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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who need help in this area, this one is a Winner!
There are certain members of my family whom I always wanted to avoid. I was not wrong, they are difficult to get along with, but that never made me feel better about myself.
It was an eye-opener to discover that with some few little pointers I could learn to get through a telephone conversation or even a dinner without feeling put-down and without getting...
Published on February 16, 2003 by Kindle Customer

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but lacking.
There isn't a human being alive who hasn't, at one time or another, been treated to verbal abuse. Some people are equipped to handle it very well, others are not. But not too many people can say they actually enjoy being verbally abused. THE GENTLE ART OF VERBAL SELF DEFENSE by Suzette Elgin is a good basic starting point in developing your own verbal self defense...
Published on February 2, 2006 by Monty Rainey


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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who need help in this area, this one is a Winner!, February 16, 2003
There are certain members of my family whom I always wanted to avoid. I was not wrong, they are difficult to get along with, but that never made me feel better about myself.
It was an eye-opener to discover that with some few little pointers I could learn to get through a telephone conversation or even a dinner without feeling put-down and without getting successfully baited into a disagreement. And I have had to learn to not expect to feel only two inches tall with some of them!
The best part of her technique is learning to handle the attack without attacking back. Not having to resort to being mean, and not having to participate in any arguments at all. It was so simple that I almost feel stupid for not having been able to figure it out on my own. Now I'm only kind of mad that there are people against whom I might need to defend myself, but it sure helps to know how to do it.
The other great part is that I learned that I also indulged in a little verbal attacking, as well, though, because I had learned it in my family, I did not recognize it as such. After the initial horror at myself I am pleased that I no longer need to do that.
This book may not be needed by everyone, but if you can't understand why you always feel put down or angry around certain people this book will almost definitely help.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, March 6, 2001
This remains the very best book ever written on the subject. I own several copies... all out on loan at the moment! Dr. Elgin explains how to handle verbal attacks (some of which you may not have recognized as attacks although they started an argument and/or made you feel rotten) in ways that put a stop to hostile language with no loss of face on either side. Looking for one-upmanship tips and snappy comebacks? You won't find them here. What you WILL find are eary to understand, step by step instructions that will stop verbal abuse and leave room for real (necessary, useful) communication.
I think the first three books (The Gentle Art..., More on..., and The Last Word on...) are the cream of the crop, but any of her books on the subject will give you good information that you can put to use at once.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but lacking., February 2, 2006
By 
Monty Rainey (New Braunfels, TX) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense (Hardcover)
There isn't a human being alive who hasn't, at one time or another, been treated to verbal abuse. Some people are equipped to handle it very well, others are not. But not too many people can say they actually enjoy being verbally abused. THE GENTLE ART OF VERBAL SELF DEFENSE by Suzette Elgin is a good basic starting point in developing your own verbal self defense mechanisms.

Whether your nemesis in verbal abuse is your spouse, your boss, coach, co-worker, etc., this book will give you some insight into hidden signs that a verbal assult is being launched at you. The book succeeds quite well in presenting the reader with catch words and phrases that act as "presuppositions". Elgin's work is on the premise that by identifying the presuppositions and not "taking the bait", the verbal assault can be avoided, or at least defused somewhat.

In that realm, the author does a good job of instructing the reader on what to listen for and how to recognise that an attack is headed your way. However, where the book falls short, is in the authors rather simplistic recommended responses. I believe in today's vernacular (this book was written in 1985), many of the author's suggested responses may even serve to make matters worse.

The author has written subsequent volumes, and perhaps has a more "modern" language version available, but I believe I will pass on further reading of this author. But don't me wrong, if your goal is to begin to develope your verbal self-defense mechanism, this book is a pretty good starting point.
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85 of 99 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag: Analysis strong, Implications Weak., July 29, 2003
By 
William R. Toddmancillas (Chico, California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Professor Elgin does a good job of analyzing verbal insults to reveal the presumptions underlying them, which we often sense but which we are unable to identify. She also rightly explains that responding to the conclusions reached by our adversaries--but ignoring the presumptions--simply impales us more deeply on their verbal hooks. Her suggestions, however, for dealing with these insults are somewhat in error. Her recommendation that we respond to the presumptions is correct, as allowing the verbal abuser to go unchallenged merely sets us up for further insult. What I find troubling, however, is the cheeky and indirect responses she recommends as retorts. The more straightforward of these responses are, it seems to me, appropriate. The more clever, indirect, and inappropriately neutral responses are, however, misguided, as they will ultimately lead to further animosity and serve to embed problematic interpersonal dynamics beneath a veneer of civil insult. Perhaps I would have found her analysis and recommendations more convincing had she systematically substantiated her analysis with references to credible literature. All things considered, I think that the forewarned reader can learn much of value from this book but only if they consider carefully the long-term implications of following her specific recommendations, some of which will be effective, and others of which are, in this reviewer's opinion, cheeky, indirect, unclear, and likely to provoke further insult.
Review written by an experienced Professor of Interpersonal Communication Studies.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the subject that I've read!, July 6, 1999
By A Customer
Wonderful! Ms. Elgin treats the subject on verbal self-defense with great care to be neither too technical, nor too simplistic. It is well written and thoroughly engaging. This book introduces the reader first to idea of the verbal attack, then subsequently to the steps and cues required to UNDERSTAND the attack. Once an understanding of what the attacks themselves presuppose has been achieved, then a defense may be mounted.
The subject, I believe, is treated fairly, ethically, morally and promotes diffusing a confrontation without unneeded verbal bloodshed!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What they SHOULD teach in grade school but don't!, February 16, 2001
By 
Anita (Hammond, LA) - See all my reviews
I don't understand why this book is out-of-print. The information included in it is valuable and unavailable anywhere else. This book should be required reading for all sixth and seventh graders and schools should teach it. If they did, maybe our society would have more emotionally healthy teenagers than we do. And in the south, no parents who love their daughters should dream of letting them have contact with other young girls before they are given a thorough grounding in this book's contents. I'm serious! I found a battered old second-hand copy of this book not long ago and I am already beginning to enjoy the benefits. I popped one southern belle shark with some of this and she backed off! Nothing is more valuable than emotional well-being.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars basic advice anyone can use, May 31, 2009
This review is from: The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense (Hardcover)
This book has been in print for a long time, and there are good reasons for that. Interpersonal relations do not change dramatically; conflict with others will always be with us, and we may as well be as prepared as practical to deal with those who would snipe, complain, blame, and otherwise verbally abuse us or others.

