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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2000 2:41 am 
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as suggested in another thread, let's discuss strength of personality or presence. i believe this is part of the point of verbal self defense, to project an air of quiet strength that discourages others from starting or prolonging confrontations.

a quick example that demonstrates the need:
in my profession, i sometimes advocate for disabled clients, who cannot speak for themselves. last winter (before i learned better skills) i was forced to confront my employers about a new policy which clearly violated client's rights, but saved the agency money. in the end, my objections were heard and heeded, but not until i suggested that a letter to the agency board about the new policy was in order.

even though i had tried for months to solve the problem with reason and logic, i still felt like i resorted to the "i'm tellin daddy" method of problem solving. of course, after my supervisor threatened to fire me, she decided i was right and all is "nice" now, but people don't generally forget being backed into a corner. these are only two of the disadvantages of using clumsy or heavy-handed defensive tactics.

so how do we project a presence that prevents most confrontations, and settles them quickly when they occur?

yona (still a guppy...)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2000 6:10 pm 
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Yona asks:
"How do we project a presence that prevents most confrontations, and settles them quickly when they occur?"

I don't think there is any more important question in verbal self-defense than that one; I suspect that it's the most important question in other martial arts as well. It's a very _hard_ question. If we are to get anywhere with it, I'll need help -- questions and feedback -- from you; I can't do it by myself.

Ed Parker has defined this kind of presence as being "so strong inside" that you have no need to demonstrate your power. Joe Hyams writes that "The Chinese word for this kind of confidence is _sai_, which can also be defined as 'presence'. It is a byproduct of self-confidence and is instantly recognizable in any situation." [Source for both items is page 133 of Joe Hyams' book _Zen in the Martial Arts_.] Sai cannot be faked.

If you have no objections, I'd like to use that Chinese word -- sai -- in our discussion; it would save time. I am of the opinion that if you have "language" sai you will also have "physical" sai, but I may be wrong about that; for the moment, let's use the phrase "language sai" for this discussion and set aside (temporarily) the question of whether it can be divided from physical sai or not. We'll come back to that question later.

Having language sai means, I think, two things:

(1) You know -- beyond all question -- that no matter what sort of language moves another person might make against you, you will be capable of dealing with those moves in a way that is honorable and that will bring you respect.

(2) Anyone who interacts with you can _see/hear/feel_ that you are a person who has language sai.

This second characteristic, which is an automatic result of the first one, may not keep people from challenging you at least once. It _should_, but it won't. The world is filled with people who feel obligated to bang their heads against brick walls, and the more sai you have, the more attractive the act of challenging you will be to such people. Demonstrating how to deal with them is a public service that will be required of you.

In verbal self-defense you have an advantage with regard to sai that you don't have in the physical martial arts: You are _already_ an expert in your language, and your expert knowledge of how to use your language is _already_ stored in your long term memory. All verbal self-defense techniques do is put you in touch with knowledge that you already have and make it possible for you to make deliberate conscious use of that knowledge.

This ought to mean that you already have abundant -- and justified -- self-confidence. Most people in the U.S., unfortunately, have been sold a bill of shoddy goods about their expert status with their language. I constantly hear intelligent people say things like, "I don't know any grammar; I've never been any good at it" and "I'm lousy at grammar, I always got Cs in English." If they were speaking accurately, they would say, "I'm not good at taking the grammar tests our educational system gives, but I am an expert in my native language." That is the truth -- and it's independent of the grades you get in "English" (or any other language in which you have native fluency). As long as you allow yourself to be misled into believing that the way you demonstrate mastery of your language is by passing written tests in it, it will be impossible -- by definition -- for you to have sai. You will doubt yourself, you will lack confidence, and you will be unsure of your abilities. The first step toward sai, therefore, is to get past this specific misunderstanding.

I'll wait for your responses before saying anything more.

Suzette


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2000 8:36 pm 
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I missed this thread when it first appeared. I believe the forum web server was acting up for a couple of days. Anyway, I thought the subject deserved another run at top spot!

Anyone see a relationship to the famous fight 'interview' here?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2000 9:39 pm 
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It took me a second or two to process "famous fight 'interview;'" I was having mental images of Howard Cosell....

Actually, I'd like to go back to one thing in the original post " feeling like 'I'm telling Daddy.'"

What is necessarily wrong with that?

In the scenario posed it may well have been the only thing to do possible.

We are given the facts that Yona tried to use logic about the situation for some time and was frustrated until she resorted to using the power of another, e.g., the letter to the agency.

We do not always have the power inherent in ourselves, by ourselves, to cope with another's attack. But if we have the intelligence to find where another's power may be used, it seems to me that we have used the principles of both VSD and those of Kano O Sensei.

