No matter how assertive you may be, you will still come across people who decide that being aggressive is the best way to handle a situation. It’s their choice. They choose to behave that way.
What can you do if you face a customer, colleague, or other person who decides to use this form of communication to make a certain point?
Firstly, difficult as it may seem, try not to react. Take a breath. Recognise that you being aggressive too will only fuel the fire.
Ask clarification questions if you need to. Try to keep the aggressive person thinking about facts. This will utilise the left brain and will put less emphasis on the emotions that are causing aggression from the right brain.
Get a clear picture of the situation from their point of view. Let them have their say without interruption. This will subliminally send the message that they should listen to you when you speak.
State clearly how you see the situation, without judging the other person’s viewpoint. Explain how you see the discrepancy between what they believe and how they see it and what you feel is actually the case.
If you are not providing fuel for their aggression, you may quickly see it start to diminish.
If they don’t see your position, you may have to leave it for a while and come back to it again after tempers have cooled.
If you’re able to maintain your composure in the face of aggression, you may find that your genuine poise and presence of mind helps you to see things differently. Understand why the other person is being aggressive. It may be the only way they see an answer to the challenges they are facing. Your reaction may well have an influence over how they continue to behave.
By being assertive and non-aggressive in your response to aggression, you give yourself the chance to be clear-headed in your feedback, and that may well help in diffusing the situation.
Originally published: 23 May, 2011