... Can you or any of the other knowlegable people on this forum give me advice on using verbal skills to resolve confrontations that do not conflict with my core values?
I'll give it a shot. In my hometown we have some problems with a couple of groups of 2. generation immigrants. It's really sad, because they make it very hard for the rest of the rather large body of immigrants to integrate smoothly into the society. They are quite young (12-18 yrs.) and they spend most nights walking around in groups trying to pick fights.
One night when I'd been to a concert I took a night-bus home and one of these groups were looking for trouble. They had started picking on a young man (perhaps 19-20 yrs.) saying rather nasty things about him but he did his best to ignore them. After a while he tried to move to a different place in the bus one of the bullies took a swing at him - it wasn't wholehearted and it only hit the rim of his glasses but it knocked them of his face and it triggered something in the young man. The next seconds passed by as in slow motion. I saw this young man suddenly all red in the face and just about to explode of rage and I saw the gang members tensing up there muscles - getting ready to beat the living daylight out of this fellow, and suddenly - and to my own surprise - I found myself stepping in between the young man and the guy who he was about to attack. I heard myself saying something along the line of: "come on - take it easy" - everybody was puzzled (including me) since they didn't expect anybody to do what I did. Then I said ".. forgive him - he can't help being an idiot.". Then I bend down and picked up the glasses and turned to the young man and handed them to him while I suggested with a whisper that he should go to the other end of the bus and he did. The hooligans didn't do anything anymore and I think this worked because they have a simple yet important code that they live by, which forbids them to attack anybody without provocation. The things I said made it seem like I took their side - calling the other guy an idiot - so I was not an opponent - and in the same time they were so puzzled that anybody would walk into such a bad position volunteeringly that they forgot to try to escalate the situation any further. Nothing more happend for the next 15-20 minutes when the young man got off the bus unharmed and 10 minutes later the gang left the bus as well. All the time I was alert to the situation but tried not to be provoking in any way. Later I have been wondering why I did what I did, but I haven't figured it out yet. I don't know if it was 'verbal aikido' or not but it was a strange experience where my body/mind acted on it's own without consulting my fear and my reason.
Sorry about the length of this. Hope you found a little bit interesting.
All the best