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How To Learn Sign Language

Toxic Language & Violent Communication


Hi, everyone. In today’s lesson we’re going
to look at the language of toxic people and the things that they say. This is the kind
of language we use when… Perhaps we don’t realize it, but by saying these things we
can start arguments, and we can say these things and people will become angry with us.
Another way of explaining toxic language is to say: “Violent communication”. I’ve shortened
the word “communication”, there. This was an area of study, you could say, by a man
called Marshall Rosenberg. So if you’re interested in the things I’m talking about in this lesson,
you can go search for the area of violent communication, and you can learn more about
it, because the whole philosophy, I suppose, is how we can change the language that we
use so that we can have more healthy communication with other people, and that way we don’t have
so many arguments and we have a more peaceful life at home. So I’ve got different kinds of violent communication,
and I’m going to go through them one by one, explaining as I go. First I’ll just read you
the list of the different kinds of violent communication. Blaming others, threats, shoulds,
labelling, black-and-white thinking, guilt-tripping, diagnosing, emasculation, and uncalled-for
advice. I’ll start with blaming. “Blaming” is when
in your life you do not take any responsibility for your problems. Everything that happens
to you is always somebody else’s fault. So, a person who blames other people would say
something like: “You make me so angry.” To use the verb “make”, and to say: “You make
me” is not taking responsibility for ourselves being angry. Another way we could say the…
Say a similar thing is to say: “I am angry.” But instead, we blame it all on that person.
It’s not the thing that happened, it’s because of you. Next we’ve got: “It’s all your fault.”
Imagine something goes wrong, there’s been a personal crisis going on in your family
or something, and your dad says to you: “It’s all your fault. Absolutely everything that
went wrong here is because of you.” All the blame goes on to you.” Obviously it’s not
a very nice thing to experience. We know that in life things are rarely all just caused
by one person, especially in a family, there’s… The way a family operates is: “You did this
and I did this”, so we can see it’s more complicated in most situations than all being one person’s
fault. So this expression, saying that to someone is usually an exaggeration as well,
because if somebody says that, in most cases, it’s not true. It’s not all their fault, maybe
some of it was. Next we’ve got: “You’re driving me crazy.” This is something that perhaps
a mother would say if she has some young children, maybe she has a 2-year-old, a 3-year-old,
and a 5-year-old and they’re all making lots of noise when they’re playing, she can say:
“Shut up! You’re driving me crazy!” And, again, she’s not taking responsibility for her own
stress and her own feelings of craziness; she’s blaming it on them. They are doing the
action to her. They are driving her crazy. Let’s look at threats now. A “threat” is when
you let someone know if they do that something bad will happen, or you will make something
bad happen, or there will be a bad consequence if they do that thing. And the reason you
give a threat is you want to stop that person doing it. So here’s an example: “If you don’t
get out of bed now, we’re going without you.” I imagine this situation, a teenage boy who
doesn’t want to wake up. It’s Saturday morning, 11 o’clock, he’s happy to sleep in til 1pm,
maybe 2pm, and his parents want him to get up so he can go and see the grandparents with
them. They might try and threaten him by saying: “If you don’t get out of bed now, we’re going
without you.” In the situation I described, maybe he wouldn’t care… Maybe the teenage
boy wouldn’t care that much about that particular threat, it depends. Next example: “If you
don’t eat your vegetables, you can’t have dessert.” A lot of parents say that to their
kids as a sort of threat, but similar to a bribe, where they want the child to eat something
healthy, and they don’t know how to get the child to eat the healthy thing, so they have
to use other ways in their language, or they feel that they must use other ways in their
language. They don’t know how to communicate in a reasonable and peaceful way to get the
child to eat vegetables, so they just feel a bit stressed and they say: “If you don’t
eat your vegetables, you’re not getting dessert.” And kids who are very much motivated by sweet
things, ice cream and things like that, they might decide to eat their vegetables so that
they can get the ice cream after. Let’s look at shoulds now. A “should”, we
can make a sentence using “should”, and when we do that, we’re telling other people how
they should live their lives. We can also use shoulds on ourselves, which is a… Which
is one of the ways we can talk to ourselves in toxic ways. For example, we can say to
someone: “You should be sorry.” You’re telling them how they should be feeling, how they
should be living their lives. You don’t know what happened in their experience, but you’re
telling them how to feel. We’ve got: “He should work harder at school.” That’s perhaps something
a parent would say to their child who didn’t get a very good result. And then we’ve got:
“You should help me more around the house.” Again, that’s something that a parent might
say to a child, or it could be a wife would say to a husband, or a husband would say to
a wife. Instead of saying: “Can you help me out around the house by doing some more cleaning?”
