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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Toxic Language & Violent Communication

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Hi, everyone. In today's lesson we're going to look at the language of toxic people and

the things that they say. This is the kind of language we use when... Perhaps we don't

realize it, but by saying these things we can start arguments, and we can say these

things and people will become angry with us. Another way of explaining toxic language is

to say: "Violent communication". I've shortened the word "communication", there. This was

an area of study, you could say, by a man called Marshall Rosenberg. So if you're interested

in the things I'm talking about in this lesson, you can go search for the area of violent

communication, and you can learn more about it, because the whole philosophy, I suppose,

is how we can change the language that we use so that we can have more healthy communication

with other people, and that way we don't have so many arguments and we have a more peaceful

life at home.

So I've got different kinds of violent communication, and I'm going to go through them one by one,

explaining as I go. First I'll just read you the list of the different kinds of violent

communication. Blaming others, threats, shoulds, labelling, black-and-white thinking, guilt-tripping,

diagnosing, emasculation, and uncalled-for advice.

I'll start with blaming. "Blaming" is when in your life you do not take any responsibility

for your problems. Everything that happens to you is always somebody else's fault. So,

a person who blames other people would say something like: "You make me so angry." To

use the verb "make", and to say: "You make me" is not taking responsibility for ourselves

being angry. Another way we could say the... Say a similar thing is to say: "I am angry."

But instead, we blame it all on that person. It's not the thing that happened, it's because

of you. Next we've got: "It's all your fault." Imagine something goes wrong, there's been

a personal crisis going on in your family or something, and your dad says to you: "It's

all your fault. Absolutely everything that went wrong here is because of you." All the

blame goes on to you." Obviously it's not a very nice thing to experience. We know that

in life things are rarely all just caused by one person, especially in a family, there's...

The way a family operates is: "You did this and I did this", so we can see it's more complicated

in most situations than all being one person's fault. So this expression, saying that to

someone is usually an exaggeration as well, because if somebody says that, in most cases,

it's not true. It's not all their fault, maybe some of it was. Next we've got: "You're driving

me crazy." This is something that perhaps a mother would say if she has some young children,

maybe she has a 2-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 5-year-old and they're all making lots

of noise when they're playing, she can say: "Shut up! You're driving me crazy!" And, again,

she's not taking responsibility for her own stress and her own feelings of craziness;

she's blaming it on them. They are doing the action to her. They are driving her crazy.

Let's look at threats now. A "threat" is when you let someone know if they do that something

bad will happen, or you will make something bad happen, or there will be a bad consequence

if they do that thing. And the reason you give a threat is you want to stop that person

doing it. So here's an example: "If you don't get out of bed now, we're going without you."

I imagine this situation, a teenage boy who doesn't want to wake up. It's Saturday morning,

11 o'clock, he's happy to sleep in til 1pm, maybe 2pm, and his parents want him to get

up so he can go and see the grandparents with them. They might try and threaten him by saying:

"If you don't get out of bed now, we're going without you." In the situation I described,

maybe he wouldn't care... Maybe the teenage boy wouldn't care that much about that particular

threat, it depends. Next example: "If you don't eat your vegetables, you can't have

dessert." A lot of parents say that to their kids as a sort of threat, but similar to a

bribe, where they want the child to eat something healthy, and they don't know how to get the

child to eat the healthy thing, so they have to use other ways in their language, or they

feel that they must use other ways in their language. They don't know how to communicate

in a reasonable and peaceful way to get the child to eat vegetables, so they just feel

a bit stressed and they say: "If you don't eat your vegetables, you're not getting dessert."

And kids who are very much motivated by sweet things, ice cream and things like that, they

might decide to eat their vegetables so that they can get the ice cream after.

Let's look at shoulds now. A "should", we can make a sentence using "should", and when

we do that, we're telling other people how they should live their lives. We can also

use shoulds on ourselves, which is a... Which is one of the ways we can talk to ourselves

in toxic ways. For example, we can say to someone: "You should be sorry." You're telling

them how they should be feeling, how they should be living their lives. You don't know

what happened in their experience, but you're telling them how to feel. We've got: "He should

work harder at school." That's perhaps something a parent would say to their child who didn't

get a very good result. And then we've got: "You should help me more around the house."

