Never Get Caught By Surprise Verbally

Never Get Caught By Surprise … Verbally!

by Keith Pascal

It’s the holiday time, once again. This means that my wife and I get to go out in public and observe some truly mean, stressed out behavior in others.

I really don’t like that Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza seem to bring out both the best and worst in people. Consistency throughout the year would be more appreciated.

In other words, I wholeheartedly believe that we should exhibit charity and kindness all year round.

Anyway, already my wife and I have noticed some less-than-polite interactions between store workers, product delivery people, and customers:

Last week, a cashier that we know was restocking stuff in the frozen food section of the store. An older couple turned away, and as they passed by, the man uttered, “She may have been too busy to tell us where the paper plates were, but was she too busy to be nice about it?”

I made them both feel better by sympathizing and then doing a magic trick for them.

Then, today, my wife and I had a couple of errands to run in the big chain department/gorcery store:

1) I had to push my cart in front of where the delivery man was stocking bottled beverages. I said excuse me to him, and … nothing. No smile, no acknowledgment, no words. Nothing.

2) A lady started to push her cart, and because of a funky wheel, the cart veered toward me. I easily caught it, before it could hit me in the thigh or waist.

I looked at her and smiled. Nothing.

So, I said, “That was a close one.”

Still no response. Nada. Niente.

Bubkas … not even potato bubkas (I mean latkes).

3) My wife said, “Excuse me,” to a lady with her cart at the meat cooler. Kate wanted to reach over and grab a roast, but the cart was blocking her.

I kid you not … this older lady locked both hands on the bar of her cart and held it firmly in place.

Kate smiled at her, pointed at the roast, and when the lady wouldn’t budge, my wife simply pivoted the front of the cart enough to squeeze in a bit and reach for the cut of meat.

So, what does all this have to do with being a martial arts master and self-defense skills?

You and I are martial artists. If you’re reading this ezine, then you care about self-defense. Period.

I don’t care if you drive a truck, work in sales, take tickets at the movie theater, write books … whatever. If you ever encounter people then I think you should have your “small talk,” down pat.

I’m talking about the really really small talk. Think about interactions just above the level of ritual human encounters, like “Hello.”

Whether you have to memorize some set responses, practice impromptu phrases to the point that they feel more rehearsed, or take time to get comfortable thinking on your feet, you need to be able to respond quickly and pleasantly, without too much thought.

I emphasize “pleasantly,” because the goal of this newsletter is to keep you safe.

A few pleasant words, (with maybe an explanation of your kind intent, because they didn’t understand what you first said), can go a long way.

Finally, think of it all this way …

Some people need martial arts skills because of all the rough encounters they have.

Wouldn’t it be cool if those rough patches could be smoothed out a little with a kind, diplomatic word?

Have a great week,


Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

  1. Brian Lanigan
    6 years ago

    People today don`t seem to be as tough as in the past. They seem to be angry, rude and mean.

    • Keith Pascal
      6 years ago

      I can only respond for a United States perspective …
      Do you think this is because of our political climate?

      It’s almost as if the current administration rewards the rudest people,
      and rewards those who show their anger.



  2. Diane Calise
    6 years ago

    Great article. By following the wisdom of kindness, polite interactions with all individuals we encounter year round is the right thing to do. I have noticed when I smile at an individual they seem to automatically smile back. The power of smiling. Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. And smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you.
    My martial art skills has provided my ability to control emotions and reactions to situations. A useful skill to not stress the small stuff.