When and HOW to walk away from verbal conflict.
Verbal conflict is one of the worse kinds of psychological warfare. In 1982, the late Michael Jackson told us to Just beat it when tempted to knuckle up. I’m sure most or all of you remember the nursery rhyme sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This classic saying was designed to influence young people to take the high road when lured into conflict. If the latter part of this adage held true for everyone, I strongly believe the world would be a much better place.
I was always taught to walk away if a woman ever provoked me to lose my cool. Whenever a man becomes known as a batterer, his reputation may never recover from such an incident. All it takes is one time and he’s branded for life. I’ve never hit a woman, nor do I plan on it unless I’m forced to defend myself.
Over the years, there have been a couple of women who have punched my buttons, but I didn’t embed myself in oral combat. Instead, I chose to walk away from the verbal conflict that could have morphed into an uncontrollable flame of fire. In those trying moments, I was very pissed. But thankfully my innate voice of reason & invisible scale of judgment empowered me to do the right thing. In short, my reputation, freedom, livelihood, and future are worth more than a single discharge of physical retaliation.
Verbal Ankle Biters
No matter how angry we may become, or how strongly we are provoked to strike back, sometimes it is best to just WALK AWAY. Occasionally retaliation doesn’t come in the form of blows, but menacing words. Throughout the first quarter of my life, I was told by several people that I always sought to have the last word – those people were right.
And when we find ourselves entangled in a war of words, we, too seek to have the last word. Our mouths become the swords used to out jostle our opponent. But as I moved closer to my 30’s, wisdom attained through age and experience empowered me to shut up. No one likes to look weak or endure humiliation, so we continue to push forward with an onslaught of verbal assaults. Our objective during these petty feuds is to verbally slay our enemy and stand as the victor.
But is it worth it to fall prey to those verbal ankle biters? Should we fight with passion and precision when involved in a verbal conflict? Absolutely not. As the modern day saying goes Don’t sweat the small stuff.
The Voice of Reason
Let’s think about the energy expended on such meaningless battles. What is there to gain? Sure, whether physical or psychological, it feels good to whoop the ass of anyone who asks for it. But in actuality, you gain nothing but a temporary feel good moment without intrinsic value. Candidates in the race for electoral office, board members or attorneys are people who are prone to engage in verbal onslaughts. However, these men and women are fighting for SOMETHING WORTHWHILE.
We must also remember that, in those trying moments, verbal conflict is at times the impetus for situations turned fatal. Raod rage, as many of you should know, is a growing issue. According to Brandon Gaille, aggressive driving accounts for 2 out of every 3 traffic fatalities that occur. Is it worth it to lose your life because of verbal conflict? Is it worth it to find yourself in the hospital because you didn’t want to look weak? What about jail? Could you justify a stint behind bars because you wanted to “prove” your point to someone who doesn’t have the intellectual fortitude that God gave a single droplet of urine? I didn’t think so.
On the eve of verbal conflict: knowing WHEN to HOW to walk away
As you and the opposing party disagree on whatever, particularly after 2 or more rounds of disagreeing, walk away. If discourse becomes contentious, heated and non-amicable, WALK AWAY. In fact, ask yourself this question: why spar for two or more rounds when neither of you is willing to convert to each other’s lore? It’s OK to disagree, though not OK to continually disagree. Remember, if there is no prize for winning a debate, you shouldn’t entrench yourself into the madness.
I know that walking is the hardest thing to do, particularly when someone has pressed the right buttons, or worse, having done so in front of others. However, think about my experiences in using both my voice of reason and scale of judgment. Take the preemptive approach and evaluate the situation at hand. If your quick analysis predicts ZERO return on time and energy invested in verbal conflict, then walk away. It’s that simple. Per the words of Isaac Slade of The Fray, “sometimes doing the HARD thing and the RIGHT thing is the same.”
Keep on shining, everybody,