If you exercise good situational awareness, you may be able to utilize verbal control to diffuse a situation before it turns physical. Verbal control is defined as using verbal communication in a forceful, definitive manner to influence a situation. Being forceful is more than physical action. A forceful presence also involves mindset, attitude and verbal communication. Four ways verbal control can influence a threatening situation are as follows:
- Element of Surprise: If someone is trying to harm you, there is a good chance they have selected you for a reason. You may have exhibited some type of weakness that portrays you as an easy target. By unexpectedly executing loud, forceful commands, you can introduce an element of surprise that can throw an aggressor off. By aggressively yelling, “Stop, don’t come any closer!”, and throwing your hands up in a defiant manner you will force the aggressor to re-evaluate what is happening.
- Project Power: Verbally projecting power can take practice. A lot of people struggle with raising their voice and speaking in an aggressive manner. If you’re one of these people, practice and understand how forceful communication can be an important part of your self-defense. Your communication must be loud, forceful and abrupt. Combine verbal control with a confident, in-charge demeanor.
- Communicate Consequences: A common tactic in the escalation of force cycle is to introduce a force multiplier such as pepper spray or an impact weapon. Depending on the situation, it may be effective to communicate a boundary and consequence for crossing that boundary. For example, let’s say you forcefully told an advancing person to stop approaching, but they continue. Display a force multiplier and tell them to stop advancing or you’ll use it. Keep in mind that appropriate tactics are dependent on the situation.
- Alert Others: Being loud and drawing attention can alert others that you need help. Don’t count on help, but view it as a bonus if it arrives.
There are many aspects of verbal self-defense. Projecting power through verbal control is a small component of verbal self-defense skills. Learning to communicate in a confident, aggressive tone can alter the dynamics of a situation in your favor.