As to the particular question of strength of personality - I see it as a gift you give the other person or withhold from him/her. It's your reaction that gives her/him the strength, isn't it?

student


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2000 10:31 pm 
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In Business whenever we deal with managers, as in any other situation where we deal with a person in a position of authority, there are two types of relationships: one is a partnership where both cooperate and collaborate towards achieving the organizations goals. In this scenario I am assuming that both individuals are competent and do not let their "egos" interfere in their relationship. In this scenario, sometimes the managers are wrong and sometimes the subordinates are wrong. What is important is that there is mutual respect.

The second and unfortunately most common situation is where the manager "pulls rank" on the subordinate in their daily relationship and may not be even realize that they are stifling the creativity and initiative of their subordinate. What should we do in this situation? We can put up with it and suffer frustration and discomfort. Or we can face it by trying to talk to the supervisor and make him/her understand the issues. If this does not help, we can talk to a "friendly" person in the hierarchy of the organization knowing that this person will inform the supervisor's manager. Or we can ask the supervisor and his manager for a meeting and face the situation straight on. All these alternatives assume that you are a valuable resource to the organization and they will not want to see you leave. Uechi-Ryu training has given me the courage to face these problems multiple times in my 25 years career and not only survived every instance but prosper thereafter.

Enrique


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2000 7:23 am 
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Thank you for addressing this. I found a lot to ponder in these "threads" here... This is my first time looking in here, and replying for that matter. My question is, with all the wonderful information given... I have found that, although I can avoid "verbal confrontations" better now, (thank you to my Sensei Steve Morgan) I still have yet to know how to handle the feelings those situations provoak. When I am faced with an angery confrontational person, or family member, I can avoid the "fight" with the right words, or lack ther-of, but I still "feel" the anger and or hurt. I am hoping to find a better understanding of that question, within my brown belt year...comming quickly... (YEA!!!!)
I "feel" everything, as I think most women do. We are emotional creatures, "emotional" meant in respect...not derogetorily... does anyone have any "tricks" on what to do with such raging emotions within us, when faced with such conflict?
I have a lot to learn yet huh... *smiling*
Kerry

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ozarque:

Yona asks:
"How do we project a presence that prevents most confrontations, and settles them quickly when they occur?"

I don't think there is any more important question in verbal self-defense than that one; I suspect that it's the most important question in other martial arts as well. It's a very _hard_ question. If we are to get anywhere with it, I'll need help -- questions and feedback -- from you; I can't do it by myself.

Ed Parker has defined this kind of presence as being "so strong inside" that you have no need to demonstrate your power. Joe Hyams writes that "The Chinese word for this kind of confidence is _sai_, which can also be defined as 'presence'. It is a byproduct of self-confidence and is instantly recognizable in any situation." [Source for both items is page 133 of Joe Hyams' book _Zen in the Martial Arts_.] Sai cannot be faked.

If you have no objections, I'd like to use that Chinese word -- sai -- in our discussion; it would save time. I am of the opinion that if you have "language" sai you will also have "physical" sai, but I may be wrong about that; for the moment, let's use the phrase "language sai" for this discussion and set aside (temporarily) the question of whether it can be divided from physical sai or not. We'll come back to that question later.

Having language sai means, I think, two things:

(1) You know -- beyond all question -- that no matter what sort of language moves another person might make against you, you will be capable of dealing with those moves in a way that is honorable and that will bring you respect.

(2) Anyone who interacts with you can _see/hear/feel_ that you are a person who has language sai.

This second characteristic, which is an automatic result of the first one, may not keep people from challenging you at least once. It _should_, but it won't. The world is filled with people who feel obligated to bang their heads against brick walls, and the more sai you have, the more attractive the act of challenging you will be to such people. Demonstrating how to deal with them is a public service that will be required of you.

In verbal self-defense you have an advantage with regard to sai that you don't have in the physical martial arts: You are _already_ an expert in your language, and your expert knowledge of how to use your language is _already_ stored in your long term memory. All verbal self-defense techniques do is put you in touch with knowledge that you already have and make it possible for you to make deliberate conscious use of that knowledge.

This ought to mean that you already have abundant -- and justified -- self-confidence. Most people in the U.S., unfortunately, have been sold a bill of shoddy goods about their expert status with their language. I constantly hear intelligent people say things like, "I don't know any grammar; I've never been any good at it" and "I'm lousy at grammar, I always got Cs in English." If they were speaking accurately, they would say, "I'm not good at taking the grammar tests our educational system gives, but I am an expert in my native language." That is the truth -- and it's independent of the grades you get in "English" (or any other language in which you have native fluency). As long as you allow yourself to be misled into believing that the way you demonstrate mastery of your language is by passing written tests in it, it will be impossible -- by definition -- for you to have sai. You will doubt yourself, you will lack confidence, and you will be unsure of your abilities. The first step toward sai, therefore, is to get past this specific misunderstanding.

