Have you ever wonder if there was anything you could do to stop a verbal attack or diffuse a tense situation? I’ll share six actions you can take in today’s episode of Self-Care Hacks.
Is there Anything YOU Can Do to Stop a Verbal Attack?
“Where’s Mr. Ojeda?” Jennifer, a second-grade girl, asked me.
“He’s in a meeting,” I told her. She wandered away but came back a few minutes later.
“Is Mr. Ojeda here?”
“Not yet,” I told her. “What did you need?”
“Can you tell him Penny coughed in my face!”
I tried not to laugh. There’s a reason I don’t teach elementary school. “Oh.” I said. “Did she do it on purpose?”
“Yes. She coughed in my face on purpose.”
“What did you say to her?”
“I told her it makes me sad when she coughs in my face.”
“It sounds like you did the right thing,” I assured her, hoping the tattling incident was resolved. It wasn’t.
“But she did it on purpose!” Jennifer said.
“Does she have COVID?”
Jennifer shook her head.
“Then what does it really matter?”
She looked at me, startled, then walked away.
An Approach I Never Considered
Later, when Pedro had his meal and sat beside me, Jennifer returned.
“Mr. Ojeda, Rachel stepped on my foot in line.”
“That must have hurt,” Pedro said.
“It really hurt,” Jennifer agreed. “She did it on purpose.”
“Here’s what I want you to do the next time Rachel steps on your foot. I want you to turn to her and say, ‘I love you.’ Then, walk away.”
Jennifer looked skeptical.
“Can you do that?” Pedro asked.
“I guess.” Jennifer shrugged and walked off.
What would happen if we all took Pedro’s advice when someone offended us? We have the example of a man on the cross for how to treat those who revile and hate us.
But when we witness someone else under a verbal attack, what actions can we take? We don’t have to stand helplessly by. We CAN take action to show our ‘I love you’ to the person under attack. Bullies flourish when no one stands up to them.
This episode covers what to do with random verbal attacks or racial slurs you might witness. Domestic violence is a different story. Never be afraid to dial 9-1-1. I did so immediately when I felt isolated (jogging on a country road) and saw verbal assault (a woman walking on the other side of the road and a man harassing her with his pickup and his words).
You can find more tips on stopping a racist attack here.
Psychology Today has a great article on the bystander effect.
The Christian’s response to racism.
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