This book clearly lays out several common modes of verbal abuse; any reader will have been exposed to pretty much all of them before. They are categorized, analyzed, and dissected for hidden and potentially hidden meanings, allowing the reader to identify what part of the whole constitutes the attack, the sharp end, of a comment. The author then offers a number of suggestions on potentially effective counters, which usually involve ignoring the bait of an attack and instead focusing on the underlying presupposition folded into the comment. She builds up some short confrontation conversations, and encourages the reader to both practice building up new ones, as well as to keep a journal regarding comments heard and potential responses over time.

The advice seems fair enough so far as it goes; generally the idea is to defuse the attack so as to eventually allow both sides to address honestly any underlying problem. No doubt this book could be expanded to cover far more potential situations in far greater detail; for a primer, though, this will do fine. The author also touches on rhetorical skills in conversations, charisma, body language, power relationships (students, patient-doctor, etc), as well as including one chapter each as pertain to women and men.

It's a short read that will be of use primarily to the verbally under-skilled in allowing them to identify first why they seem to feel picked on; second, why they often seem to feel they have lost any verbal disagreement and don't know why; and third, to allow the resolution by honest dealings of actual problems once the verbal abuse has been rechanneled into a productive exchange of views.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book to use on well intentioned family and friends, June 5, 2008
Everyone has that mom/dad who tells you that they only want the best for you and that is why you should do things just like they tell you to. Everyone has the friend who tells you that you are pretty but could lose some more weight. Everyone has that sibling who tells you how to spend your money and what friends to choose. This book is for them. You want to stand up to them without losing their friendship or hurting their feelings.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, strange title, August 10, 2011
I can't remember when I read this book, but it must have been years ago now. I just opened it to the TOC and it all comes back.. "if you really..., don't you even care..., even you should..." and five more. When I first read it, the background logic behind statements like these was a revelation. I'd grown up surrounded by this type of construction, so like a fish not knowing water, I was blind to the cause of the tension I felt every time I heard them.

Perhaps some of the three star reviewers have a point. Some of the examples are a bit dated. OTOH, the evidence I hear from my own life and from my friends' relationships suggests that we're not very different, and perhaps worse. People who learn relationship skills from sitcoms, or who don't learn them at all because the grownups aren't home relating to each other enough to demonstrate how to relate, aren't any better off than someone who grew up in the 1960s.

My copy of the book was written in 1980. It never received the popular acclaim than Tannen and Gray got with their books. Fine. For me, Verbal Self Defense was more useful. Perhaps because it came first, perhaps because it gave me tangible strategies for responding. It is certainly NOT worthless. If you've never heard the phrase, "If you really loved me, ..." in your primary relationship, count your blessings, and stay married. However, if some form of that phrase has been part of your life and you've never completely understood why you feel bad when you heard it, read this book.

Funny, but there's another one she must have addressed in one of the chapters: "Don't you want to ...?" No, I don't want to. I WILL do that, but I really would rather you simply ask me to, rather than expect me to want to, too.... I have always attributed my freedom from the guilt-load attached to that statement to Verbal Self Defense.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-visit what you think you know, July 14, 2012
Relationship manipulation through words is unmasked.

After reading this book, you'll have no excuse for being made to feel bad, or doing things through others' manipulations.

An eye opener. I re-read this book in 2000, and, incredibly, found that I was allowing some of these no-nos to occur regularly in my marriage communication! Yikes!

Some of these techniques can be shrouded in "well meaningness" which can slip by, confuse you. It did me. Always good to re-visit what you think you know!
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The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense
The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin (Hardcover - June 1985)
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