Just make sharp heads clear IIT

Learn to be quick-witted: 6 tips + 6 ingenious counter-attack strategies

Counter stupid sayings? Not everyone is quick-witted. Often the right saying comes to mind hours later. How nice it would be if you could become more quick-witted ... The good news: You can. Quick wit can be learned! We show you how a clever counterattack works, how you can easily parry verbal attacks - with practical tips, examples and quick-witted answers with which you can practice your repartee ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What is repartee?

Quick-wittedness is the art of countering spontaneous and agile in an unpleasant situation. It's the ability to quickly come up with a funny or clever answer. At its core, repartee is about immediately delivering the right response to an unexpected statement or question. If you are quick-witted, you stop verbal attacks and take the wind out of the sails of the attacker. This is in a bad light, while you appear confident and self-assured.

Common synonyms for quick-wittedness are eloquence or shrewdness. However, neither does the meaning of quick-wittedness. The idioms: “always have a suitable answer ready” and “don't fall on your mouth” are much better.

Learning to be quick witted: is that even possible?

Some people are naturally quick-witted. They always have a relaxed saying on their lips, counter any comment as they please and know exactly what to say at what moment. Others find it difficult and spend a long time looking for a suitable answer. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Anyone can learn to be quick witted. The largest possible, active vocabulary is an important prerequisite for this. A clever counterattack lives from a clever language game, from sharp puns - from the "top". So read a lot, talk a lot, and practice, practice, practice playing with words.

How does repartee work?

In addition, quick-wittedness is made up of three factors, all of which are necessary if you want to be quick-witted and want to answer faster:

  • courage
    Have the courage to be cheeky from time to time and break with the desire to please everyone. You can only get a quick answer if you say something at all. So don't let every saying go.
  • Reasoning ability
    If you manage to express your opinion and find arguments in stressful situations, your quick-wittedness grows. Prepare yourself - like a chess player - in advance for possible objections or malice (mentally).
  • humor
    Instead of taking the attack personally, make fun of it. Not taking yourself too seriously immediately makes you appear more confident. Nothing comes across as quick-witted as a counterattack in which you show that you can laugh at yourself - or at such infantile attempts to upset you.

Repartee Examples: Here's How You Can Respond

Quick-wittedness is often difficult, especially at the beginning. It can help here if you come up with a few quick-witted answers and sayings that practically always fit and work. By memorizing these, you will at least gain more confidence and will be able to get rid of them over time. Because, of course, such quick-witted sayings are never as "powerful" as your own original saying and counterattack.

In the following you will find some classics with which you can quickly answer almost any saying. The "quick-wittedness coach" Matthias Pöhm also calls them "trigger sentences":

  • "If you say that, it will probably be true."
  • "You see that correctly."
  • "I will think about that."
  • "That is your opinion."
  • “Unfortunately I didn't understand. What did you mean by that? "
  • "You will have to get used to it."
  • "You speak audibly but not understandably."
  • "That is your problem alone."
  • "You saw that well."
  • "Anyone can say that."
  • "It sounds kind of petty from your mouth."
  • "That's how I saw it once - when I was still so naive."

The counterattack lives from the surprise

Overall, practice being more offensive. Anyone who is afraid of saying the wrong thing will never be quick-witted. Journalist John Wilkes is a good role model for this. When Lord Sandwich, namesake of the folding bread of the same name, said to him: "One day you will either die of syphilis or on the gallows", Wilkes only said: "That depends on whether I adopt the mistress or the life principles of your lordship." A counterattack that couldn't be more quick-witted.

Speed ​​also decides when it comes to repartee. The counterattack lives from the surprise. About hitting the other where it hurts. If you come under fire, the moment of shock often puts you on the defensive. Overcoming this rigidity is the hardest lesson in practicing reparteeism. It is only possible through a kind of immune system: See verbal brawls as communication ping-pong. Or as a compliment: after all, someone is paying so much attention to you that they have chosen you as their target. And who sets themselves small goals? Just.

6 tips on how to practice reparteeism

Would you like to be more quick-witted? Then the following tips and exercises can help you:

