Protecting Yourself from Verbal Assaults
By Michelle Burford
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the March 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
It comes out of the blue—a catty remark, a veiled put-down, a blatant backstab. So, what’s the best defense against wolves in sheep’s clothing?
Near the top of my list of annoyances—right there under people who leave really long voice mails but don’t give a calback number—is a mega-peeve: Engaging in catfights. I don’t even like to think about them, so please allow me to boil my last near-rumble-in-the-ring down to short scenes. First: I find myself utterly bored, so I start a book club with friends. After three sessions of patchy participation, I throw out provocative questions just to crank up the debate. A week later, reports hit the girl-gossip chain that I’m a know-it-all who should be “dethroned.” I realize whose campaign this is (she and I have history) and chuck it in the bin marked: Ignore This. Until the meeting when, as I’m exiting my living room to refill the bowl of stale popcorn, Suspect Number One says (she thinks out of earshot), “Yes, please go—we could use one less smart-ass in the world.”