Friday, July 16, 2010

The confusing gentle art of verbal self-defense

I always try to work on a few personal goals during the summer months when I have a bit more time. This month, I took a driving lesson to improve my already superb skills and ordered the book, How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable: Getting Your Point Across with the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense to help me with my conversational skills.

I tend to get pretty angry and heated during political discussions and thought this book might help to channel that anger into something more constructive. I realize I am not going to change people's minds in a one-on-one discussion, but thought I would look into what else I could do besides just get mad, like become a better debater. The book I mentioned is written by Suzette Haden Elgin, PhD who is a linguist and the author of a series of books on the gentle art of self defense.

Instead of straight talk about how to make my points more accurately in speaking, I found the book confusing. Elgin initially speaks in the book about hostile language and if and how it can lead to violence. She seems to think that it does and should be abolished. Later in the book, she seems to say that verbal violence should be a last resort, not a first one. I found the book confusing.

As an aside, I must add that I disagree that hostile language should be abolished. Once you start putting limits on what people can say, you limit their freedom in ways that can actually lead to more violence, it just dwells underground--or like in Communist countries, leads to restrictions on citizens. And it leads to a society where everyone is scared to speak, which to me, is worse than random violence once in a while.

She gives tips and examples of how to look at different verbal disagreements and to use techniques, which again seem confusing to diffuse various situations. Initially, she says that men and women are not different when it comes to language, but later says that the majority of American males operate on the metaphor "LIFE IS A FOOTBALL" while the majority of American women use the metaphor "LIFE IS A TRADITIONAL SCHOOLROOM." Apparently, men say stuff that might seem like a lie but is fine if used on the football field, like pretending you have the ball when you don't etc. And women see telling lies or other exaggerations as a lie that warrants punishment.

I'm now more confused than ever about how to handle hostile verbal interactions after reading this book.

Any suggestions for a good book on how to handle political or hot topic arguments?

Labels:

45 Comments:

Blogger RightGirl said...

Hee hee. How about Ann Coulter's How to Talk to a Liberal?

RG

7:34 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Bill said...

The Bible

7:39 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Ern said...

the majority of American women use the metaphor "LIFE IS A TRADITIONAL SCHOOLROOM"

That statement would be correct if it ended with "and they are the teachers."

8:12 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Brett said...

Can't offer suggestions for better material, but I do agree with your disagreement. It sounds to me like she's one step away from saying you can't criticize people. You might hurt their feelings afterall, and that could lead to violence.

It seems to me, we'd be better off teaching people how to handle hurtful language without resorting to violence (as well as the concept of controlled violence when violence /is/ called for).

It seems to me that hostile language is sometimes called for. When a person gets out of bounds, breaks rules, mistreats others, at least nominally hostile language /is/ appropriate.

Ah well.... what do you do? Too many people think like this. Probably best to stockpile canned goods and ammunition. ;)

- Brett

8:27 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

There is only one book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. You'll find a whole chapter devoted to how to handle hostile people. I read it cover to cover every 5 years. Hundreds of millions of readers can't be wrong.

No, I don't think hostile language should be abolished. When one becomes hostile, uses name-calling, threats and personal accusations, and starts pointing their finger I know I've won because my opponent is out of talking points.

If one becomes hostile during a conversation it might feel good for about a minute, but do that in a work environment and your career can go down the tubes real fast. Do it during a community meeting and you will grow a reputation that you don't want. Do it in your personal life and you will find yourself either out of friends or attracting the wrong friends. There are plenty of ways to state your position with out becoming verbally abusive and hostile.

(Side note: Perhaps I am very grateful for having a mother that is deep in the realm of crazy. Dealing with her forced me at an early age to get help and think very carefully about what I say and how I say it. Sadly, I see too many people that are still confused late in life on how to best get their point across.)

8:39 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

"Apparently, men say stuff that might seem like a lie but is fine if used on the football field, like pretending you have the ball when you don't etc. And women see telling lies or other exaggerations as a lie that warrants punishment."

