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How to speak from the battlefield

Posted by Simon Parke, 24 September 2018, 3.26pm

This is about the difference between speech which holds and speech which assaults.

Speech which holds is helpful for life; and speech which assaults, like leaking sewage, is unhelpful.

Speech which assaults sounds like this.

‘I just hope you know that even though I’m discussing this with you, I will do whatever I want, you won’t change that.’

Or, ‘Have you noticed that every time we argue, you become completely irrational? I don’t know why I bother.’

Such speech escalates the argument, sprinkles petrol on the fire. It is a form of communication that kills communication; it’s non-engagement.

It’s a potent weapon to use, of course, and feels wonderful for three seconds. But it’s like screwing for virginity and it’s delivered by the terrified, by those who fear dialogue.

Speech which holds does something quite different: it puts a fence around the damage being done. It acts like a fire-break in the forest, a protective wall in the storm.

Though spoken from the fight, it knows a world beyond the fight… and might sound something like this:

‘I know we’re clashing now and that combat is intense, but I do want something to work out here; I want something to arise from this warfare. I do care about you - and I appreciate you’re struggling, as I’m struggling.’

Tense moments, explosive moments of such strong feeling, they come around - whether it’s discussing Brexit, religion… or the way your partner washes up.

Holding speech which puts in safe boundaries, lowers arousal and eases anxiety; speech which from the battlefield sees beyond the battlefield…

...it’s a sort of genius.

 
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