Ex: If I understand you correctly, you blame me for … Show empathy: Tell the other that we understand what he feels. Useful especially in the case of claims where one can not respond favorably to the request of the other.
Ex: I understand that you are sorry for this refusal. I am frustrated to answer you “no”. But the regulations require it.
2.2 Inform / Explain / Solve:
Inform the other person, complete his / her information, provide him / her with data or explanations that will allow him / her to better understand, accept or resolve the situation.
Ex: Allow me to provide you with missing data to understand (solve) the situation (the problem) and so on.
2.3 Accept / Recognize / Give Reason:
Ex: You’re right or: It’s true or: That’s right. Variation: Give reason in part to the other, on justified, minor or low risk points, with a view to calming him down and putting him in a good position to discuss more important or unjustified points.
Ex: On this point, you are right. For the other points, I would like to discuss it.
2.4 Giving attention to the other:
Be attentive to others despite aggression or manipulation. Keep and maintain the link. Tell the other that you are dealing with your problem.
See what are his needs. (Perhaps aggression or manipulation are just clumsy attempts to express dissatisfaction.)
Ex: We will find a solution together / What are you waiting for me? / What can I do for you ? / What do you need ?
2.5 Reassure / Valorize / Respect the other:
If you perceive a worry, reassure. To highlight the person, his competence, his work.
Do not trap each other. Give him some leeway. Do not make him lose face.
3. Take a step back / Save time
3.1 Defer his answer:
Say you want to discuss it but at another time and make an appointment. Allow everyone to calm down and get ready for this meeting.
3.2 Check first, answer after:
To say that we will inquire, check what happened before answering. Saves time, does not respond too quickly or impulsively.
Ex: I am missing data to respond immediately to your remark. I will review the situation and I will talk to you about it again.
3.3 Get more data before answering:
Save time by asking the other to provide us with more consistent or detailed data to be able to respond effectively.
3.4 Temporarily deflect the conversation:
Speaking a moment of another subject, likely to calm the other, to reduce his stress or to create an affinity with us then to return on the subject litigious.
3.5 Have the problem written down:
Ask the person concerned to comment in writing (Report / Letter / E-mail / Fax etc.) to us or to an appropriate body (Directorate / Legal Department etc.). Allows you to sort out impulsive reactions, made under the influence of emotion, requests that are well-founded or worthy of completion.
4. Assert yourself / Face each other
4.1 Take a firm position:
Affirm simply and firmly our personal position, our values, our needs. If the other returns to the charge, repeat this position as many times as necessary. This technique, called the “scratched disc”, clearly indicates to the other our position and our determination to defend it. Especially effective for subjective remarks based on tastes, preferences, opinions, values of each.
Ex: You can not wear a less showy outfit? Personally I like this outfit.
Ex: How can you work with such a brothel on your desk? There is some mess, but that does not stop me from getting my stuff back and being efficient. Have you thought about the bad impression that this can make? It’s possible, but I find my business and I’m efficient like that.
4.2 Express our feelings and our need to be treated differently:
Tell others clearly what you felt and our expectations or needs regarding your attitude or behavior towards us. One can also ask the other to commit to acting differently.
Ex: I need that we can talk to each other without shouting, otherwise it stresses me and I lose my means. Can you act in this way?
4.3 Stop net and set clear limits:
To clearly indicate to the other to what extent I accept that it goes in its requirements or in the way of treating me. Learn to say “no” or “stop”. Allows us to delimit the boundaries of the acceptable and the unacceptable for us.
Ex: I will not go into the matter with you, as long as you speak to me in this tone.
Ex: It will be impossible for me to do this extra work in addition to the three others you have already given me. I reached my breaking point. Can you set a priority for this work or tell me which of the three I can postpone.
4.4 Silence while looking at each other with confidence:
Once the other has finished, look him straight in the eye and make silence. Silence induces in the other an embarrassment or a void that he will seek to fill either by reformulating what he has just said (and chances are that this version is less violent than the first one in which he had unloaded all his aggression), either by relativizing what he said first.
4.5 Threaten or counter-attack:
To answer at the same time, with the same tone and with the same virulence. Useful with people who only understand the language of force or need to create power relationships with others. Otherwise, avoid or use as a last resort.
5. Put it to the test / Involve it
5.1 Questioning / Clarifying / Reforging / Specifying / Customizing:
Ask the other questions to help them clarify their thinking, go beyond their reasoning, support what they say, clarify their purpose or intent.
Ex: Why are you telling me that? or: What are you basing on to say that? Where do you want to go? or: For what purpose do you attack me? Or: Why are you talking to me like that?
Variation: Unmask and defuse conceptual or linguistic abuses (preconceived ideas, prejudices, abusive generalizations, remarks in the air or on the run, implied, vague or fuzzy statements, etc.) by obliging the other to specify, to be concrete, to provide examples.
Ex: You are always late! When was I late? or: How many times this week?
Ex: You are like all the … (men, women, blacks, civil servants, young people, etc. Give me an example.
Ex: There is never anyone in these offices! Are you telling me that I am often absent from my job?
5.2 To ask for evidence:
To say that it is possible that his remark is justified but subject to proof
Ex: You may be right but I need proof to accept your point of view.
5.3 Engage the other person to get involved, to cooperate: to get the other person to get involved, to engage in the process, to identify with us or to help us (instead of overwhelming us).
