ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Effective Communication: Talk to vs. Talk at

Updated on February 8, 2015
When someone is talking at you their aggressive speak may as well be a jabbing finger in your chest.
When someone is talking at you their aggressive speak may as well be a jabbing finger in your chest.

What is bullying?

Defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior which involves a real or perceived power imbalance. This behavior has the potential of being repeated over time and includes such action as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Talk to vs. Talk at

We have all been through conversations where there seems to be a free-flow of conversation. One person speaks while the other listens and then you switch. It is a respectful, compatible meld of thought and idea between two people. One doesn't have to agree with the other but there is mutual respect for each other: to listen, process, and accept or reject what the other has to say. You actually talk to each other.

Then there are conversations where one feels like a verbal punching bag. Every pointed phrase feels like a big, stern, accusing finger poking you straight in the chest.

"You should do it this way." - POKE
"You never listen to me." - POKE
"You don't know what you're talking about." - JAB

Question: How in the world do they know what's going on in your head?
Answer: They don't.

Being talked at is a non-physical form of bullying; aggressive and psychologically damaging.

The effects of bullying

Bullying has always existed. In a sense it it almost a rite of passage from childhood through adulthood. There will always be someone who thinks they are better, stronger, or entitled to behave the way they do. There will always be someone who allows it to happen to them, just as there will be a witness to the event. Perhaps you know someone who is both the bully and the bullied?

The sad truth is everyone is affected, whether you are the bully, the one being bullied, or the witness to bullying.


I always felt like I wasn't good enough for my mother. There was some kind of competition between us that I was never quite privy to and quite the unwilling participant of. As a child I learned from both of my parents that a "child should be seen and not heard."

Later on, around the age of 15, I realized that I had a voice. Somewhere in my experiences I found it - but it never seemed to apply at home.

When would I stop being the child seen and not heard?


Have you ever been bullied?

See results

The bully

  • Has significant social impact
  • Generally comes from a dysfunctional family
  • Can have or develop deviant behavior
  • Higher risk of increased offenses
  • Great manipulators

The bullied

  • Generally withdrawn, shy, or socially inadequate
  • Physically weaker
  • Little to no social impact
  • Greater chance of emotional, physical, or psychological issues
  • Work or academics adversely affected
  • Anxiety or Depression

The witness

  • Anxiety or Depression
  • Feelings of helplessness or ineffectiveness

Transforming one's self - my personal journey

Einstein once said insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I'm not one to weep about my childhood or blame my parents for the person I am today. I don't want to fix the "inner child." That child has grown to forgive the past and strive toward a healthy, happy future. Self-reflection and looking objectively at my life was the beginning of my transformation.

There is no guide book to parenthood. As the first child, I was as much an experiment to my parents as I am with life. The child is to be seen and not heard. I was on a hamster wheel of what I thought was expected of me - and I grew up thinking my opinion didn't count.

As a shy and awkward child entering school - fat, no social skills, no coordination for sports, and no voice, I never fit in - and I was a prime candidate for verbal barbs. I was never physically abused by my peers but my imagined self-esteem screamed, "Et tu, Brute?" while pulling mythical daggers from my soul.

Sometimes I would wonder, "How am I still alive if my soul bleeds so much?"

Who was I to question my treatment?

And then it happened...

In the middle of tenth grade my parents said we were moving. We were switching schools and we had two weeks to get used to the idea. Voila! New beginning and I would never see these people again.

I would never see these people again!

And then another eureka moment: Do I really care what they think of me if I never see them again? And another: New school, new people (probably just as mean). Can I survive until I graduate and never see them again? If so, do I really care what they think of me?

I realized I did not care what they thought of me because only I could appreciate the real me.

One simple phrase: "I would never see these people again" became the birth of my self-esteem.


Enough is enough

I had become comfortable enough in my own skin to get on with life: married, children, job, home and car. In my imagination my parents were always ten feet tall - big and foreboding. Every visit brought more verbal attacks.

You shouldn't yell at my grandchildren.
You are too strict.
You're doing it wrong.
Et cetera, et cetera and always you, You, YOU.

Enough is enough. Let them spew and point their verbal fingers. You love them. Perhaps you feel you must. You do not have to LIKE them or what they say.

And then the kitten learned to roar

As I quietly listened to her suggestions, comments, and berating, my heart pounded with a mix of fear and excitement. Today is the day I stand up for myself - but how?

I waited until she was done spewing. If I defended myself or disagreed it would start all over again, like a cat with a fat, squeaky mouse. Waiting to pounce she waited for me to say something. And I did.

"I've heard what you had to say. Now say something nice to me."

Dumbfounded and confused she tried to brush me off.

My heart pounded harder. There will never be another opportunity. Do not let this go.

"I've heard what you had to say. Now say something nice to me."


Then more silence except for the beating of my heart.



  1. the imparting or exchanging of information or news.
    synonyms: transmission, conveyance, disclosure
  2. means of connection between people or places, in particular.

And suddenly...

Grudgingly and oh so quietly she said, "I love you."

It was the beginning of a newer, healthier relationship and communication stream.

How do you argue?

Do you fight fair when you argue or do you find fault with the other person to get leverage on your point?

a. Stop being angry.

b. Well you did it last time and weren't angry.

c. I do not understand why you are angry.

"Stop being angry." This is a demand. Neither one of you are mind readers so don't assume the matter is over and dismiss each other. You know what they say about ASSUME, right?

"Well you did the same thing and didn't get angry." This phrase or any derivative of it deflects blame from one's self and projects it onto the other person. It's not fair to bring up the past when you are dealing with the now.

"I do not understand why you are angry." Acknowledging there is an issue, then stopping to listen goes a long way in forging healthy communication. By saying, "I do not understand" one takes ownership and communicates their point of view.


Don't take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering. ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)