How to Handle a Verbal Antagonizer

How to Handle a Verbal Antagonizer

Suddenly, you are in a situation where you are being verbally attacked. You must take immediate action for your personal safety. Your conditioned response may prevent verbal aggression from easily escalating into a physical attack. Here are six things you can do to diffuse verbal aggression.

  1. Recognize Verbal Attack Indicators: Verbal assault may not be as obvious as a physical assault. Tone of voice, not necessarily the actual words used, may communicate aggression. Be alert to passive-aggressive language or an angry smile. Verbal aggression is used by some individuals to build up to physical violence. If you feel threatened, trust your intuition.
  2. Control Your Emotions: You may feel angry, defensive, bullied, threatened, vulnerable and confused.  First, find a way out. Deflect any taunts  and distance yourself from the aggressor.
  3. Understand the Cause: Is this verbal assault a way of venting frustration that may become non-threatening, or could a physical attack easily be provoked? Be alert! Error on the side of your personal safety.
  4. Defuse: Practice a collected response that will become second nature when implemented.  Show empathy and agreement with the other person.  An antagonizer is not someone with whom you can reason.  Focus on staying in control and speak calmly.  Firmly resolve to put your own safety above all else. Act in the opposite way of how your emotional state is triggered.
  5. Do No Provoke: Keep your ego intact and politely take away their reason to fight. You may need to repetitively apologize and then distance yourself from the conflict. Remember, anger only fuels anger.
  6. Avoid: Do not attract attention to yourself. Blend into all social settings and be respectful of others.  Don’t provoke conflict by pointing out minor inconveniences you perceive others may cause you.  These situations are found everyday such as when we are out driving,  getting in line at the grocery store, or just attending sporting events.

Often times verbal antagonizing is a precursor to a physical altercation. However, with the proper skills the situation can be diffused. Keep your emotions under control and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.

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