It is almost certain that we will have to deal with aggressive people in our lives. Aggression arises during a conflict when a person feels the need to protect their interests or to fight for something, often at the expense of others. So let’s make it clear that aggression is something at our expense.
First, you can recognize an aggressive person if:
- They interrupt you or speak loudly to prevent you from speaking.
- They don’t allow your point of view and input.
- You often have the sense that your boundaries are being crossed.
- Interaction with the person often creates tension.
- You feel energetically and emotionally drained after interacting with them.
Unfortunately, we cannot avoid these people. Therefore, we need to find a solid balance between assertiveness and empathy to deal with them. Follow these 5 steps to master the art of dealing with aggression.
How to Deal With Aggressive People
Keep Your Cool
Fighting fire with fire will only make things worse and encourage aggression from the other person. Some tips to stay calm, even when you feel like you’re full of anger:
- Breathe deeply.
- Get up to get a glass of water or your phone. Doing something else dissipates the tension that is building right now.
- Think about how much you will regret the things you may say in anger.
Point Them Out
Call it as you see it. Don’t continue the conversation as if nothing is bothering you.
However, you should point out that the other person is being aggressive with a statement of empathy, rather than agitating them further.
Avoid using the words ‘you’ or ‘yours’ and try something along the lines of:
- ‘There is no need to stress, we will solve / fix / solve it.’
- Could you lower your voice?
- ‘I’m sorry, can I say something I believe is important/might help?’
- “I understand that it can be stressful / upsetting.”
If you do this from the beginning, it will help to get them out of the place of not being self-aware and more aware of what they are doing.
As a result, it can help the person be more open to hearing whatever you say.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand the reasons why they are being aggressive.
As we mentioned earlier, aggression is a natural reaction to protect or claim something. Try to consider:
- What does the other person have to lose? (time, money, friends and family, status, reputation, etc.).
- How would you feel if you were in this situation?
- Is something else going on in the person’s life that usually makes him/her generally very easily agitated and quick-tempered?
It may seem contradictory that you can be empathetic and assertive, but one does not exclude the other.
Understanding the other person’s position does not mean that you will allow them to be aggressive.
- Keep your voice low and firm. This will show confidence and will not encourage the other person to try to speak louder than you.
- Maintain your position and don’t let the person monopolize the discussion. Speak your opinion.
- Be respectful and ask for the same respect in return.
- If the level of aggression begins to rise, respond with more force and assertiveness to show that your tolerance is decreasing.
If someone is overtaken by their emotions, they lose sight of the issue at hand and how the whole discussion started!
By focusing the conversation on important things and facts, you are helping the other person revert to thinking and reasoning. For example:
- ‘All that matters is that …’
- “In a few years, we will remember this situation and laugh.”
- Try to make the other person laugh, as this will completely disarm them.
Preview photo credit Tom Conger/Flickr