“Lots of people think verbal self-defense means fighting back. Their image of verbal self-defense is a collection of killer smart cracks plus strategies for using language to wipe the floor with their opponents. It’s not an accurate image. In this edition of How Stuff Works, I’d like to show you a different way to relate to other people, especially when you disagree. Let’s talk about it a minute.
Why Verbal Self-Defense is a Skill We Need:
It has undoubtedly happened to you. There you are, in the middle of a fierce argument with someone, and suddenly you realize that you not only don’t particularly care about the subject of the argument but you can’t understand how you got into the altercation in the first place! This isn’t trivial. Hostile language is dangerous to your health and well-being; it’s toxic stuff. People who are frequently exposed to hostile language get sick more often, are injured more often, take longer to recover from illness and injury, and suffer more complications during recovery. As an obvious result, they tend to die sooner than those not so exposed. What’s more, hostile language is just as dangerous to the person dishing it out (and to innocent bystanders who can’t leave the scene) as it is to the person on the receiving end.
Obviously it’s to your advantage to stay out of arguments in both your personal and your professional life, unless something truly important — something about which you care profoundly — is at stake. Even then, most of us are aware that it’s possible to have intense discussions that don’t turn into altercations. How is it, then, that intelligent people keep finding themselves involved in arguments almost by accident?”
(via How Stuff Works)