I'll wait for your responses before saying anything more.

Suzette

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2000 12:37 pm 
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Van talks about the emotional damage that occurs when a person (especially a man) avoids a physical fight by walking away from it or talks his way out of it. In our culture, men are raised to believe they must protect themselves and families when faced with danger. If the danger includes foul language or 'touching', the man feels inferior if he doesn't punish the offenders physically.

Should the man talk his way out of this situation, he may suffer the consequences for years.

Any thoughts on this subject?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2000 2:53 pm 
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my thoughts on both kerry and gmattson's comments are that clearly a "reframing" is in order. our thoughts determine our feelings. consider:

i was driving one day, in a hurry and feeling a bit agitated because of previous events of the day. in my rearview mirror i noticed a police car. my heart began to pound, and i began an internal dialogue. "oh great! now, on top of everything else, i'm going to get a ticket! i'm so frustrated - what a lousy day..." etc, etc.

only thing was, it wasn't a police car, it was a station wagon (and yes, i do wear glasses while driving...) my perception determined my thoughts, determined my feelings.

i laughed at myself, and realized what i was doing. many other things went wrong that day, but they just made me laugh some more. if it was going to be a "bad day" i might as well survive it with a smile. my thoughts determined my feelings.

if you accept that the brute in a confrontation is the "winner," you accept that you are the "loser" because you can't, (or won't) outdo him in brutish, crude or physical behavior.

if you reframe, the winner is the one who maintains his position/principles without resorting to brutish behavior. the other one is the unfortunate person who is unable to communicate his ideas and stand his ground without threatening and frightening everyone around him. of course, best case scenario, you have a discussion between two winners and all remains civil and calm.

has it ever occurred to you that if someone has a good point or a defendable position they shouldn't need to shout about it, since it should stand on its own merits?

yona


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2000 12:07 am 
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MHO,

...the emotional damage that occurs when a person (especially a man) avoids a physical fight by walking away from it or talks his way out of it...

True, but only if you believe that you have lost your battle by so doing. It is just as possible to believe you have won your battle by walking away or avoiding it. It depends on the situation and your interpretation of the situation. There is no absolute.

------------------
Duane


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2000 2:06 am 
It takes a strong person to back out of a fight. And although he knows he is the stronger of the two, no one else has even a clue, and he will have to live with the ridicule of his classmates for months to come. If he has pushed past the edge of his internal will to back off, then the peer-jeers to follow will either strengthen him or crush him.

But if he can't back out, he has to fight with the fires of the gods, because he is the rabbit.



------------------
Allen, New website http://www.ury2k.com/pulse/index.htm mirror: http://home.ici.net/~uechi/


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2000 11:52 am 
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Back down with Uechi-ryu? Isn't that why we study it so we don't have to?

1967 Boston Tech, gym class: Steve Dolan in sit-up line. Does his sit-ups. Tells gym teacher "125". Ya right Dolan, get the F*** outta here. "No I did them I'll do them again." (The rest of the class averaged about 20) Dolan does them while the teacher watches: "125"
Me: Who is that guy?
1968 West Roxbury on the corner. Steve Dolan walks by. Hey how's it going? He hangs out for a while. One of the kids has a gun. Steve "Don't waste your time with that, study Uechi!" Who? Steve tries several scenarios with the gun kid drawing on him. Steve easily takes it away each time. Steve leaves. We ask, Hey why didn't you try to do it fast: gun kid "I did!" Good thing it wasn't loaded: gun kid "It was!" editor: Don't try this at home.
Me: Who is that guy?

1968 High School. Football team Captain bumps into Steve Dolan, they shove back and forth. Captain, "After school Dolan, I'm going to kick your F***** A**" After school 1000 kids show up. Captain appears, approaches Dolan "I'm sorry about this morning. I hope there are no hard feelings." They shake hands. Captain walks away, silence.
Me: Who is that guy?
Next day. Me "Hey Steve what is Uechi?" Steve: Blah, Blah, Blah, Here is a card for a complimentary lesson with Mr. Mattson on Cambridge St, Beacon Hill.
Football Captain and Steve seem to be best friends when they pass in the hall.
Me: Hello Mr. Mattson.