which is a more peaceful way of saying that, you say: “You should help me more around the
house”, and people don’t like that kind of language because it feels more like an order
or you’re telling them what to do. You’re not so much giving them… You’re not sharing
how you feel. If you share how you feel in a peaceful way, they might want to help you
more. Next we’ve got labelling. “Labelling” is when
you’ve decided in your head what another person is like, and we often do this with our family
members. And sometimes family members keep the label that they had for you since when
you were a child, and they don’t change it. And you’re 20 years old, and they still label
you the same; you’re 30 years old, they still label you the same, and it can be frustrating,
it can be upsetting because you… If they do that to you, you feel like they don’t really
know you. They’re just already decided who you are, but it could be that you’ve changed
a lot since they gave you that label. So the problem with labelling is that you fix someone
in a… You put them in a box, and you’ve decided how they are and that’s that. So here
are some examples. Perhaps a parent says to a friend, talking about her child: “Oh, she’s
the clever one in the family.” And perhaps that sounds like a compliment in a way. She’s
clever. Well, isn’t it good to be clever? In one sense, yes, but if the other child
is standing there next to her, that makes the other one feel not intelligent. And also,
if you label someone as being “that one”, “She’s the clever one”, that’s like making
that person the odd one out, the one that doesn’t belong with the other people in the
family. So it can be… If you’re always doing that to a person, it can make them feel like
they don’t belong and being the odd one out. Another example, I imagine here a parent who
is in a sense making an excuse for their child’s behaviour, and by that I’m not saying it’s
right or wrong for a child not want… Not wanting to interact with all adults and be
confident, and be like an extraverted child, always talking, I’m not saying that’s right
or wrong; I’m saying that when a parent feels that they have to comment on the behaviour
of their child because they’re not talking by saying something, like: “Oh, he’s shy.”
What they’re doing there is… It’s a bit like excusing, making an excuse, but also
in that sense limiting their child by keep… If you keep telling someone that they’re shy,
then in a way it will become true. Or perhaps someone was quiet then for other reasons,
not because they were feeling shy, it was just because they didn’t have something to
say. But then when your parent says: “Oh, you’re shy”, that can become true, then, and
it can make it harder for you to speak later. And the last one: “Angela is a spoiled brat.”
That’s a more obvious kind of labelling which is negative. That’s like… “A brat” is someone
who is usually a young person who behaves in a very immature way. And we normally say
it: “spoiled brat”, you keep giving them toys, you keep spending money on them but they’re
never happy and they don’t have very good manners. So if I say: “Angela is a spoiled
brat”, that’s me labelling her in a way as if that’s the way she always behaves, there’s
nothing nice about her, and it’s… Obviously it’s not very kind words to say to someone
or about someone. Maybe it’s true, but if we always focus on the worst things about
other people, we will not see the good sides of them ever. So, coming up next I’ve got
more examples. Now we have black-and-white thinking. A person
who is in the habit of doing “black-and-white thinking” always thinks a situation is 100%
good and great, or the worst thing ever in the world. And those kind of people tend to
also really, really love someone or really, really hate someone, and it will swing in
between. They don’t really ever see the middle ground in the idea, in the situation. So,
black-and-white thinking, the way we show that in language if often by using the words
“always” or “never”. Here’s an example: “You’re always late. Come on, hurry up.” If we think
about it, is that person late every single time they go somewhere? Perhaps not, probably
not. I mean, I do know people who seem to be always late, but there must be exceptions
sometimes when they’re not. Another example, here: “You never help me around the house.”
