Some idioms can be quite idiotic … especially when applied to human relations. Take the idiom, “attack is the best means of defence”.  Definitely a no-no for conflict resolution. Attacking someone by insulting or ridiculing them as a means to protect one’s name, action, or position will invariably lead to increased anger and hostility, making resolution all the more difficult.  Not only that, but it can also lead to increased defensiveness and an escalation of offence. Human-beings sadly don’t forget easily. Moving on from a verbal attack is difficult for most.

In a nutshell, insults damage relationships, they destroy trust, and they annihilate goodwill. There is neither short-term nor long-term value to an insult.

On the other hand, responding to verbalised pain, shame or cutting critical words with a gentle, empathic response, de-escalates the potential for misunderstanding. Overlooking an offence (perceived or actual), being diplomatic and cautious with one’s words (particularly when angry), prioritizing empathy and trying to understand where that other person might be coming from, is a wise course of action that will pay dividends in the future.

Diplomacy and kindness in difficult conflictual situations is far more powerful and far more effective than ridicule, mockery and disrespect. This is by no means an easy recipe to follow. But when weighing up the potential outcome it offers for ongoing relationship and manageable interaction,  then following the safer route of no attack is certainly the better means of defence, and it’s gains far outweigh the losses.

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