WTF? Sure, because women _never_ lie or exaggerate in argument or discussion. This is such silly gender stereotyping.

Maybe I'm being short though.
The classroom analogy sounds spot on, though - an environment with Kafkaesque rules where the person (teacher) in charge is unquestioned by the group even if s/he's an idiot, and doesn't react well to authority challenges.

And the football analogy might be spot-on if she's talking about the overt sportsmanship of the game, where guys are expected to respect their opponents win or lose and not hold grudges because they got beat.

Sounds like she is pretty transparently selling the idea that the world would be a better place if only women were in charge. Did Sally Field write the forward to this book?

Since I'm a football coach, I'll counter with some REAL football principles...we work hard to teach our players (kids, remember) that if they make a mistake, they are going to be corrected. They should own up to the mistake so they can fix it and earn the respect of their teammates, and then we are going to move on. There will be no passive-aggressive mistrust of the player (although we will not ask a player to do something he can't do) and under no circumstances will we allow players to cut each other down.

Many, many kids don't grow up in an environment with these kind of true forgiving values. Boys especially grow up in an environment where their learning and communication styles are denigrated in favor of the feminine, so they never can tell if they are in trouble, whether they've been absolved, what to do to make the teacher happy, etc. Many teachers harbor a standing resentment of cantakerous boys vis a vis angelic sit-still-and-pay-attention girls. This has been discussed ad nauseum on boards like this.

8:51 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

"It seems to me that hostile language is sometimes called for. When a person gets out of bounds, breaks rules, mistreats others, at least nominally hostile language /is/ appropriate."

One of my disagreements with the "don't be rude" people is that their admonition always includes those trying to stop other people from rudeness.

It's a replay of a frequent meme we see in gun control, domestic violence law, etc etc, that real sociopaths and jerks go free while reasonable people are ensnared and shamed within labyrinthine laws or social structures.

This happens a lot in my life for whatever reason...someone is being a total jerk and given a wide berth. I call them out in public, and I'm shushed for "being rude" after they've let Mr(s) Jerry Jerkoff dump all over the party. I guess I have a lower threshold for complaint than most.

A few weeks back my girl's friend was making some mocking sounds about somebody's hobby. As something of a geek myself, I can't stand flip dismissal of other people's interests. Very sorority-girl. So I asked her what her hobbies were and proceeded to dish it back. She got up and left and texted my girl "you deserve better." What a bunch of nonsense. I called to apologize for getting too heated (I went further than was appropriate), left a message to that effect, and never heard back an acceptance of the apology. Nice.

It's simple inertia...if you sit around and let people be a-holes, they'll continue to be a-holes.

9:05 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

One other thing...this is an issue where the balance of gender ways is important.

If your environment (work, school, whatever) is too slanted to the feminine, you'll have passive-aggressive behavior, the observance of unspoken rules, deference to power and status and an undue focus on feelings ahead of performance.

If your environment is too masculine, you'll have constant (as the PUAs would say) sh**-testing and displays of manhood, lack of respect for one's feelings, too much performance pressure and constant exchanges of authority as people try to grab power.

9:10 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

Topher, you got yourself into an apology situation by dishing what was given right back. That gave this woman ammunition, of course she was going to point out your bad behavior with out acknowledging her own. If you had handled this slightly differently you could have gained the upper hand. I would have asked her to explain further what the specific problem with the hobby she didn't like, and then asked whether her hobbies are any less geeky. By forcing her to explain herself she would have dug herself a verbal hole on her own.

9:11 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

Cham,

I appreciate the commentary. That's pretty much what I did, asking her to describe what was so bad and defend her interests as any more worthy. But I did give her a taste of her own snarling dismissiveness. That's exactly my point with the apology - once I had legitimately overstepped, I acknowledged that and moved on. She couldn't be bothered to do the same, with her behavior or mine. If she wants to take offense at me calling her on her BS and can't look in the mirror, I'm afraid I'm not concerned with the upper or lower hand.