  1. Don't put yourself under pressure
    If you are attacked and injured by a comment without warning, you will immediately find yourself in a stressful situation - the first reflex is to flee to escape from the situation. It is precisely this reflex that prevents you from governing spontaneously. Don't put yourself under pressure and the answer will come by itself. It doesn't have to be a perfectly quick-witted answer. Don't expect the best counterattack anyone has ever said right away. Without this pressure, it is easier to be quick-witted.
  2. Realize the situation
    Not every attack is completely surprising. Sometimes it becomes apparent in advance that the colleague is planning a stupid saying. Stay alert and watch out for small signals. So you won't be taken by surprise and can react quickly.
  3. Don't let yourself be provoked
    The aim of verbal attacks is to provoke you, expose you or make you get upset. Therefore: Do not do any of this, but react relaxed and calm. In many situations, “Is that really the best thing you can think of?” Is quick-witted enough - because the comments are not nearly as witty as the sender thought.
  4. Improve your general knowledge
    Not only a large vocabulary, but also an overall good general education has a positive effect on quick-wittedness. The more you know about many areas, the easier it will be for you to formulate an appropriate answer to a wide variety of words. It is not without reason that reparteeism is interpreted as a sign of high intelligence and good general knowledge.
  5. Pay attention to your body language
    In addition to the right words, a quick-witted reaction also requires the right body language. Do not make yourself small and look at the ground in shame. Stand up and look your counterpart straight in the eye. An upright posture and direct eye contact signal to your counterpart that you are not afraid and that you will not be intimidated.
  6. Look into the past
    How often have you been annoyed because you came up with a quick answer too late? Very annoying, but also a great way to do better next time. You have found a quick-witted answer - albeit too late. Learn from it and ask yourself how you can get it done faster at the next opportunity.

6 tactics & strategies of repartee

In addition to the tips, there are also some tried and tested tactics for being more quick-witted. You can use these in a wide variety of situations, but especially in the job they are particularly good for finding quick-witted answers. For a better understanding, we will introduce you to the individual strategies, give you a specific situation as an example and show you what the quick-witted answer might look like in the case.

Consultation tactic

This tactic can actually always be used. You play the ball straight back to your counterpart and ask a question that is as unpleasant as possible, to which the other has to find an answer.

Repartee example

Colleague: "But you gained weight while on vacation."

You: Yes, it can be. How was your vacation? Apparently the food wasn't that good.

Reversal tactic

With the help of this tactic you turn the tables and expose your counterpart. Usually this reaction is very entertaining for everyone else. But be careful: you will quickly make enemies and should expect a return coach.

Repartee example

Winston Churchill was famous for his quick wittedness. At an evening party, a certain Lady Astor is said to have said to him: "If I were your wife, I would put poison in your coffee." To which Churchill replied:

And if I were your man I would drink him.

Consent tactic

Instead of defending yourself, just agree with your attacker. In this way, accusations and provocations come to nothing.

Repartee example

The SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel was asked at the federal press conference after the coalition agreement had been signed how he felt that he and Alexander Dobrindt were now part of a cabinet. Dobrindt described Gabriel as "overweight and incapable". Gabriel replied calmly:

At least in half he is right. Which one depends on the weight class of the observer.

Compliment tactic

This tactic is based on incapacitating the colleague with ironic praise. Pay an exaggerated compliment that ironically illustrates how stupid the remark actually was.

Repartee example

During a presentation, what you said is said to be "superfluous". They counter (ironically):

A great throw-in. May I write it down?
Compliment! I would not have believed you would have made this witty remark.
Thank you for the help in life. Could you repeat that, please?

Translation tactics

With this tactic you “translate” the words of the other person - in a way that was of course not intended by them. In doing so, you are turning the statement to your advantage.

Repartee example

Your colleague reports to you. "You are only a puppet of the boss!" To which you answer:

Do you mean that it takes a lot of instinct to guide me?

Evasion tactic

With this tactic, you do not go into the content of the allegation at all, but make it the subject of how currently people are talking to each other. Bring up the unobjective nature of communication. Isolate your counterpart with his statement.

Repartee example

In a meeting you are criticized by your colleague for only having foolish ideas. Your answer to that:

Unobjective remarks like this get us nowhere. We are all interested in arriving at a result as quickly as possible. I ask you to remember the correct manners.

Advantages: What does reparteeism bring me?

From a very practical point of view, quick-wittedness helps to find the right words in difficult or uncomfortable situations. The benefits don't stop there. It pays to work on your own quick wittedness. What will improve for you as a result:

  • You gain respect among your colleagues.
  • You make a confident impression.
  • You regain control.
  • You set limits.
  • You are being taken seriously.
  • You show assertiveness.
  • They increase your self-esteem.

Quick wit on the job can also be dangerous

Quick-wittedness is well received in many situations, makes for some smirking or appreciative looks. But - and that's a big BUT: In the job and in the office, different rules apply than in a heated debate. With the latter, the robust replica has to be quick, precise and painful in order for it to be fully effective. This is risky at work: cheek often only brings a Pyrrhic victory here. Anyone who tries to silence others is more likely to provoke a desire for revenge.

Or worse: Thanks to the punch line, the original accusation is even more firmly established in the minds of those present. Office rhetoric is therefore never combat rhetoric, rather it should demonstrate one's own sovereignty and end an unpleasant topic. In the job, a little caution is required when it comes to reparteeism and there are some basic rules that even quick-witted answers must adhere to in order to avoid negative consequences:

  • No verbal counterattacks below the belt.
  • No personal insults.
  • No unnecessary escalations.

