If It Weren’t For AGGRESSIVE People
Imagine yourself in a face-to-face confrontation with a football player, or a soldier, or even a bank robber. These are overbearing, powerful, and intimidating personalities when they are playing their respective roles. Aggressive is a good word to summarize the impact of such people.
The Aggressive Personality – Manipulation Through Hurt and Anger
One does not have to be physically intimidating to be considered aggressive. In the context of relationships, aggression may be expanded to include any interaction where one fails to acknowledge another person’s rights, needs, and/or concerns. The aggressive person’s only concern is seeing that their needs get met – regardless of the methods used or the consequences of their actions.
The two emotions used most frequently to manipulate others are hurt and anger. When difficult people use hurt to manipulate, their goal is to make us feel guilty or bad about ourselves. You’re bound to know a few folks who whine, complain, mope, and are always the “victim.” When people use anger to manipulate, their goal is to frighten or intimidate us. These types threaten, yell, scream, slam doors, give “killer” looks, use sarcasm, put-downs, and belittling statements to make us feel powerless.
How do I know it’s manipulative?
Both hurt and anger are very real feelings and emotions that can be meaningful and appropriate. One of the easiest ways to know if you’re being manipulated is to check out your own feelings when confronted with another’s hurt or anger. When we’re being manipulated, the ultimate goal is for us to feel guilty, insecure, afraid, or inadequate. When these emotions are used appropriately, we feel empathy for the other person’s anger, distress, or sorrow, but we do not internalize or accept responsibility for their feelings or situation, nor do we experience negative feelings about ourselves.
We train difficult people.
Most children are already smart and devious enough by the ages of 3 or 4 to try to pit mom and dad against each other to even the odds so that it is not two against one. Anytime parents fail to model assertive communication, the children learn to use manipulation to get their needs met. Aggressives know that most people will respond to the ensuing feelings of guilt or fear by simply giving in to them. Remember that, when we reward negative and manipulative behavior, that behavior will occur again.
Guilt is one of the most debilitating emotions we can feel because it causes us to doubt ourselves and thus feel unworthy and inadequate. To make matters worse, both fear and guilt can (and often do), manifest themselves as physical sensations, symptoms, or even illnesses that are uncomfortable, destructive, or painful. Stress can often be traced to people or situations that cause you to constantly question yourself in a critical, negative way.
Anger can often turn into verbal abuse. Ironically, most abuse would not exist without the help of someone who is willing to allow it, accept it, and even reward the abuse by giving in. A verbally abusive person is desperate to put the responsibility for their actions, failure, and problems on everything and everyone except themselves. Difficult people cannot survive without us.
You can make a difference!
Aggressive anger almost always begins with the word “you” because there is a desire to attack and blame others. Assertive communication is the only healthy style and almost always begins with the word “I” because there is no desire to attack or blame others. Assertive anger states the problem and the possible solution without attacking the other person’s character or dignity. Remember that difficult people are in a war for control, and they will go to any length to win. To stand your ground and communicate assertively with aggressive personalities, you must remember that you are responsible to people, not for people.
As an adult, you always have the power to step aside and refuse to accept or reward aggressive – or any other form of non-assertive – behavior.
Identify three situations where someone used hurt to get what they wanted. Were they rewarded for their manipulative behavior? Using assertive communication, how could you resolve the situation?
Want to learn more techniques and strategies for dealing with DIFFICULT people? Check out my Life Would Be Easy If It Weren’t For Other People book today! Click here!
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