Facing these kinds of attacks carried out through insults and humiliations can be complex.
It is true that human beings have a natural tendency towards cooperation, but it is also true that, at times, we can become very cruel to each other. The frequency with which verbal attacks occur is an example of that. After all, as much as we must live in society to survive, that does not mean that we must always get along, in all contexts.
In this article we will see how to respond to verbal aggression, as well as strategies for managing emotions associated with this process.
How to react to verbal attacks?
Although we normally associate violence only with attacks directed against people’s bodies or property, we must not forget that as sentient beings that we are, words and symbols can also hurt us. Therefore, verbal aggression is a reality, and you have to know how to position yourself before it.
Of course, one of the facets of responsible behavior in this regard is not to use this kind of attack against others, but it does not end there. ¿ How to respond to a verbal aggression when it is directed towards oneself ?
In a situation of open hostility in which we are attacked by verbal aggression, remember the following guidelines to know not how to act, but how to act. Below we will see the main guidelines to follow, assuming that verbal aggressions occur in a context in which there is no risk of receiving physical or economic harm, in which case we would be talking about a much more serious form of domination.
1. Be clear about the objective
It is necessary to bear in mind from the beginning that what we aspire to is, fundamentally, to protect our dignity and, secondly, to prevent this kind of attack from being repeated. That means that we do not seek or avenge ourselves, or humiliate the other, goals that are incompatible with the above.
2. Take a distant perspective
Faced with compromising situations like this, it is necessary to adopt a certain critical distance with respect to what happens to us, so as not to get carried away. Part of successfully managing those moments when we are verbally attacked is simply not losing your temper and knowing how to control yourself.
In fact, sometimes the sole purpose of these aggressions is based on the expected effect of making us nervous, so that we cannot think rationally, thereby creating an asymmetry in the power dynamics established in the dialogue. If we remain calm we not only avoid this, but we also demonstrate our strength and security in ourselves, something that makes us gain power both in the eyes of the aggressor and in the eyes of possible observers who are not directly involved in what happens. Do not give signs that self-esteem is compromised, as this can give more reasons to continue doing the same.
3. Call attention to the offense
You cannot act as if verbal attacks are normal, so the first thing to do is point out the fact that the other person is already starting from a disadvantageous situation.
In these cases, it is good not to focus on how the attack makes us feel, as this can encourage the other person. Instead, it is better to talk about these attacks as an easy resource that only those who are least able to defend their positions in a coherent and informed way turn to. Anyone can use insults or personal allusions that the only thing they contribute is to hinder the dialogue.
4. Deconstruct the other’s attacks
Sometimes we forget that verbal aggressions are based on totally questionable actions and statements, and we simply focus on the discomfort they generate, but the truth is that through these attacks, the person who emits these aggressive messages is exposing themselves, and runs the risk that what you do will be turned against you. This is what you have to take advantage of. After all, these attacks are often a way of masking the poverty of the arguments used.
Thus, it is good that, at least initially, we act as if within these verbal aggressions there was a content that is worth taking seriously, so that a rigid and dogmatic attitude that is comparable to that of the other is not shown person. In this way, we can briefly explain the reasons why the attacks received are absurd and have no foundation.
Of course, it is essential that this step is always taken after the previous one, which consists of drawing attention to the denigrating content of the other’s messages.
5. Show little patience
It is good to make it clear that our attitude is not the same as that of the attacker, but neither should we act as if the other person is doing their part to generate a profitable dialogue. That is why you do not have to create elaborate responses to each new attack by the other.
If a verbal assault occurs a second time, it is best to stop seeing this person as a valid interlocutor, and stop paying attention to what they have to say, briefly explaining our reasons for doing this. This is a step to take right after the verbal assault occurs, to emphasize the fact that this is unacceptable, and that is why we stop talking to that person and not another.