Tips on how to hit the right note on the job

The following tips and techniques will help you show quick wit and still hit the right note.

  • Take a short break
    It is a trick of aggressors that they want to induce a quick reaction - which they may secretly expect and can counter immediately. It ends like a rabbit and a hedgehog: the other is always there. Get out of this spiral. Take control. For example, ask a question or say thank you for making the other person's point of view so passionately clear. And you are already leading the discussion and now setting the pace.
  • Put humor in the foreground
    That is usually part of the quick wittedness anyway, but it is of great importance in the job. Humor loosens up and ensures that your return coach remains tactful. Seasoned with a pinch of charm and self-irony, you invalidate almost every poisonous saying. When the French President François Mitterrand was interrupted again and again during a speech by a critic with "stop!", He replied: "I would like to do us both a favor, but in this situation we shouldn't just think of ourselves."
  • Categorically reject the verbal attack
    One form of quick-wittedness can be not to respond to the comment at all and to get rid of it immediately. For example with the words: “This is your version. But the fact is that… “The scam is not particularly original, but it forces the conversation back to the factual level.
  • Be quiet
    Especially when someone attacks you not objectively but on a personal level, there is a great urge to shoot back with the same means and also hit below the belt. It escalates quickly and there is no real winner. However, there is another, much more elegant, form of reprimand: silence. You don't say anything, just look the aggressor in the eye and observe a minute's silence. The expectant silence that now sets in works in your favor: While the insolence still echoes through the room, it mutates into embarrassing malice. But you remain sovereign, show greatness to stand above it and keep yourself completely under control. Then continue as if nothing happened. This gesture also signals that it is rolling off you. And you definitely don't go to that level. The speaker, on the other hand, disqualified himself with his shot below the belt.

The art of eristics as self-defense

If you are advanced in these techniques and you have to deal with a really nasty dog, you are welcome to practice the art of eristics. This is the evil stepsister of rhetoric, which is no longer just about parrying an attack or putting the best argument in the foreground, but about winning an argument by all mean means. The aim is to outsmart, ridicule and discredit the opponent - although he may even be right or the better arguments.

However, that really doesn't belong in the office and serves as the last step in self-defense. Knowing their techniques is still advisable - even if only to parry really mean attacks.

  • Make the opponent angry
    Anyone who foams with anger can no longer formulate clear thoughts. Proven means: harassment, insinuation, insolence and repeatedly wronging the opponent. By the way: If the opponent unexpectedly gets into a rage at a point of contention, this is a good indication of a sore point. Experience has shown that his arguments here are particularly weak and emotional. Rewill immediately!
  • Wrongly summarize the opponent's statements
    It is outrageous, but no less effective, to summarize several answers that do not correspond to the desired opinion with a wrong conclusion (your own thesis): "So you say that ..." He does not say, of course, but enrages him.
  • Exaggerate the opponent's thesis
    And present them as generally as possible, while your own, on the other hand, very specifically and in brief words. This makes the opposing thesis much more vulnerable, it offers more space.
  • Cross-examine the opponent
    Identify arguments that conflict with something the opponent allegedly said before. Arguments that contradict something that the opponent previously praised work in the same way. The goal here: the credibility of the witness is undermined.
  • Cover the opponent with a barrage of questions
    The following applies to this technique: ask - no matter what, as long as it covers many different areas. Your counterpart should really get into swimming. The more you ask, the more he loses the overview and the motive behind it. At the end, all confirmed points are quickly summarized.
  • Break up the real goal
    For example, you can mask the confirmation of a sensitive point by breaking it down into individual premises. These can then be confirmed individually in the course of the debate and in wild order. In the end it is easy to close the bag: "You have already admitted that ... and that ... and that ..., only one thing can follow from this: It is as I say!"
  • To appear to agree with the opponent
    Then exaggerate and exaggerate his theses and arguments, provoking his approval suggestively (nodding the head is enough) and then with relish refute the exaggeration: "But that's nonsense!" That kills two birds with one stone: the opponent stands there like a fool and his powder has run out.
  • Confirm the opponent's thesis
    Similar to the previous point, but now you are not evaluating it, you are rather doubting that it is practical: “It looks nice on paper. But how is that ever going to work? ”Here, too, your counterpart is faced with the problem that he now has to argue and prove that it is possible - not that easy in practice.
  • Surprise the opponent with a torrent of words
    A sudden and violent torrent of words amazes some opponents so much that they lose their concept. The ancient sophists even recommended, instead of answering, to suddenly laugh in order to unsettle the opponent. The main thing after that is a blast.

What other readers have read about it

[Photo credit: Doppelganger4 by Shutterstock.com]