At some point or another we all have to deal with aggressive people. The aggression often arises during a conflict, when one person feels the need to protect their interests or to fight to gain something, often at the expense of others. If you ever encounter an aggressive person, keep these tips in mind:
Recognizing an aggressive person
• They interrupt you or talk loudly, keeping you from speaking.
• Your point of view and input is not allowed to be expressed.
• Your boundaries are being crossed.
• Interacting with the person leads to tension.
• You feel emotionally exhausted after dealing with them.
These people cannot be avoided. So try to find a solid balance between assertiveness and empathy to deal with them. To do so, follow these five basic steps:
1. Keep your cool
Getting just as angry will only make things worse, spurring the other person's aggression. To stay calm:
• Take a deep breath.
• Step away from the argument and do something else, like get a glass of water. This should diffuse tension building up in the moment.
• Think about how much you might regret the things you say out of anger in the long run.
2. Point them out
Don't proceed with a conversation as if nothing is bothering you. Call it as you see it. Instead of using words like 'you' try something on the lines of:
• There's no need to stress, we'll resolve it.
• I'm sorry, can I say something I believe is important?
• I understand this can be stressful or upsetting.
Doing this early on will make them more conscious of what they are doing. Consequently, it can help the person be more open to hearing whatever you have to say.
As hard as it may be, try put yourself in the other person's shoes. Try to understand the reasons why he or she is being aggressive. Try to consider:
• What does the other person have to lose? (time, money, friends and family)
• How would you feel if you were in the person's situation?
• Is there something else going on in their life which makes them easily agitated and quick-tempered?
4. Be assertive
While it may sound contradictory to be empathetic and assertive, understanding the other person's position does not mean you will allow them to be aggressive. Just remember to:
• Keep your voice low and steady. This will show confidence and will not spur the other person to talk more loudly than you.
• Stand your ground and don't allow the person to monopolize the discussion.
• Always remain respectful, yet ask for the same respect in return.
• If the level of aggression begins to increase, respond with force and assertiveness to indicate that your tolerance is declining.
When someone is overcome by their emotions, they tend to lose sight of the matter at hand and how the argument even started. Focus the conversation on the more important things and facts, helping the other person revert to thinking and reasoning. Use phrases like:
• 'All that matters is that...'
• 'In a few years’ time we’ll laugh at this situation.'