(OPRAH.com) -- Cutting remarks, "helpful" suggestions, subtle (or not-so-subtle) stabs -- how to handle these verbal ambushes?
You can slink away, lose your cool ... or employ Martha Beck's cleverly adapted martial arts techniques to turn your attackers' words against them. Hiiiiii-yaa!
"Don't worry, hon," said Theresa's husband, Guy, when she failed to extinguish all her birthday candles in one breath. "A woman your age has to be in shape to make wishes come true. You just don't have the lung capacity."
Guy chortled. Theresa's face turned scarlet. The rest of us chuckled nervously. We were used to Guy, to the jocular way he planted and twisted stilettos between his wife's ribs. Like most of Theresa's friends, I'd always found him just charming enough to be tolerable.
But as I watched him serve Theresa's cake, something dawned on me: Guy was a mean person. He'd intentionally humiliated his wife, and he did such things often. It was like that moment in a horror movie when you understand that the rogue car, rather than simply straying off course, is actively pursuing children and puppies. Oprah.com: How to set personal boundaries
I recall an urge to kick Guy in the throat, which I controlled by reminding myself that it was both illegal and difficult to pull off in heels. I was studying karate at the time, and though it didn't occur to me then, I would eventually realize that the basic principles taught at my dojo could be used to fight evil not just in action but in conversation as well.
I think of it as martial arts of the mind, and if you're subject to subtle stabs, deliberate snubs, or cutting remarks, you might find these techniques an effective defense against the Guys of your world.