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Verbal Combat: The Impossible Victory


Over the past few days my staff and I have gotten into some online scuffles with fellow fans of MMA.  It goes without saying that the world of MMA is filled with ego and posturing and when one isn’t present to flex their muscles or show their physical skills then the war of words begins.   The extremely seductive nature of linguistic legerdemain is so magnetic that even the most confident individuals can be drawn into corners of doubt only to retort with half witted remarks that leave more of scar on their own ego than that of their opponent.  The most challenging aspect of verbal combat is not the selection of words but rather the awareness that each utterance has a cost.  The cost may not be so obvious as that of exhaustion when exerting ones self in a physical confrontation or bruising that results from strikes and blows.  Rather it is a mental and emotional cost.  One that sometimes cannot be quantified, qualified or even completely understood.

The irrational need for equilibrium with a verbal confrontation can lead even the most civilized individuals to acts of a base nature that doesn’t resemble even a reflection of their image from the surface of stormy sea.  The twisting and bending of tongue takes its toll on mind and spirit leaving only a thin veil of success surrounding a chasm of defeat.  It’s not the loss to another person but to one’s self.  That is the conundrum that always precludes and prevails the act of verbal combat.  Victory is an illusion, one based on the perception of the defeat of another’s ego.  At what cost does the challenge meet a purpose?

When examined closely the war of words leaves only scars on the egos of the participants.  The scars run so deep that often we cannot even relish in the success of our efforts, as the spoils of war are hidden beneath a venire that protects the ego from collapsing in on itself.  And if it were to cave in, what would the result be?  Death by mental breakdown?  Suicide by shattered ego?  The transformation of the civilized into the savage?

There is no angle that one can look upon such a confrontation and say “That was worth it.”  More often than not, it never is, and likely will never be.  And even if it seems so for the moment, that moment passes very quickly and we are left with simply one feeling.  Embarrassment.

Thus the only reasonable conclusion is that to engage in the fight is to concede to the loss.  One might believe that there is always a victory to be had, however the truth of the matter is that the war of words has only one way to win and that is not to fight at all.

Silence is the sound of defeat and victory and whom ever can bring that silence to bare first is the true victor in that war.  As Sun Tzu is often quoted “The Supreme Art Of War is winning without fighting.”

There-fore the lesson here is to learn diplomacy, tact, patience and the most important skill of all, silence.