Defuse free or easy reviews. Show how willing the other is to work with us to solve the problem.
Ex: In my place, how would you do? Or: How can you help me fix this? or: What solution do you propose?
5.4 Clearly delineating territories and roles:
To delimit the areas of power, decision, responsibility and intervention. To clearly distinguish what depends on us and what does not depend on it, so as not to be attributed responsibilities that are not ours or to blame things that do not fall within our field of competence.
Ex: This work is not finished yet? You received it on Monday and gave it to me on Thursday. I do not feel responsible for not completing it on time.
5.5 Reveal the game of the other / Neutralize it:
Show the other that we see clearly in his game
(aggressive or manipulative), we are not fooled.
Ex: This kind of manipulation, with me, it does not work.
6. Avoid / Ignore / Let go:
6.1 Leaving / Moving away / Quit / Exit:
Go. Leave. Leave the scene by ostensibly showing that it is not a “flight” or a submission but a deliberate choice.
Use when you have enough or other means have proved insufficient.
6.2 Ignore / Be indifferent:
Do not react, do not answer, do not say anything, do nothing, show nothing, remain impassive.
Will be all the more effective if the indifference will be real, profound. If it is feigned, the other may be aware of it (the body is telling the truth), but it can still have an effect.
6.3 Delegate the management of the situation to someone:
Refer the person to someone competent to solve their problem. Often, the person concerned is less virulent with this second person: either because she does not know who she has to do, or because she has already been discharged on us.
6.4 Letting go and agreeing to be helped or supported by someone:
Use a third party to assist us or help us to respond appropriately.
6.5 Acquiesce with detachment to everything the other says / Say “yes” or “no” to everything:
Accept everything by saying that it’s wanted or that it’s like that today or that it suits me well or that I do not care.
Ex: You’re really clumsy! Yes, I’m clumsy. But you do it on purpose or what? It happens to me like that. You do not think of others? No, I do not think of others today etc.
7. Reframing / Relativising
7.1 Reframing / Giving another meaning to what is being said / Replicating with humor / Surprising / Answering with a gesture or an act:
Consists of accepting the intervention of the other while proposing a different interpretation, which turns either in our favor or against it. Or who presents it under a different angle, gives a different vision, neutral or positive. (Attention: irony = mockery ≠ humor). (Requires presence of mind and purpose that we often lack when stressed).
Ex: I’ll find the culprit and punish him!
If we sought a solution rather than a culprit.
Ex: An old English woman in Churchill, whom she hated:
If I were your wife, I would put cyanide in your coffee! Reply Churchill: Me, if I were your husband, I would not hesitate to drink!
Ex: There is that and that was not good in your presentation. You told me what was wrong. Can you tell me what was good?
7.2 Relativising with simple formulas:
Use formulas to relativize attack or manipulation.
Ex: It is a way of seeing or: It is your point of view or: If it suits you to think that or: And then! Another formula: “It’s possible”.
This expression is very effective because it helps to cushion the shock while having little risk because it gives no harm or reason to the other. It is very useful for defusing subjective attacks based on personal values and not on objective facts.
Ex: You combed your hair with a nail this morning! It’s possible.
7.3 Redefining the way we communicate:
Temporarily put aside the subject of the dispute and establish an exchange on how we relate and communicate, in order to jointly define favorable conditions for an exchange based on trust and respect.
This technique is called “meta-communication”.
Ex: We have embarked on a balance of power where we each try to impose our point of view without really listening to us. I suggest you start from scratch, try to listen to us and find a satisfactory solution for each one of us.
7.4 Practice psychological judo:
Instead of opposing resistance, stopping or countering it, use one’s own strength or impetus to destabilize it.
This technique is practiced according to the following principle: Pulling the other in the direction in which he was going, prolong his movement instead of trying to stop him, resist him or oppose him.
On a psychological or verbal level, this consists of not opposing the other and asking him to either continue to do what he was doing or to do more.
Ex: (After receiving a series of criticisms): Continue, it’s useful to me or: Do you have others, more advanced, more severe?
7.5 To practice the paradoxical injunction or the prescription of the symptom:
This technique can defuse either unacceptable repetitive behaviors or unpleasant behaviors that start, we see coming or can anticipate.
It consists of telling the other to do what he is used to doing or what he is about to do, before he does it himself.
It is therefore to take the lead and cut the grass under his feet. By anticipating the reaction of the other, by anticipating it, we take away the benefit of the initiative and we cut off its effect of surprise. At the same time, by soliciting his behavior, we indicate to him that we are ready to accept him or to cash him. As a result, this behavior no longer makes sense and stops.
Ex: I feel coming a lined. I take a deep breath, I sit comfortably. That’s it, I’m ready. You can go.
Ex: A colleague systematically criticizes your work.
Solution 1: Tell him that, on reflection, his critics are useful and propose to him to set up a mini-session of weekly criticism where he will be able to give free rein to his critical mind.
Solution 2: Prepare a sheet where you list all the reviews he usually sends you, with a check box for each remark. You ask him to fill one of these sheets each day and give it to you.
Charles Brulhart / Aggressions and manipulations / 2009
31 techniques to defuse aggression and manipulation: If you borrow or use this document for training or coaching, please indicate with reference my name: Charles Brulhart and my site: