Just like blocking a punch or kick in a physical altercation can prevent injury, so too can having blocks against hurtful words. We call these “word blocks,” and they are an important tool in managing verbal bullying.

Also just like blocking a physical attack, you must learn to use word blocks reflexively and immediately, without any trace of emotion. The goal of these word blocks is to stop a verbal attack by showing that you are listening to the other person’s concerns and initiate a redirection.

Some examples of word blocks are:

  • “I hear what you’re saying and I’m listening, but…”
  • “It seems that way and I agree it’s difficult, however…”

Using these simple word blocks can help take the heat off of you and give you the opportunity to steer the interaction into a more useful direction where the two parties might be able to come to some sort of mutual understanding.

Next time you find yourself in an argument, try using a word block to stop it and shift the focus of the conversation to a more constructive place.