Again, that's something that a parent might say to a child, or it could be a wife would

say to a husband, or a husband would say to a wife. Instead of saying: "Can you help me

out around the house by doing some more cleaning?" which is a more peaceful way of saying that,

you say: "You should help me more around the house", and people don't like that kind of

language because it feels more like an order or you're telling them what to do. You're

not so much giving them... You're not sharing how you feel. If you share how you feel in

a peaceful way, they might want to help you more.

Next we've got labelling. "Labelling" is when you've decided in your head what another person

is like, and we often do this with our family members. And sometimes family members keep

the label that they had for you since when you were a child, and they don't change it.

And you're 20 years old, and they still label you the same; you're 30 years old, they still

label you the same, and it can be frustrating, it can be upsetting because you... If they

do that to you, you feel like they don't really know you. They're just already decided who

you are, but it could be that you've changed a lot since they gave you that label. So the

problem with labelling is that you fix someone in a... You put them in a box, and you've

decided how they are and that's that. So here are some examples. Perhaps a parent says to

a friend, talking about her child: "Oh, she's the clever one in the family." And perhaps

that sounds like a compliment in a way. She's clever. Well, isn't it good to be clever?

In one sense, yes, but if the other child is standing there next to her, that makes

the other one feel not intelligent. And also, if you label someone as being "that one",

"She's the clever one", that's like making that person the odd one out, the one that

doesn't belong with the other people in the family. So it can be... If you're always doing

that to a person, it can make them feel like they don't belong and being the odd one out.

Another example, I imagine here a parent who is in a sense making an excuse for their child's

behaviour, and by that I'm not saying it's right or wrong for a child not want... Not

wanting to interact with all adults and be confident, and be like an extraverted child,

always talking, I'm not saying that's right or wrong; I'm saying that when a parent feels

that they have to comment on the behaviour of their child because they're not talking

by saying something, like: "Oh, he's shy." What they're doing there is... It's a bit

like excusing, making an excuse, but also in that sense limiting their child by keep...

If you keep telling someone that they're shy, then in a way it will become true. Or perhaps

someone was quiet then for other reasons, not because they were feeling shy, it was

just because they didn't have something to say. But then when your parent says: "Oh,

you're shy", that can become true, then, and it can make it harder for you to speak later.

And the last one: "Angela is a spoiled brat." That's a more obvious kind of labelling which

is negative. That's like... "A brat" is someone who is usually a young person who behaves

in a very immature way. And we normally say it: "spoiled brat", you keep giving them toys,

you keep spending money on them but they're never happy and they don't have very good

manners. So if I say: "Angela is a spoiled brat", that's me labelling her in a way as

if that's the way she always behaves, there's nothing nice about her, and it's... Obviously

it's not very kind words to say to someone or about someone. Maybe it's true, but if

we always focus on the worst things about other people, we will not see the good sides

of them ever. So, coming up next I've got more examples.

Now we have black-and-white thinking. A person who is in the habit of doing "black-and-white

thinking" always thinks a situation is 100% good and great, or the worst thing ever in

the world. And those kind of people tend to also really, really love someone or really,

really hate someone, and it will swing in between. They don't really ever see the middle

ground in the idea, in the situation. So, black-and-white thinking, the way we show

that in language if often by using the words "always" or "never". Here's an example: "You're

always late. Come on, hurry up." If we think about it, is that person late every single

time they go somewhere? Perhaps not, probably not. I mean, I do know people who seem to

be always late, but there must be exceptions sometimes when they're not. Another example,

here: "You never help me around the house." That would mean: "I do everything myself,

and you just use all my work and you just make me tired, like the slave of washing and

cleaning everything", where in reality it is probably true that they do something, right?

