus on positive attributes and actions. Convey your support and approval for them.
- Smile and compliment them. Kill them with kindness! Keep your cool, then smile, and say something very nice in return to their comments.
- In case of misdemeanours or mistakes, make it clear the behaviour is bad, but don’t deride or put down.
- Whatever you do, don’t lose your temper! As feelings escalate, things might just spiral out of control before you even realize it. Keep your cool, and remember you can always let off steam at a convenient time later.
- Be firm, yet polite. Be very clear about your requests and statements. Smile, and be polite, but stand firm. Then, follow through with your actions.
- Read books and talk to other people to learn more effective man management skills.
- Find support for yourself so you can better deal with the stress.
“Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They’re underused.” ~ Tommy Lee Jones