What's really funny is that she then called two of my lady's siblings to complain about me, and they both took my side. It appears I'm not the first person to notice this behavior.

9:23 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

"If you had handled this slightly differently you could have gained the upper hand. I would have asked her to explain further what the specific problem with the hobby she didn't like, and then asked whether her hobbies are any less geeky."

----

I don't think it would matter, because the situation is basically this: If you irritate or piss off an immature sorority-type girl like that, she will do backstabbing, passive aggressive things to get you back.

Period.

That's what she did with his original actions (telling his girlfriend she deserves better) and that's what she would do if he irritated her in a different way.

What you do with snotty, immature girls is ... stay away from them.

------------

In general:

I still like to poke at people and argue on the Internet, but I have learned in real life that it's far better just not to talk about religion or politics or the like unless it is with someone you like to discuss these things with (i.e. you get new insights or get a different view of things).

I don't try to convince anyone of anything in real life, especially religious fundamentalists or naive-about-the-world far left-wingers or chivalrous, highly intolerant conservatives.

I was a staunch conservative republican when I was in my 20s and used to argue those points up to a near aneurysm. Now I'm far less sure of what reality is, and I listen in real life (at least to people who know something) more than I harangue.

9:26 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

My brother-in-law is a hard-core Catholic, and I'm ... not ... but I still like talking to him about it because he is a fair person. He LISTENS to what I say and tries to give his best viewpoint on it. I LISTEN to what he says, and am not a jerk to him just because I believe differently.

Those are productive conversations.

If you find that you are getting mad at someone, it's an unproductive conversation. Why engage in it?

9:31 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

JG,

Yes - I find that my agreement with someone is uncorrelated to our agreeableness. I have friends I don't agree with and we have a great time talking about it, and I have fellow travelers I can't stand (not many, because I have a low threshold for people I don't enjoy being around. Not worth it; life's too short.)

9:40 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Doom said...

Nice goal. I would be interested to hear how it works out. Seriously, I am curious if you can quell that anger. I don't have it with conversations. I could probably, if he were still alive and spoke English, speak with Stalin and do fine. If I thought killing him would spare some... but I would be nice about it. No reason to get touchy feely or sensisnotty while killing. That leads to high blood pressure!

My problem is automobile anger. I'm not a rager... more a grumper. I really would like to tend that, for many reasons. As much for a more relaxed life as anything though.

You ought to do an update on that, after your dig in and with some practice. Uhrm, by the way... I can almost imagine you coming unglued. Hmmm. Good luck with your goal.

9:44 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Bill said...

I'm the opposite -
I don't enjoy debating my friends at all. I've got three friends that are so liberal it's scary. One is the local union chapter president. We have all come to a tacit agreement that we talk about Other Things.

Bill

9:48 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Larry J said...

As an aside, I must add that I disagree that hostile language should be abolished. Once you start putting limits on what people can say, you limit their freedom in ways that can actually lead to more violence, it just dwells underground--or like in Communist countries, leads to restrictions on citizens. And it leads to a society where everyone is scared to speak, which to me, is worse than random violence once in a while.

This is just the latest attempt to implement Orwell's Newspeak. By banning hostile language, you give those doing the banning control over the language. How precisely do they define the word "hostile?" Is it speech threatening violence (which is already against the law) or in this increasing PC world is hostile speech anything that could possibly make someone feel bad. Orwell knew that the power to control language is the power to control people's very thoughts.

Thoughtcrime - double plus ungood.

9:52 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Eric said...

I'd recommend watching some old video of Milton Friedman debating liberals. You can find plenty of this stuff on youtube. Friedman has long been a role model to me when it comes to political discourse. You could see him get frustrated at times, but he always calmly reasoned with the people he was debating, and while he didn't often change people's minds (who does?), he DID often leave them silent with no arguments to throw back at him.

The other thing I always find helpful is to remember in political debates that you are arguing about ideas and not about people. Reading back through many of the letters of the Founding Fathers, you can see how they worked much harder than we do today at seperating the personal from the philosophical (they weren't always succesful, but they tried harder, and it added to the quality of their discourse).

