Confidence with Aggressive People

One secret to gaining confidence with aggressive people is to understand that often the aggression comes from that person feeling insecure. You'll rarely find a happy, self confident person being abusive to someone else. The two just don't mix. I thought the following quote was a really good explanation of this:

"Insecure people often seek control over others. Because we all feel insecure at time, we often sympathize with someone who expresses his insecurity, especially if he seems weak, passive, or frightened. When we encounter someone who is aggressive and controlling, we don't always recognize him as being insecure because he does not fit the profile; he isn't what we expect." -Carolyn N. Bushong from The Seven Dumbest Relationship Mistakes Smart People Make

Of course, if the person is a psychopath or something like that then this won't always apply but considering why the person is so aggressive can help you to understand the situation you're in and possibly give you some ideas on solutions.

The following is a guest article by Peter Murphy with his 4 tips on how to deal with aggressive people.

How to Kill Fear When Dealing with Aggressive People

By Peter Murphy

The book, Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers is regarded as a self help classic. Have you read it?

I read it many years ago and I was disappointed by the content of this book that has helped a lot of people take control of their fears. Why? Because I believe we all have the power to go far beyond feeling the fear.

And I really think it is important to learn how to transform fear into courage by learning how to use more of your mind and how to take charge of your emotions.

There are two ways to take fear and transform it into a different emotional state:

1. Release the fear by letting go of it.

2. Change the way you represent the experience so that it no longer makes you feel fearful.

Today I want to look at changing how you represent experiences to yourself.

1. Pick a person you deal with on a regular basis who you find intimidating. Get started by choosing someone who causes you to feel mild fear.

2. Ask yourself -- what does it get me feeling fear around this person?

Typically you will answer that the fear causes you to be more alert and careful. However the irony is that when you feel fear you are less capable of responding well to the challenges of the situation.

Let me give you an example. When I lived the corporate sales life a number of years ago I had a crazy boss.

He would scream down the phone at me, thump the desk with his fist in meetings and threaten to fire me if certain goals were not achieved. I never took this personally because he treated other people in the same way. Still I did feel fear when dealing with him.

What did I get by feeling fear?

It meant I was careful to say the right thing and to do my job to the best of my abilities to ensure he had no reason to have another go at me.

Nevertheless it was not an ideal situation!

3. If you cannot influence the behavior of the intimidator change how you feel.

In the case of my boss I matched his behavior to get rapport. When he shouted at me I raised my voice to speak back. When he slammed the desk I became more animated in how I talked and I used my hands more when expressing myself.

This pacing will help. However it is not enough you also need to change how you feel.

Before you start working with the following approach make sure you are feeling energetic and resourceful otherwise you could get dragged back into the fear itself.

Now take a recent encounter with the intimidator and run the scene in your mind as if you are watching it on TV. Pretend you are outside the event watching as a bystander.

Next, distort the images until the other person looks absurd. Dress the person in silly clothes or even no clothes! Change their voice until it sounds squeaky like a cartoon character. Slow down their speech until it sounds like a worn out tape. Then speed up the speech until they sound like a bumble bee.

Play the scene backwards, upside down or with zero gravity. Do whatever you have to until the scene is ludicrous.

Keep playing with the sounds and images until you are either laughing or at least smiling when you think of the intimidator.

At this point you have turned fear into a more resourceful emotional state. Well done!

When you are new to this technique you will need to run through it several times until you get the hang of it. And for difficult situations I recommend using it daily to shake off those unpleasant feelings of fear you have associated to that person.

4. Keep the benefits of the fear and not the fear itself

After step 2 above you know how your fear is serving you.

Let us say the fear gives you alertness, safety and carefulness.

How are you going to behave carefully around the intimidator without feeling the fear?

You need to write down or run through likely scenarios in your mind until you are well prepared to handle whatever is thrown at you.

This step is very important and you are in trouble if you skip it.

In my case I was mentally ready to work elsewhere, I saved up some money so that if I did get fired it would not be the end of the world and I was always careful to only promise what I knew I could deliver.

If I had just changed how I felt without dealing effectively with the situation I would have been in a very difficult situation.

Your goal ought to be to feel resourceful and to be intelligent in how you deal with difficult people.

Using these tips will help you. How much this information helps will depend on how much energy you put into applying this approach.

When I look back on my aggressive boss situation I know that I could have done even more to handle it better. So like you I am always learning.

The important thing is to get started and keep heading in the right direction. And take even one step each day to take you forward.

NB: get help immediately if you are dealing with a violent individual

About The Author

Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. 

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Additional Resources

65 Positive Ways To Deal With Negative People - this is my ebook on how to deal with all the negative people you meet in your life.

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