How to respond to verbal attacks
You are not responsible for what
another person says. That’s just something they are doing. So you
are not responsible for correcting the truth or accuracy of what they
say. In fact, if their statements have nothing to do with what to do
or not to do, or how to solve a problem, there is no need to be
concerned at all about the truth of their remarks.
Ask yourself -- does that person believe what they say, or was that just a harassing remark? If I respond to their statement, is there any chance they would say, “I see your point. I was wrong about that.” If you believe the answer is “No,” then there is no reason to waste your breath trying to correct a false statement, especially if it was an accusation, and especially if you think the accuser does not really believe it.
If you have been verbally attacked, is that person playing your prosecutor, judge and jury? If that is the case, is there any chance that any one of those roles would rule in your favor? If no, then why defend yourself? Why assume that your words would make any difference? Are they really your prosecutor, judge, or jury?
And why assume that their words make any difference in whatever is the reality? Don't be lured into butting heads, especially if that has been the pattern in the past. If your response has been to be devastated, now that you see through the game, there is no reason to be destroyed by their words.
There is no need to take nonsense remarks seriously. She or he is just making sounds. Their meaning need not be taken seriously, though that person's motivation for saying them should. Do you want their game to be successful?
So, if you are not going to argue about every point, what do you do instead? For one thing, if this is about behavior, such as “You always...” or “You never...” or “Yesterday you did...” then try to turn the discussion from “You are a bad person” to behavior, and how to solve a problem.
Ignore the “You are a bad person” aspect, and just move to what to do about it. Forget about correcting the truth of the statement, such as whether you really never do this or that. (See "Fighting Fair" on the "More" list.)
If the discussion can not be turned to behavior and problem solving and the future, then try to ignore the insults as if they are just background noise. (Do this only if the other person would not resort to violence)
Rather than responding defensively to every claim that is made, substitute answers like, “I see.” or “I didn’t know you felt that way.” “I didn’t realize that.” “That’s interesting,” or, “Thank you for sharing that with me.” (Even if you don't mean that.)
To avoid getting sucked in to the game,
try to imagine the person as a radio sitting on a table and playing.
It’s just sound coming out of it, and nothing more.
Remember, in a game of tennis, the game can’t continue unless you bat the ball back. If you don’t send it back, then the game is over.
See the book "Games People Play" by Eric Berne. Read the games "Courtroom" "Uproar," and "If it Weren't For You."