That would mean: “I do everything myself, and you just use all my work and you just
make me tired, like the slave of washing and cleaning everything”, where in reality it
is probably true that they do something, right? Maybe they help washing the clothes or washing
the dishes or something, so it’s not very reasonable language. If you actually want
someone to help you more, accusing them of never helping you, in many cases will make
the person not want to help you that day, at least that day with the housework that
you have to do. And here’s another example: “You always mess everything up!” Now, that
kind of thing, obviously it’s not nice to hear if somebody says that about you, but
I think that kind of thing is a really damaging thing for a child to hear. If a child… Let’s
say you’ve got a clumsy child that spills drinks or breaks cups, they’re not doing it
on purpose, but they don’t have very good coordination. If you say something like that
to them: “You’re always dropping things”, then they will lose their self-esteem, really,
about things. So if you say: “You always mess everything up”, not only do we have “always”,
which means every time you do something; we also have “everything”, every single thing
you do is a big mess, is a disaster. So we have extra exaggeration in this example. Let’s look now at “guilt-tripping”, or another
way to explain that is to say “covert manipulation”. If something is covert, it means it’s not
obvious; it’s hard to see at first. You need advanced skills in understanding people to
realize that they’re playing with you, or playing with your emotions. So let’s look
at these examples. Imagine you’re… Okay, the first image that comes into my head for
that situation is a wife who’s cooked dinner for her husband and he comes in late, and
he told her he was going to be back for dinner at 8 o’clock, but he didn’t come back until
half past 9, she might say: “There’s no point eating this now. I’ll put it in the bin”,
as if it’s… “It’s ruined. I did all that for you and now it’s cold. I left it here
til you got back just so you could see it, but now I think it’s best I put it in the
bin. You obviously didn’t want it anyway.” The next example is: “Your mother is upset
because you did badly in the exam.” Let’s imagine a situation where mom’s a bit angry,
maybe she’s doing some stomping around, closing cupboards loudly, huffing, that kind of thing.
This is when dad gets in on the action to blame the child in this situation for mom’s
stress and bad mood.” So they’re in a team, here. “Your mother is upset because you did
badly in the exam.” So even for… I suppose it depends on the exam, but even for relatively
small things, like a school test or whatever, some manipulators will decide to use that
thing which they’re not happy about, and they’ll get stressed and they’ll do things like slamming
doors to show you they’re angry or upset, rather than say: “Oh, I’m disappointed that
you didn’t try harder in the exam.” They want to just show you that they’re upset to, in
a way, frighten you or guilt trip you to work harder next time. Another example is: “Oh,
the poor dog hasn’t been out today. Oh, don’t you want to go for a walkies? Poor doggy.”
Now, of course, what they really mean there for another person to hear is: “Oh, I would
like you to take the dog for a walk now. I would like you to do it. Not me, I would like
you to do it.” So instead of saying that, they talk about the poor dog, the sad dog,
the unfortunate dog, and they say: “He hasn’t been out today”, because they want you to
say: “Oh, right, I’ll do it now.” The next example is diagnosing. “Diagnosing”
is when you consider yourself to be a psychologist and you know everything about that person,
so you use it in your language of talking to them, either accusing them or excusing
them for their behaviour because you know so much about them, and the thing that describes
their personality or the thing that’s wrong with them. So let’s look at this example.