Maybe they help washing the clothes or washing the dishes or something, so it's not very

reasonable language. If you actually want someone to help you more, accusing them of

never helping you, in many cases will make the person not want to help you that day,

at least that day with the housework that you have to do. And here's another example:

"You always mess everything up!" Now, that kind of thing, obviously it's not nice to

hear if somebody says that about you, but I think that kind of thing is a really damaging

thing for a child to hear. If a child... Let's say you've got a clumsy child that spills

drinks or breaks cups, they're not doing it on purpose, but they don't have very good

coordination. If you say something like that to them: "You're always dropping things",

then they will lose their self-esteem, really, about things. So if you say: "You always mess

everything up", not only do we have "always", which means every time you do something; we

also have "everything", every single thing you do is a big mess, is a disaster. So we

have extra exaggeration in this example.

Let's look now at "guilt-tripping", or another way to explain that is to say "covert manipulation".

If something is covert, it means it's not obvious; it's hard to see at first. You need

advanced skills in understanding people to realize that they're playing with you, or

playing with your emotions. So let's look at these examples. Imagine you're... Okay,

the first image that comes into my head for that situation is a wife who's cooked dinner

for her husband and he comes in late, and he told her he was going to be back for dinner

at 8 o'clock, but he didn't come back until half past 9, she might say: "There's no point

eating this now. I'll put it in the bin", as if it's... "It's ruined. I did all that

for you and now it's cold. I left it here til you got back just so you could see it,

but now I think it's best I put it in the bin. You obviously didn't want it anyway."

The next example is: "Your mother is upset because you did badly in the exam." Let's

imagine a situation where mom's a bit angry, maybe she's doing some stomping around, closing

cupboards loudly, huffing, that kind of thing. This is when dad gets in on the action to

blame the child in this situation for mom's stress and bad mood." So they're in a team,

here. "Your mother is upset because you did badly in the exam." So even for... I suppose

it depends on the exam, but even for relatively small things, like a school test or whatever,

some manipulators will decide to use that thing which they're not happy about, and they'll

get stressed and they'll do things like slamming doors to show you they're angry or upset,

rather than say: "Oh, I'm disappointed that you didn't try harder in the exam." They want

to just show you that they're upset to, in a way, frighten you or guilt trip you to work

harder next time. Another example is: "Oh, the poor dog hasn't been out today. Oh, don't

you want to go for a walkies? Poor doggy." Now, of course, what they really mean there

for another person to hear is: "Oh, I would like you to take the dog for a walk now. I

would like you to do it. Not me, I would like you to do it." So instead of saying that,

they talk about the poor dog, the sad dog, the unfortunate dog, and they say: "He hasn't

been out today", because they want you to say: "Oh, right, I'll do it now."

The next example is diagnosing. "Diagnosing" is when you consider yourself to be a psychologist

and you know everything about that person, so you use it in your language of talking

to them, either accusing them or excusing them for their behaviour because you know

so much about them, and the thing that describes their personality or the thing that's wrong

with them. So let's look at this example. Imagine you're in a relationship and there's

problems in your relationship sometimes, and what you really want in your head is to be

closer in that relationship or spend more time with that person, perhaps you would accuse

them of being a commitment-phobe. "Commitment-phobe", this is a kind of person who needs a lot of

space in the relationship, never wants to get serious, never wants to get married, never

wants to have kids. Perhaps they change their mind about being in the relationship a lot.

If you are frustrated with that person, and because you diagnose them to be this way because

of a problem, you could say: "This is all because you're a commitment-phobe." Next we've

got: "You're an actual sociopath!" When we say "actual" here it means, like, real and

it also is a way to emphasize, calling someone a sociopath. It makes it stronger in that

way. And it's also quite conversation... Conversational to say: "actual". So, what's a sociopath?

Some of you might not know it. It's like a person who will tell any lie so that they

can get what they want. They'll use other people so that they can get their own needs

met, so for money, for sex, whatever it is that drives them, the sociopath has no conscience.