Two rules of thumb I always try to remember: 1) Arguing about religion is usually a waste of time, and arguing politics with people for whom politics IS their religion is equally a waste of time. 2) Never waste your time arguing politics with a person who doesn't vote. That's like buying tires for a car with no engine.

10:09 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I find that women lie as much or more than men. On the football field, men fight it out under set rules. Guys that violate those rules consistently quickly get bad reputations as dirty players and such. They play hard and they play tough. At the end of the game they shake hands, say, "Good game" and walk away friends,except for the dirty players and jerks.

In the classroom the rules are much less clear. Playing dirty may easily win you favors from the teacher and get others in trouble. Teachers often have biases based on gender, race, socio-economic background, etc.

I'm with Cham on "How to Win Friends and Influence People." It's been a long time since I last read it. I need to read it again. It's an easy read with some golden advice/insights.

10:28 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen
RE: Heh

Got it.

However, despite the assertion that being gentle works. It doesn't work with people who are not being gentle back and don't give a good darn about it. For instance, would-be 'tyrants' of any form: political, theological, scientific, etc. In other words, people with whom reason and logic have no place in discussions.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[He [British poet laureate Robert Southey] does not seem to know what an argument is. He never uses arguments himself. He never troubles himself to answer the arguments of an opponent. It has never occurred to him that a man ought to be able to give some better account of the way in which he has arrived at his opinions than merely that it is his will and pleasure to hold them. It has never occurred to him....that when an objection is raised, it ought to be met with something better than 'scoundrel' or 'blockhead'. -- Thomas Babington Macaulay, over 150 years ago]

10:40 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Roman Wolf said...

Dr. Helen,

I must admit, I had some...problems answering your question mainly because it's a rather broad question(sorta like if someone asked how to improve their writing). But ultimately I decided to answer you're question in as narrow a way I can.

I can recommend two books and you can even read them online if you want.

Rhetoric by Aristotle. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/a8rh/

De Oratore by Cicero. http://books.google.com/books?id=CZR3LlG_nQ0C&ots=vCIx_-u_H2&dq=de%20oratore&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false

You can find fairly good outlines on wikipedia for both books. Cicero is also the easier of the two(it's less academic in style).

10:44 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: JG, et al.
RE: Unproductive Conversation

If you find that you are getting mad at someone, it's an unproductive conversation. Why engage in it? -- JG

So....

....you suggest that when the nation is being taken to hell in the proverbial hand-basket, and the other side insists on shoving bad things down your throat....

....you do WHAT? Especially when they won't listen to you while you're drowning in taxes or they won't treat your child's illness because they don't think it's worth the effort?

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. We're talking life and death here....

10:44 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

I've never been one to enjoy Celebrity gossip shows on TV, but this business with Mel Gibson is riveting.

First, let's get one thing out of the way. Oksana Grigorieva could put Heather Mills to shame. The woman has a proven track record of being a master gold digger, and had thrived for years on the proceeds of child support payments from the father her first child. Mel Gibson should have invested in a $3 box of condoms or seen this coming from a mile away. Oksana probably recognized he was a loose cannon well before she decided to bear his love child.

Now, back to the recently recorded Mel Gibson rants that have been released to the public. One of the news media sites, I can't remember which, allowed a psychologist to review the tapes. She stated that if you actually listen to what Mel says he does have some valid concerns with Oksana. They were: She doesn't listen to his needs, she doesn't provide sex the way he wants it, and he feels that he is financially responsible for a lot of people.

Mel might have had some valid points in the discussion, but he loses all his credibility when he lowers himself to name calling, the threats, the racism and the rage. Getting back to Oksana, the psychologist mentions that she might have opted to end the phone call so an not to encourage the bad behavior.

