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The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work Paperback – December 1, 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“... a crash course on just how powerful the English language is—and how easily it can be misconstrued.” -- Copley News Service, September 24, 2000

“Her genius is in separating what is meant…from the words that are actually spoken.” -- Dallas Morning News, Januray 23, 2000

“She interweaves lessons agreeably with examples that read like fiction.” -- American Way, February 2000

About the Author

SUZETTE HADEN ELGIN, Ph.D., is the founder of the Ozark Center for Language Studies. Her bestselling Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense books include Genderspeak and You Can't Say That to Me!, both from Wiley. She and her family live near Huntsville, Arkansas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1st edition (January 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735200890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735200890
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was on a curriculum development program on the real world for graduate students and we ended up specifying this book as one of the essential parts of the program. I've since specified other Elgin books as textbooks for graduate students and have never been disappointed.
This book does have a second edition which was reviewed positively by _The Alternative_, a dispute resolution publication out of Seton Hall Law School. Extremely accessible (meaning that *real* people can read this book and use it), with insights and information that many professionals do not have.
While her best selling book is now a little dated, and is written for a very basic audience (and is a classic in psych circles), this book is written to a more educated audience, without losing its message in jargon or technical language.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of half a dozen books I purchased in an attempt to deal with and understand bullying and office politics in the workplace. While the concepts and the knowledge presented are solid, the skills it takes to implement the tactics suggested are not skills the beginning bully buster or office politician has. I think someone who is already accomplished and aware of psychological principles, social skills and emotional intelligence could implement some of the suggestions, but this isn't a book you can pick up, read on break and walk away with anything that's going to change your life.

I'd consider this a text book more than a self-help book on verbal skills. The principles are real, are true and in the hands of those with the skill, intelligence and ability probably will make a world of difference in how they communicate. I think those that have that level of gamesmanship and ability already play the game well and this will help them polish their skills. Those new to office politics and semantics will give up and go on to something else or be intimidated by the layers and levels of gamesmanship that exist in the corporate world.

When I say "self-help" versus text book, I mean that "self-help" books can point out simple facts that a person can read and put into practice immediately and see some improvement. A textbook approach is something complex enough to require an outside observer who can comment and direct the learning attempt.

For instance, I have basic mechanical skills - like using a wrench, screwdriver, hammer and so on. I can read and understand basic instructions so I could read a "self-help" level book and figure out how to change my car's oil or flush the radiator in a few hours.
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Format: Paperback
This work provides a good development for constructive
argument aimed at management of confrontal modes. The author
describes classic behaviors; such as, the placater, the blamer,
the distracter and the leveler. There is a good section on
voice management which describes unifying metaphors and balanced
speech. The work describes practically every confrontation
imaginable with appropriate voice responses and body language.
This book will help you manage almost any type of confrontation
constructively. For this reason, it is well worth the price.
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Format: Paperback
The book was clear, practical and interesting reading. The approach was structured and logical with good examples of the different ways people use words to communicate and/or manipulate. The information on how word choices affect/influence other people, and how you can respond/compensate when the effect is directed against you were helpful and effective. One review I read felt the suggested responses were flippant and provocative. I did not agree with that viewpoint after reading the book. The responses the reviewer was referring to were directed at someone who was not truly concerned with the content of what they had said, but in the reaction they were trying to provoke. Ms. Elgin said the responses (basically to respond as if the comment had been positive rather than negative) took the fun out of what was a game to them; and I have found that to be true.

The only thing I found difficult were the exercises she gave to allow you to see how intuitively you do understand these things. I understood them when she explained, and when I read her examples; but I found I couldn't effectively apply the understanding to the exercises with any certainty. I'd have loved some answer pages somewhere! Another specific exercise she gave that I found difficult had to do with the sensory modes people use in communication. I had no difficulty understanding or identifying what was being used, but when given an opportunity to take a comment using touch sensory analogies and convert them to sight or hearing . . . I found it extremely difficult. Maybe my brain works differently than hers and many who reviewed the book!
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Format: Paperback
Truly a book that illuminates! While reading this book, I had so many "AHA!" moments, when I recognised behavioural patterns & particularly patterns of verbal abuse which I was experiencing and not understanding.
If you feel like you're in the dark about WHY people sometimes say things or react the way they do, then read this book - and see the light.
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