So, sociopaths tend to be either crazy people in prison, criminals; or very, very good sociopaths

tend to be our politicians and that's because they don't feel guilty about lying. And the

next one here is... This is an example of a parent saying... Having diagnosed their

child, they say: "You can't concentrate because of your ADHD." So, there's a situation, perhaps

the child is not really listening, or not really doing its homework like the parent

wants the child to, so what they say is... They see that behaviour, and they just make

this whole excuse for it, and they label the child and tell the child how to behave. "You

can't. Impossible. Impossible for you. You can't concentrate because of your ADHD." Now,

some of you might not know what that is. That stands for "attention deficit"... "Attention

Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder", and in places like the USA and the U.K. and probably other

western countries as well, kids that are diagnosed to have this are often prescribed prescription

medication, such as Ritalin, to help them concentrate in school. So these are kids that

struggle to pay attention in school, and are often more defiant with the teachers and get

in more trouble at school. So, a parent might... Or the doctors might diagnose... I think in

this situation the doctors would diagnose the child, or the teachers would diagnose

the child as having ADHD, but then the parent takes that and then they're always saying

it. "This is because of your ADHD. This is because of your ADHD", and in that way there's

no responsibility on the parent anymore for their parenting skills; it's not their fault,

all the bad behaviour of the child. And also it's not the fault of the child either; the

child can't help it, the child has ADHD.

Now let's look at emasculation. "Emasculation" means when a man is attacked in a way to make

him less manly. So, to take away his confidence in himself as a man. Here are some examples:

"You look so gay in that t-shirt." This would be said to someone who wasn't actually gay

and didn't want to look as if they were gay by wearing a t-shirt that looked gay. Perhaps

his girlfriend, if she wanted to get some power over him and feel... Feel bigger and

make him feel bad, she might say that: "You look so gay in that t-shirt." And then probably

what he'll do... Perhaps not right away in the next five minutes, but within the next

hour or so he'll change the t-shirt and he'll come out. Maybe not right away. Next example,

this one is much more indirect. Let's say you're a girl and you're with your boyfriend,

and you say to him: "There was a tall, handsome doctor in the hospital", you've just come

out of the hospital. "And this doctor was so handsome. He was at least 6 foot 4. Gorgeous

doctor." Meanwhile your boyfriend next to you is not some tall, handsome, sporty kind

of guy, so the fact that you talk about that other man as if he's the ultimate of all men

is a way of making your boyfriend feel small and less manly.

And finally we get to "uncalled-for advice". This means when you go to someone and you

give them advice that they didn't ask you for, it can be really annoying. This happens

to me a lot, being on YouTube. I think it happens to a lot of women on YouTube as well,

because in the comments section people think that they are helping you with the things

that they write. They can tell you things about your technical situation, they can tell

you about... Men and women will leave these kinds of comments. They'll tell you about

the clothes you are wearing. And one of the ones that sticks in my mind was that I'd gave...

I'd given a presentation, and the video was up about this presentation, and somebody left

a comment saying about how I was dressed: "You should wear pearls"-a pearl necklace-"so

that people believe you more". And what... They were trying to help me, I guess, but

they thought that I wasn't smart enough and I didn't look right to give the presentation,

but their advice was: "If only I wear pearls, that way people will believe me", because

you can't possibly believe the things that a woman is saying unless she's wearing pearls,

and you can't take her seriously. So that's just one example of uncalled-for advice, but

it happens a lot.

So, we've got lots of examples of violent communication there, toxic things that people

say. I think, if we're honest with ourselves, we all say things like this sometimes. So

what we need to do is just be conscious of that, try and reduce it, if we want to, if

we can, because these kind of things... When we say this to people it's a way of making

our relationships unhealthy and having more problems, so it's good for me, it's good for

you if we become more aware of our language in these ways. What I've also got is a lesson

on being passive aggressive, this is related to this kind of video. I think you should

go and watch that one now. Thanks for watching, and see ya later. Bye.

The Description of Toxic Language & Violent Communication