But we all know why Oksana didn't end the call, if you listen you can see that she is attempting to rehash the same points over and over knowing she is recording the conversation and the more Mel rants the more damaging the call becomes. I'm no lawyer but I would expect that if these tapes become admissible in court he probably should not expect to get custody of the kid. By keeping her cool, Oksana can expect another massive child support payment plan lasting 18 years.

10:55 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

So....

....you suggest that when the nation is being taken to hell in the proverbial hand-basket, and the other side insists on shoving bad things down your throat....

....you do WHAT? Especially when they won't listen to you while you're drowning in taxes or they won't treat your child's illness because they don't think it's worth the effort?

----

Chuck,

Arguing with a clunkhead over these things - if he's not going to change his opinion at all, just get more entrenched - IS unproductive. That is not going to change anything.

If you want to change things, you have to become politically active, vote and do all of the other stuff that may have an effect.

In my case, I'm out of that game as well (I just hope they don't raise my taxes anymore, but they likely will), but I at least admit THAT - the latter - would be productive.

11:13 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Oksana Grigorieva could put Heather Mills to shame.

I didn't know about the previous guy, because, like you, I avoid celebrity gossip.

But we all know why Oksana didn't end the call,...

Exactly. She knows that call is being recorded, Mel doesn't. She pushes his buttons and eggs him on as much as possible. He handles it all quite poorly, but he is being set up/entrapped. The guy has some problems but she's a sociopath herself. I wonder how the courts will handle it. Surely the judge will see all this, but will it overcome Mel's rantings. Should it?

11:15 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

Dadvocate: The judge should do the right thing, send the poor kid to the foster system. Neither one should be a parent.

11:16 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

Oksana Grigoriava was married to 007 Timothy Dalton and had a son who is now 10 years old. The lady seems to have a thing for older movie stars who have substantial continuous cash flow.

11:26 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

"Surely the judge will see all this, ..."

---

Some older, male, chivalrous judges are simply not ABLE to see it. A woman can do pretty much whatever she wants, and the judge literally doesn't see it.

They are the heroes, upholding innocent womenhood and thundering at men that they better shape up.

Not matter WHAT happened.

11:26 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

I've got a truly bizarre idea: Why not change family law around so that predatory people like this terminator robot who got her hooks into Mel Gibson are at least not ASSISTED BY THE STATE.

A guy can get years in jail for stealing $75 from a 7-11 food store, but the state will HELP a manipulative bitch separate a man from millions or billions.

11:29 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

... and all the little princesses see how easy it is to become a multi-millionaire by that route, and decide that's a lot easier than 40 years of soul-destroying work.

11:30 AM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Larry J said...

But we all know why Oksana didn't end the call,...

Exactly. She knows that call is being recorded, Mel doesn't. She pushes his buttons and eggs him on as much as possible. He handles it all quite poorly, but he is being set up/entrapped. The guy has some problems but she's a sociopath herself. I wonder how the courts will handle it. Surely the judge will see all this, but will it overcome Mel's rantings. Should it?


There's also the possibility that the tapes were altered to make them sound even worse than they already were. That, and they apparently were illegally recorded. In California, both parties have to consent for a conversation to be recorded. Not excusing Gibson, just pointing out that all may not be as it seems.

12:00 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm not an expert in California law but the media seems to think since this is a custody dispute what is and isn't admissible seems to be a gray area. I have no idea how this is going to play out but we will know shortly I'm sure.

12:03 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

The fact that Grigorieva is releasing these tapes to the public says a lot about her motives and the type of person she is also.

12:14 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

"I have no idea how this is going to play out but we will know shortly I'm sure."

I think we know qualitatively what the result will be but they will just haggle over the specifics. Clearly this is a mutually dysfunctional couple, but Gibson is pretty out of control.

It disappoints me to see MRAs taking up the cause of Mel or Tiger Woods when they are objectively unsympathetic characters; MRAs need to popularize wrongful victims of the unjust system, guys who did nothing wrong but were ruined anyway.

12:35 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Live As If said...

While not exactly focused on the art of verbal self-defense, I have found This book very useful for managing conversations when they start to become verbally unsafe, so that I can get my point across in a way that might just be heard by the other person, even if he/she is a raving lunatic liberal.

