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October 7, 20
CALGARY, AB, Oct. 7, 12/ Troy Media/ – Editor’s Note: Are you being bullied at home, work or school? Send your emails to Anne McTavish, Troy Media’s Conflict Coach, for advice on handling the situation.
Dear Anne: I’m a good soccer player, but my best friend keeps calling me names when we play. Like last week when my team was ahead. Suddenly, my friend started calling me ‘loser’ and saying I looked funny when I ran. That really upset me. How can I get my friend to be nice to me?
A. What happened to you is called trash talk. You must be good. When a player is really good, the other team uses trash talk to make them lose focus. Trash talk uses insults and taunts to take a person’s focus off what they’re doing. Instead of focusing on the game, the good player focuses on the attacker and what was said.
In the 2007 World Cup, Italian soccer player Marco Materazzi trash-talked French player Zinedine Zidane. Zidane responded by head butting Materazzi. Zidane got off his game, into trouble, and Italy won.
Now that you know trash talk is used against good players to mess with their focus, the next time it’s used against you, you will know you’ve just been told you’re a good player. So good that they can’t beat you playing soccer. They’ve given you a. That should put a smile on your face and let you play even better. When your friend learns that you’re onto him and the trash talk doesn’t work anymore, he’ll stop.
Dear Anne Two of us at work are being considered for a promotion. The other guy takes every opportunity to put me down and criticize my work. It’s starting to get to me. What can I do?
A. You’ve already taken the first step by recognizing that the other guy is trying to make himself look better by making you look bad. The next step is to objectively look at your work. Is there any basis for his criticisms and if so, what is it? If he’s pointing out a major flaw, you can correct it, and he’s done you a favour. More likely, it’s the nit-picky type of things he’s pointing out, things that don’t have any impact on the work product. You can simply say, ‘Thank you for pointing that out.’ The tough part will be keeping the irritation out of your voice.
Every time he insults you or puts you down (trash talk), you should recognize he’s admitting that you’re the stronger contender. Instead of making you feel upset, his verbal attacks will now be signals that he thinks you’re the better candidate, and they’ll no longer get to you.
When someone’s talking with us, we assume that what they’re saying is true. But when someone’s trash talking, they’re saying anything and everything, regardless of whether there’s any basis to it. It’s verbal diarrhea. Don’t touch it! Let it drop. Don’t replay it in your mind.
If you decide to say something to him, take him aside so that you don’t embarrass him in front of others. You could say, ‘Bill, your trash talk isn’t gaining you any points. Putting other people down doesn’t lift you up. Every time you put me down, you’re signaling you don’t think you’re good enough to get the promotion.’
He will react in one of two ways. Hopefully, he’ll back off. Most likely, he’ll increase his attacks, and it will be obvious to everyone. People skills are important in every job. By attacking you, he’ll be showing that he doesn’t have good people skills. By remaining calm and focused when under attack, you’ll be showing you have strength of character and good people skills.
Troy Media Columnist Anne McTavish is a conflict coach and lawyer, and her website is http://www.FistFreeLanguage.com.