How do you react when someone confronts you with angry words? Do you become angry and fight, or do you panic and make a hasty retreat? There are alternative strategies for coping with unexpected verbal confrontations; you can regain your composure, remain calm, and defuse an emotionally challenging situation.

Try these three strategies:

1) Do not fight back. When you’re under verbal attack your mind races to find ammunition to throw back at the person. This will only escalate into a volatile situation until someone makes a regrettable statement. The best response to verbal assault from your boss, lover, or parent, is to do nothing-just listen. Take a moment with a few deep breaths to collect your thoughts. Here is a statement that says you are not going respond in anger: "I’m not going to argue with you about this, but I want to hear what you have to say and understand why you think that way".

2) Listen, Sympathize, and Acknowledge Feelings. You can very effectively keep your cool by conceding the person’s right to feel the way he/she does. Really listening to the person shows that you sympathize with and understand their feelings. This action tends to defuse the conflict. Being sympathetic in your responses allows you to focus on the source of the anger. You may discover the person has possibly magnified , misunderstood or misinterpreted your statement or action that caused the conflict. Or made you aware of a genuine complaint that you need to address.

3) Find An Acceptable Compromise. Now that you have defused a tense situation, you can discuss possible outcomes and solutions to the problem. Once you explore the specific issues and focus on the problem-not the personalities-then the solution will become evident. You might guide the conversation to a solution this way:
"Now that we both understand the issues better, let’s see if we can come up with some solutions that will make both of us happy."
"When you're not happy, I’m not happy. Let’s start talking again so that we can figure out a way to get this relationship back on track."


Your confidence and personal power are grounded in the knowledge that when issues that create conflict arise, you can deal with them in a controlled and reasonable manner. Even in the most difficult of verbal confrontations, using these strategies and adapting them to your situation work very effectively.

Think before you speak! People will respond in a way that may surprise you when you talk to them tactfully-they’ll like and respect you.

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