What are the defense exercises in the Stoic method?
There are three kinds of defensive exercises against the personal assault of others on our character:
1. Self-deprecation: Epictetus said that if someone accuses you of having some flaw in your character you should tell him its a good thing he doesn't know you well enough to point out even the worst flaws you have. You quickly deflect criticism with self-deprecating remarks. Even without being witty, by enthusiastically admitting the error of your ways you take the sting out of the accusations against you.
2. The Queen Maab defense: In the movie, Merlin, the magician eliminates the power of the wicked witch, Queen Maab, by organizing all the people to simply turn their backs on her fury. That's the silent defense that you can always use if you aren't quick enough to think of a good self-deprecating remark. By ignoring someone you are in effect saying that their opinion is of no interest to you. And, in fact, their existence is not important enough to even recognize. This can be very effective for all but children, both big and small.
3. Correcting the Child: The rudeness or misbehavior of a child must be corrected for instructional purposes. We should all take part in helping to educate a child for life in a civilized society. Sometimes the child is a grownup. Not everyone you encounter will be wise. Many, if not most, will be stuck at a primary stage of ethical evolution. To these, Epictetus would advise we instruct them as we would a child. No one says a Stoic must suffer fools gladly. There are situations when dealing with such people includes pointing out the error of their ways. Nothing personal. Nothing emotional. If you don't remind them of the value of decorous behavior, who will?