Verbal Bashing...or are We Just Too Sensitive?

Since our Birthday Bash Contest is coming to a close this month, this week is Birthday Bash week here at Communication FUNdamentals.  Monday, I shared a Word Scramble with two ways to get extra points toward our Birthday Bash Grand Prize.  So...for this week's misused word, I'd like to share a bit about the word bash. This word has been thrown around a great deal recently to mean anything from attacking someone verbally to interpreting something someone said as in some way negative.  It's the latter I'd like to discuss here today. Are we all just too sensitive? Merriam Webster defines bash as "to attack physically or verbally."  However, I've seen situations where a person has taken something someone said and either nitpicked it or taken it out of context in order to find an offense.  Some of us are so sensitive about a particular topic that we look for opportunities in which to take offense.  How can we know whether or not something was meant as an offense and whether or not to address the issue or leave it be? Here are JoJo's Rules of Thumb for Taking Offense. 1. Always assume the other person means well until proven otherwise. This is very similar to assuming someone is innocent until proven guilty.  The law of the land says that the accused is assumed innocent until proven guilty.  Unfortunately, we don't often extend the same courtesy to those who are not accused criminals.  We don't often give "accused offenders" the same grace.  I find that, when I assume the other party didn't mean to offend, I am proven right given a little time. 2. Give it time. Sometimes we need to sit with things a bit before we can see its true meaning.  If our initial feelings lead us to conclude an offense was meant, we may be happy to find that given time, the situation reveals itself. I have noticed that the conversation or email/Facebook replies will give clarification to the original meaning or cause the speaker to reword his communication in order to reveal his original meaning which was not meant in any derogatory way. 3. Look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself if you might be reading too much into the comment.  Perhaps you know you are overly sensitive to this issue.  Reread it to see if there is another way in which it could have been meant. 4. Think on his reputation. Has this person been known to be hostile?  Has he made a habit of browbeating or verbally bashing folks before?  Or has this person been a kind and considerate soul?  Have you known this person to have difficulty expressing himself?  Is English his second language?  These are all things that might help you paint a picture of the individual which will give you clues as to his intentions. 5. Ask a question. Ask for clarification and you may find that the offense is simply due to a simple miscommunication. 6. Address it in grace. If you feel the need to address the issue, do so in private and do so in grace.  Be respectful and share your thoughts in love. Most of us have some issues we are more sensitive about than others.  We have had an instance in our past where we have taken offense when none was intended.  How we handle our offense can make the difference between a small misunderstanding among friends and a huge rift in a friendship. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication.  Her Christian and humorous approach to communication skills has made her a sought after speaker.  JoJo’s articles have appeared in various homeschool magazines and websites such as Dr.  Her Say What You Mean curricula is endorsed by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and her eBook, Say What You Mean When You’re in Business, has been used by direct sales leaders and small business owners alike.  For more information, please visit


  • Carla

    Wonderful, JoJo! And not to mention timely. With social media, texting and other instant communication replacing face-to-face or written communication, taking offense seems to be the new national pastime! People don’t think before they reply either. If you don’t believe it, join a few Yahoo groups and watch what happens when someone innocently says the wrong things. WHEE DOGGIES!!! I had a lawyer once tell me that if you were ever called to testify, before you answer anything, including what your name is, take a 2-second deep breath. He said you should take 2 seconds to think before you answer ANYTHING. A lot of folks need to heed his advice. And then re-read this article after the 2 seconds are up!

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  • Kathy Terwilleger

    Well said Jo Jo!

  • jojosblog

    Very good advice, Carla! I agree.

    Glad you enjoyed the article, Kathi.

    Cindy, I used to wear my heart on my sleeve years ago. I got offended by lots of things. Had to give that up. To taxing…mostly on ME! ROFL

  • cindy holman

    I agree – well said. I tend to be very sensitive and have to work hard at letting things go – and thinking the very best of people. But it does take work. I had a situation yesterday online with a friend and yo are right – we do need to give those comments and things we perceive as negative – some time. It pays to say nothing sometimes and better for all if we do. Thanks JoJo – glad I’m not alone here. By the way – you gave me the idea for my blog today ?

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