All behaviour is a form of communication
Any form of aggression can be disturbing but it is normally the case that the aggression is not aimed at you personally but you are the one there.
When someone is acting aggressively, normally it is because they have lost control – over themselves or the situation – only by shouting louder and being angry will anything will be done, e.g. “It’s only when I get angry that you listen…”. We run “hot” and “fast”.
Remember all behaviour even unpleasant is a form of communication. When we establish what the person is trying to communicate it could prevent them from choosing this method of communicating with you.
Two things to remember
Don’t take it personally
Hard as it may be – stay objective – you may just be the person in the firing line.
Be aware of your own response
Aggression needs an aggressive reaction to sustain its momentum. If you respond aggressively you reinforce the other person’s aggression towards you.
Handling aggression the 4P way
There are a number of techniques for dealing with aggression. The 4P approach will be helpful to anyone who has to handle aggression effectively in their professional or social life.
The intent of the 4P approach is first to give you control and remove hostility from the situation and secondly to calm the other person down so that he/she is able to engage their brain and begin solving the problem.
Your listening skills are at a premium in these situations – what ever you do stay away from interrupting. Use silence skilfully by listening and showing the other party that you are. Allow the other party to empty – let them get it all out!
Open Questions make the other person think and help move from heart to head. Open questions will also help you identify the real problem.
Test your understanding of their problem – this will help to show you have listened.
Reflect back and show Empathy – listen for the clues, play-back to them the issue, identify their frustration or anger but do not say “calm down” that will only excite them even further.
Be aware of your own body language – present a non threatening and open stance – whether you are sitting or standing. Ensure you keep good strong eye contact but ensure this does not appear confrontational. Make your gestures slower and more deliberate than normal.
Control the speed at which you might normally speak – be aware of speaking a little slower than you normally would and engage with the person in a firm and confident tone.
Empathise with their position and once you have understood it indicate what can be done to resolve the issue.
Read more about How to handle aggression and other difficult situations in our new book, “Assertiveness – how to be strong in every Situation” – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Assertiveness-How-Strong-Every-Situation/dp/0857083686/ref=sr_1_53?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363193660&sr=1-53
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