I don't know the reason or mechanics of it but it looked to me like a case of:
If you can't beat 'em join 'em!
Mike


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2000 7:17 pm 
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(1)
A student writes:
"As to the particular question of strength of personality -- I see it as a gift you give the other person or withhold from him/her. It's your reaction that gives her/him the strength, isn't it?"

I'm sorry. This is interesting. But I don't understand the question, nor do I understand the concept of strength of personality as a gift to give or withhold. Could you clarify what you mean for me a bit?


(2)
Mitman writes that there are two kinds of managers -- those who cooperate with employees as in a partnership, and those who compete with their employees by pulling rank (perhaps without being consciously aware that that's counterproductive). Mitman asks "What should we do in this (second) situation?" and then offers a set of possible answers: put up with the manager's behavior, in resentment and frustration; raise the manger's consciousness by explaining; go over the manager's head and make a complaint; call a meeting and make a complaint. Mitman says that Uechi-Ryu training has made it possible for him to deal with this problem successfully.

Mitman has answered his question. In the context of this thread, however, I would like to comment.

Employee who have sai -- strength of personality, presence -- will not ordinarily find managers pulling rank and competing with them in this fashion; that is the normal effect of sai. There are two exceptions.

One is when the manager perceives the employee with sai as a threat, and feels obliged to bluster and throw his/her weight around in response to that perception. This is standard Blaming behavior; it's exhibited by people who are themselves insecure and frightened, and who constantly test their own perception that they have _no_ power by pretending that they have lots of it. Paying attention to such behavior rewards it and encourages the Blamer to do it again.

The other is when a manager who has sai perceives that the employee has sai also and decides to challenge him/her either as sport -- because it would be fun to spar with such a person -- or to find out how well the employee can deal with the challenge, as a kind of test. In a case like this, the employee has to decide whether to accept the challenge, based on the circumstances at the time. Such a challenge may be a nuisance, and may be dangerous, but it is always a compliment.


(3)
Kerry Jolly wants to know what to do when, although you are perfectly capable of avoiding verbal confrontations, you have trouble dealing with the resulting emotions. She says that when faced with an angry confrontational person she can "avoid the 'fight' with the right words, or lack thereof" but still feels the anger or hurt.

First, Kerry, let's assume that avoiding the confrontation is the appropriate response to the other person. In that case, you need to get rid of the negative emotions instead of carrying them around with you; you need to take out the verbal trash. The best way to do that is to literally get it out of your system. Write a letter to the person who tried to fight with you, in which you write down every single one of the negative things you refrained from saying at the time of the interaction; read the letter over to be sure that it expresses your feelings fully; then destroy the letter. If writing isn't comfortable for you, get a tape recorder and say what you would have written in the letter; listen to the recording to be sure it expresses your feelings fully; then erase or destroy the tape. If words aren't your thing, you can draw or dance your feelings (or use whatever other medium is best for you) until they're no longer trash stored in your head. This is good for you; there's abundant evidence for that.

Second, I wonder about the source of the negative emotions; it may come from a misunderstanding. In your head, there's something called "the amygdala," which is always on duty scanning for danger. It can literally bypass the reasoning part of your brain and cause it to send out the neurotransmitters that go with anger and/or hurt, without any thought as to whether the anger and hurt make sense. This was tremendously valuable to human beings in the days when we were up against saber-tooth tigers; you had to react without thinking because there wasn't _time_ to think. It's not valuable against most of the dangers we face today, especially the verbal dangers.

The amygdala will only kick in when it perceives something as dangerous to you. Think about how you react when a two-year-old child runs at you and starts pounding on you with its tiny fists; you don't feel an instant reaction of fear and rage and hurt -- you don't feel forced to choose between fighting and fleeing -- you know the little one is no threat. Most of the time, people (of any age) who come at you with abusive language are much like that toddler. They're not trying to hurt you, and they're not a danger to you. _They're confronting you because they're hungry for human attention and have learned that picking a fight is one reliable way to get some._ When you know that -- when you know that what you're facing is someone who is a klutz rather than a threat -- you are more likely to feel compassion than anger or hurt.


(4)
George Mattison writes that men in our culture "are raised to believe that they must protect their families and themselves when faced with danger. If the danger includes foul language or 'touching,' the man feels inferior if he doesn't punish the offenders physically. Should the man talk his way out of this situation, he may suffer the consequences for years. Any thoughts on this subject?"

I'm not a man; I can't speak with authority about men. George _is_ a man, and therefore knows whereof he speaks. He says that men who don't respond physically to threats that include foul language or 'touching' feel inferior; he says that men who respond to such threats verbally instead of physically "may suffer the consequences for years." (I assume the consequences he refers to are the consequences of feeling shamed, and perhaps of being perceived by others as someone who has been shamed -- both internal punishment and external, therefore.)

