3 Disarming Techniques From a Psychotherapist: How to React to Provocations and Rudeness?


At work, in our circle of friends, and even in the family, we regularly encounter passive aggression and manipulation. With questions and phrases, provocateurs try to hurt, cause unpleasant emotions, and a desire to justify themselves and defend themselves — and they do it so skillfully that you can’t blame them directly. 

We will tell you about the techniques that help to fight back and neutralize manipulators in this article. Well, to relieve psychological stress and relax, you can visit TonyBet.

How Provocation Works: Goals and Rules of the Game

Psychological provocations and veiled rudeness always have a motive — a goal that the aggressor is trying to achieve.

  • Impose emotions. Make you feel ashamed, guilty, sad, angry, anxious, and insecure about yourself and your loved ones (for example, children and a loved one).
  • Find weaknesses. To test the strength of your boundaries and find a gap in them — to understand what you are ready / not ready to tolerate, and how you can be manipulated.
  • Put in a weak position. To make you emotionally vulnerable and “rock” on emotions to shake the authority and reputation, to demonstrate their dominance over you.
  • To force something. Provoke the right emotions to impose unfavorable agreements or working conditions on you, find out valuable information, gain respect and fear, and defend your interests.
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To achieve this, the provocateur uses 3 key principles of suppressing the opponent:

  • Calmness. The one who remains calm dominates, because the main purpose of manipulation is to find the pain points and cause the right emotion. And if you give in, you lose control of your behavior and find yourself in a vulnerable position: it’s easier to control you.
  • Talk about the opponent. The dominant one is the one who asks questions and talks about the other person much more than about himself. The victim gives out important information and becomes more vulnerable.
  • Criticism and depreciation. The main one is the one who asks questions, evaluates, criticizes, blames, and devalues. And in a weak position, the one who justifies himself and proves the opposite is trying to rehabilitate his merits.

Top 3 Techniques Against Provocations and Rudeness

Of course, the best way to protect yourself from provocations is to limit communication with toxic people. But this does not always work out: for example, you cannot refuse contact with colleagues, friends of your loved ones, relatives, etc.

Therefore, knowing the main goals and tools of provocative behavior, you need to learn how to defend yourself from attacks and dictate your game conditions.

Draining Energy

By criticizing, the provocateur wants to force you to react emotionally, interrupt and justify yourself.

A task. You need to stay calm and let the person drain all their energy.

Listen to the criticism to the end without interrupting. Observe the person with calm and courteous interest, show curiosity, and stimulate to continue.

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Result: A person cannot achieve the desired reaction, and feels confusion and vague anxiety. He has nothing to cling to, and the conflict fades.

The “energy drain” technique has 2 more variations:

  • Polite thanks. Listen to the interlocutor without interrupting. Calmly thank me for my opinion, and get back to your business.
  • Ignoring. This is a more “boorish” and aggressive method that helps to put a person in his place in public. Listen to the provocateur’s tirade with a calm, cold expression, even with a slight surprise. Do not react in any way, do not answer anything, and after listening to criticism, go back to your business.

Translating the Focus of Attention

The goal of the provocateur is to focus attention on you and your emotions and words, to lead to excuses.

A task. To remove the focus from yourself, translate it to the interlocutor. To do this, ask questions. There are 2 variations of this technique.

  • Confusing question. Listening to the interlocutor, ask him questions about himself with concern, and sincerely inquire about the reasons for his attack in your direction. Try not to overplay and avoid theatrical intonations, keep a polite calm.
  • Clarifying question. Break down all claims against you into their parts and clarify. Bring the provocateur to specific answers.

Result: These techniques allow you to seize the initiative. Thanks to leading questions, you are already conducting a conversation, thereby weakening the provocateur’s position and forcing him to justify himself, look for answers, and give out his thoughts and motives.

Disclosure of Cards

The main force of manipulation is hidden motives and passive aggression. The provocateur has an advantage: he plays “in the dark”, without betraying his true intentions and hiding malevolence under the masks of concern, a desire to help, and “constructive” criticism.

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A task. To neutralize the manipulator’s main weapon — the secrecy of motives — it is important to make them visible, and give them a name. There are 2 techniques for this.

  • “That’s interesting.” After the provocateur has spoken out, calmly assume his motivation.
  • A direct question. This is a more complex technique. You should not just state the provocateur’s intention, but ask him suggestive or even open questions about it to shift the focus of attention and continue the discussion on your terms.

Result: Even if the provocateur begins to justify himself: “What are you talking about at all, I didn’t mean that, I’m not angry that you’re twisting!” — his cards are already open, the ground is knocked out from under his feet. And you have already taken the initiative into your own hands, forcing the manipulator to explain his behavior and give an answer to a specific question.

The techniques of “revealing cards” are especially effective in public conversation. They help to protect your authority and expose the manipulator, demonstrating his malice. The main thing here is not to give away your emotions, and to speak calmly and with restraint, without turning into theatricality.

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