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7 Ways to Respond to Verbally Aggressive People

When faced with a verbally aggressive person, he or she may threaten you, put you down, shame, scream at you or even blame you for their behavior. These types of people resort to name calling and other threats of violence in order to get their way. It isn’t easy dealing with verbally aggressive people, but you have to stand up for yourself.

If you’re dealing with someone who has exhibited aggressive behavior in the work place or in your home, taking immediate action is your best bet if you wish to diffuse the situation.

Studies have shown that verbal aggression often leads to physical violence if you’re not careful and watch the signs. Those who exhibit verbally aggressive behavior seek control over people and situations and are more commonly known as bullies.

Common signs of verbally aggressive people are those who put down others, shame them, scream, threaten, blame and intimidate their victims. We live in a selfish world with selfish people, but this type of negative behavior should never be tolerated. We must teach our children how to be more selfless so that they may pass the message on to others.

Consider taking action before a situation looms out of control. Realize that you don’t have to deal with a person who is aggressive in any situation and talk to someone before it results in violence. If you are unsure about what to do when faced with a difficult person and situation, consider the tips below.
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1. Don’t take it personally

Verbally aggressive people degrade and demean those around them for a myriad of reasons. Rise above their negativity and realize that their words are just words and nothing more. If you show that you have been affected by the person’s negative statements, you’re only hurting yourself. You may not be able to control the person’s comments, but you can control how you choose to respond.

2. Don’t respond to anger with anger

Just as much as you wouldn’t throw gasoline on a fire, you should respond to anger with anger. Verbally aggressive people lash out in anger because they may not possess the communication skills in order to debate a specific topic. Giving in by showing an angry response is just making you angry – and it gets you virtually nowhere.

3. Remain calm and caring

It may prove to be easier said than done when faced with someone who is aggressive verbally, but try to remain calm and caring. The chances are high that this wasn’t an expected response on their part, so it might throw him or her off.

Use phrases that make a clear statement of understanding and even ask for a remedy to the problem the individual is facing. In doing so, you may open up the lines of communication and de-escalate the situation before someone gets hurt.

4. Give the person space to reflect alone
When involved in a situation that gives an aggressive person sensory overload, take a step back and allow the person the opportunity to be alone. When a lot is going on around him or her, they become overwhelmed quickly and easily panic. Give them a break in a quiet space so they may work out their frustration.

5. Allow them the chance to vent

When dealing with a bully, it is likely that they have lashed out at you repeatedly and without cause. If you recognize this behavior in someone, consider that they may need a safe space in order to vent their frustrations.

Encourage the airing of grievances by telling the aggressive person that you are willing to listen if they calm down and speak with you at a normal volume and with respect.

6. Make a joke to smooth things over
If you have a great sense of humor, use that to your advantage in an attempt at smoothing things over. Try to make a joke at your own expense and it could lighten up the situation overall. Avoid joking at the other person’s expense so you aren’t throwing gasoline on the fire (see #2 above).

7. Suggest getting help
If you feel that a situation with an aggressive person has spiraled out of control, take a step back and suggest that the person seek professional help. When the situation has been diffused, ask the aggressive person how you can help them when they feel their anger getting the best of them.

8. Get yourself some help
You may need to seek therapy with another person in order to talk through the abuse you may be suffering from another. If you feel ridiculed by a bully, talk to someone and get the support you need. Reasonable solutions may not always be clear, but you deserve to know that you aren’t the cause for the individual’s negativity.

9. Set boundaries
When confronted by an individual who displays verbal aggression, wait until the situation has been diffused and set forth your boundaries. Tell the person that you do not deserve to be treated in an unfair or abusive manner and list out your plans if the behavior continues.
When in a work environment, you may consult Human Resources or a manager and inform them of the person’s behavior and its effects on you. If involved in a relationship with a verbally aggressive person, advise them of the consequences if their unwanted behavior continues. You may alert the police by dialing 911 or by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

There are many ways to respond to a verbally aggressive person, but none of them should end in violence. Reach out and ask for help if you find yourself in a negative situation. Just because another person has difficulty forming genuine relationships with others doesn’t mean you should suffer.
Studies show that children who witness incidences of bullying tend to feel anxiety and powerless that is similar to the victim. In their passive participation in the incident, they may have a tendency to rationalize the aggressive behavior and later accept it. If we teach our children to cope with difficult situations when they’re young, they will stop negative behavior earlier on and stand up not only for themselves, but for others.