12:39 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

It disappoints me to see MRAs taking up the cause of Mel or Tiger Woods when they are objectively unsympathetic characters; MRAs need to popularize wrongful victims of the unjust system, guys who did nothing wrong but were ruined anyway.

I have little sympathy for Woods or Gibson. But, and maybe I'm picking at your words too much, you won't find many guys, or gals, who've done nothing wrong. Usually there are missteps by both parties. Which is the case with Gibson, just of seemingly different severity. I say "seemingly" because we don't know what she did that wasn't recorded.

1:02 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger LordSomber said...

Some of these tips work well when dealing with the disagreeable:

"Tim Ferriss: 7 Great Principles for Dealing with Haters"

http://mashable.com/2010/04/29/deal-with-haters-tim-ferriss/

2:37 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger jimbino said...

Start every conversation by saying something outrageous like, "Texas will be liveable once the Rapture takes the Baptists." Then size up the other side by the response.

If it show total ignorance, shake the dust off your sandals and move on to a more receptive audience.

2:58 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

“Living well is the best revenge.”

This principle, one of the 7, ranks very high on my list. It's similar to "Success is the best revenge" but better. I like "living well" better than "success." I've tried to practice this in my life. I think it's worked. The people that don't like me seem really pissed that I'm happy and living a full life. My kids love it because we're all happy together and have a great time for the most part.

3:09 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...

LordSomber,

Thanks so much for the link. Those are some good tips and I guess Ferris ought to know. It seemed like his book, "The Four Hour Work Week" got a fair amount of criticism, though it is a fun read.

5:10 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Stormbringer said...

Perhaps it's the lingering effects of my Unhelpful Pills, but I disagreed with my therapist on this subject. She wanted me to put it all on myself: "When you say/do that, I feel..." Yeah, sure, sister.

I got her to admit that there are times when you do have to be direct and simply make your point. But I will admit that hostile speech should not be a first resort, and skillful art of verbal call-you-on-it can be very effective. Why should we always seem tranquil when we feel that our freedoms, self-respect or integrity are being attacked? Be certain, then be devastating.

5:28 PM, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Kurt said...

Thanks for this thread and for some of the tips and advice so far. I was curious about this book after I saw Glenn mention it on Instapundit. I read the first book in the series many years ago after finding it on sale at a Barnes and Noble, but didn't find it much help then, and I haven't looked at it since. I often wonder about this topic, though, since it often vexes me, especially in the age of Obama.

12:48 PM, July 18, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...

Kurt,

I didn't get much out of the book either. I think in these political times, it is better to stand up and make a scene than sit back, trying to be polite. Too many non-liberals have done that for too long and look at the result. Schools, the media, and culture taken over by leftists.

2:12 PM, July 18, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

One most certainly can stand up and make their views known without being impolite and making a scene.

6:49 PM, July 18, 2010  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I bought the Elgin book a long time ago and found its advice too vague and complex. A self-help book that describes 173 distinct verbal attacks that you have to learn to identify and respond to in 173 different ways is worthless. What one needs is explanations of a few basic techniques and examples of how they are used. And one needs to practice. One of the more important things to learn is that many people aren't worth arguing with.

8:40 AM, July 20, 2010  
Blogger RBartels said...

The book was a mess from my perspective.

Someone made a comment about "verbally unsafe" that reminded me what language is often "for"... communicating without touching. I don't find much wrong with being safely unsafe. Angry, hurt, or embarassed is uncomfortable but way down the ladder on Maslow's hierarchy.

Often a person who has become dangerous does not look dangerous, but when that person speaks it can be easy to figure out.

Acting impolitely and making a scene can many times do the job and likewise is a point of last resort before a physical response.

We don't have feathers, hackles, fangs, or claws but we do have voices, eye contact, and sign language, which beat the heck out of beating the heck out of somebody.

For the erudite there is always sarcasm!

3:35 PM, July 21, 2010  

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