Aggression is often the precursor to violence, and while it’s best to avoid antagonistic people, this isn’t always possible. But how do you deal with them without things escalating into a fight?
Aggressors typically try to intimidate, bully, humiliate and belittle people. They often show little regard for the feelings and opinions of others, and can also be verbally abusive.
Being assertive is a good way of diffusing a potential conflict so it doesn’t escalate into violence. It can be hard to practice assertive behaviour, but it is essential for standing up to bullies and aggressive people. It is a way of establishing a clear personal boundary and letting others know that you won’t tolerate people walking all over you. The more you allow an antagonistic person to dominate you, the less they will respect you.
If you are faced with an aggressive person, it’s important to try and look at the situation objectively. This is easier said than done, but breathing deeply can help you to stay calm. The aggressor will usually try to railroad you by trying to catch you off-guard and emotionally unbalancing you. This shows a great deal of emotional immaturity, but if you are able to stay in control of your emotions, it is easy to gain an advantage over a verbally or physically hostile person.
Don’t allow the person to engage you in criticism. As long as you remain calm and objective, this will throw the antagonistic person off kilter. You could tell them that while they are entitled to their opinion, you disagree.
It’s natural to feel angry when faced with hostility. In this kind of situation you can employ the 7-11 breathing technique. When faced with an aggressor your body produces adrenaline. You will breathe more rapidly so your body has more oxygen available getting to ready to fight, or take flight. Taking shorter in-breaths and longer out-breaths reduces the amount of adrenaline in your body, so you will deal with the situation in a calmer and less emotionally reactive manner. This helps you to remain assertive and calm when faced with a confrontation.
If you suspect that the situation may lead to physical violence, or you feel uncomfortable, you should leave the situation as soon as possible!