Imagine you’re in a relationship and there’s problems in your relationship sometimes, and
what you really want in your head is to be closer in that relationship or spend more
time with that person, perhaps you would accuse them of being a commitment-phobe. “Commitment-phobe”,
this is a kind of person who needs a lot of space in the relationship, never wants to
get serious, never wants to get married, never wants to have kids. Perhaps they change their
mind about being in the relationship a lot. If you are frustrated with that person, and
because you diagnose them to be this way because of a problem, you could say: “This is all
because you’re a commitment-phobe.” Next we’ve got: “You’re an actual sociopath!” When we
say “actual” here it means, like, real and it also is a way to emphasize, calling someone
a sociopath. It makes it stronger in that way. And it’s also quite conversation… Conversational
to say: “actual”. So, what’s a sociopath? Some of you might not know it. It’s like a
person who will tell any lie so that they can get what they want. They’ll use other
people so that they can get their own needs met, so for money, for sex, whatever it is
that drives them, the sociopath has no conscience. So, sociopaths tend to be either crazy people
in prison, criminals; or very, very good sociopaths tend to be our politicians and that’s because
they don’t feel guilty about lying. And the next one here is… This is an example of
a parent saying… Having diagnosed their child, they say: “You can’t concentrate because
of your ADHD.” So, there’s a situation, perhaps the child is not really listening, or not
really doing its homework like the parent wants the child to, so what they say is…
They see that behaviour, and they just make this whole excuse for it, and they label the
child and tell the child how to behave. “You can’t. Impossible. Impossible for you. You
can’t concentrate because of your ADHD.” Now, some of you might not know what that is. That
stands for “attention deficit”… “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, and in places
like the USA and the U.K. and probably other western countries as well, kids that are diagnosed
to have this are often prescribed prescription medication, such as Ritalin, to help them
concentrate in school. So these are kids that struggle to pay attention in school, and are
often more defiant with the teachers and get in more trouble at school. So, a parent might…
Or the doctors might diagnose… I think in this situation the doctors would diagnose
the child, or the teachers would diagnose the child as having ADHD, but then the parent
takes that and then they’re always saying it. “This is because of your ADHD. This is
because of your ADHD”, and in that way there’s no responsibility on the parent anymore for
their parenting skills; it’s not their fault, all the bad behaviour of the child. And also
it’s not the fault of the child either; the child can’t help it, the child has ADHD. Now let’s look at emasculation. “Emasculation”
means when a man is attacked in a way to make him less manly. So, to take away his confidence
in himself as a man. Here are some examples: “You look so gay in that t-shirt.” This would
be said to someone who wasn’t actually gay and didn’t want to look as if they were gay
by wearing a t-shirt that looked gay. Perhaps his girlfriend, if she wanted to get some
power over him and feel… Feel bigger and make him feel bad, she might say that: “You
look so gay in that t-shirt.” And then probably what he’ll do… Perhaps not right away in
the next five minutes, but within the next hour or so he’ll change the t-shirt and he’ll
come out. Maybe not right away. Next example, this one is much more indirect. Let’s say
you’re a girl and you’re with your boyfriend, and you say to him: “There was a tall, handsome
doctor in the hospital”, you’ve just come out of the hospital. “And this doctor was
so handsome. He was at least 6 foot 4. Gorgeous doctor.” Meanwhile your boyfriend next to
you is not some tall, handsome, sporty kind of guy, so the fact that you talk about that
other man as if he’s the ultimate of all men is a way of making your boyfriend feel small
and less manly. And finally we get to “uncalled-for advice”.
This means when you go to someone and you give them advice that they didn’t ask you
for, it can be really annoying. This happens to me a lot, being on YouTube. I think it
happens to a lot of women on YouTube as well, because in the comments section people think
that they are helping you with the things that they write. They can tell you things
about your technical situation, they can tell you about… Men and women will leave these
kinds of comments. They’ll tell you about the clothes you are wearing. And one of the
ones that sticks in my mind was that I’d gave… I’d given a presentation, and the video was
up about this presentation, and somebody left a comment saying about how I was dressed:
“You should wear pearls”-a pearl necklace-“so that people believe you more”. And what…
They were trying to help me, I guess, but they thought that I wasn’t smart enough and
I didn’t look right to give the presentation, but their advice was: “If only I wear pearls,
that way people will believe me”, because you can’t possibly believe the things that
a woman is saying unless she’s wearing pearls, and you can’t take her seriously. So that’s
just one example of uncalled-for advice, but it happens a lot. So, we’ve got lots of examples of violent
communication there, toxic things that people say. I think, if we’re honest with ourselves,
we all say things like this sometimes. So what we need to do is just be conscious of
that, try and reduce it, if we want to, if we can, because these kind of things… When
we say this to people it’s a way of making our relationships unhealthy and having more
problems, so it’s good for me, it’s good for you if we become more aware of our language
in these ways. What I’ve also got is a lesson on being passive aggressive, this is related
to this kind of video. I think you should go and watch that one now. Thanks for watching,
and see ya later. Bye.

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