There are two contexts in which I hear men say what George is saying. One is with male batterers, many of whom insist that they hit women and children and weaker men only because that's what -- as men -- they _have_ to do. It's required of them, they claim; it's their duty as men; they have no choice. The fault, they claim, lies with those who've put them into that bind where a physical response is the only one allowed to a man. The other context is with street kids who tell me that if they're dissed they have no choice -- they _must_ respond physically, perhaps with extreme or even deadly force. This, they tell me, is required of them, as men. ... This is where accepting this position regarding manhood and manliness leads.

Comment: I've known perhaps a dozen men who are _really_ deadly, who have been Green Berets or have had other Special Forces training -- men you'd be unwise to mess with. They're very quiet men; you never find them sitting around with other men giving descriptions of how dangerous they are and how scared everybody ought to be of them. I've never seen any of them respond physically to confrontation -- I've never known any of them to feel a _need_ to respond physically. In my experience, the less a man feels obliged to respond physically to threats, the more skilled he is likely to be at such responses. When a man is genuinely competent to defend himself -- in my opinion -- the sai that he projects, his presence, is more than enough; he does not have to do anything physical.


(5)
Yona asks if it has occurred to us that "if someone has a good point or a defendable position they shouldn't need to shout about it, since it should stand on its own merits?" I agree. Absolutely. But they do have to have the communications skills that will make it possible for them to _demonstrate_ that they have a good point or a defendable position. Or they have to have the kind of sai that makes people willing to accept their points and positions on faith alone.


Suzette


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2000 7:24 pm 
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Interesting discussion. I'm not sure of the sources, but I've heard many times,

"I train in karate so I can 'choose' not to fight. If I cannot defend myself, I don't have a choice..."

Re: Kerry Jolly's response,
I would suggest you don't look at any "confrontation" as a win/lose situation but as an opportunity for growth. In any given situation, we have the ability to find the opportunity for self growth. You can learn much about yourself through confrontation. What is it about the confrontation that makes you feel uncomfortable? If you can face these types of questions genuinely, you can learn more about yourself and gain better control over your responses. You can then turn the situation around and see what is going on inside the other individual that is causing him/her to express anger toward you and diffuse the situation through either reframing or a type of reflective response. Anytime an individual is angry and projecting their anger outward, there is a lot of information they are presenting about themselves. This can all be used to your advantage. You don't want to be confrontational (unless that is your strategy) but rather 'move with' the attack - as is done in the martial arts. Hard against soft / soft against hard (generally speaking). If you are presented a "hard" attack, it is best (at least to begin with) to deal with it in a "soft" manner if you want to control it.

Student said it well with: "It's your reaction that gives her/him the strength, isn't it?" It's also true that your attacker can provide clues and give you strength with their attacks and responses.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2000 7:43 pm 
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Not to beat this to death, but...

Something another karateka had shared with me one time came up in my mind after typing the last response.

He had mentioned that at his work, an individual had thrown a high side kick within an inch of another individuals nose. I don't recall the circumstances but I believe it was simply a "show off" gesture. A "hard" or confrontational response might be "try that with me..." a softer response might be "wow, that's good." Obviously he was looking for an ego boost. Why contend with his poor self-image? Give him what he wants, avoid the confrontation, and walk away. Who is controlling the situation?

If an individual came up to me and said, "I'll bet I can kick your ass..." I would gladly reply with "I'll bet you can, I better not mess with you..." I don't personally feel I'm losing face, actually, I feel the other individual is. He is communicating a lot about himself with such a statement. I simply want to end the confrontation before it begins.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2000 8:09 pm 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ozarque:

(1)
A student writes:
"As to the particular question of strength of personality -- I see it as a gift you give the other person or withhold from him/her. It's your reaction that gives her/him the strength, isn't it?"

I'm sorry. This is interesting. But I don't understand the question, nor do I understand the concept of strength of personality as a gift to give or withhold. Could you clarify what you mean for me a bit?

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Strength of personality is not a constant. It is a variable, a communication between the parties. Its perception is at least so important as the actual "strength of personality."

If D (defender) chooses to accept that the personality of A (attacker) is strong or threatening, I see that D has given A a gift of that belief in A's strength.

D's reaction either enhances and enforces A's "strength of personality" or ignores and negates it.

IMHO

Hope that's clearer. And thank you for continuing on with us; I admire how you're able to concisely respond to each of us in your once/twice-a-week posts. Bravo.

Or should that be brava?

student



[This message has been edited by student (edited March 23, 2000).]


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