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How to Deal with Hostile People

These people, because of their behavior cause a considerable amount of disruption in the work place.  It is easy to imagine that hostility and aggression are the same thing.  However, it is possible to be aggressive without being hostile and it is possible to be hostile without being aggressive.

Their behavior is unmistakable.  They come charging out, not always physically, but their whole approach is one of attack.  They can be abusive, abrupt, intimidating and overwhelming.  They are often arrogant in tone and contemptuous of their victims.  They consider them to be inferior people who deserve to be bullied.  Some hostile people manage to reach positions of authority because they have developed a superficial smoothness.  However, they are universally detested by their staff.

If a hostile person detects a sign of weakness, they will push on and rob their victims of the ability to deal with the situation in a cool and competent manner.  They have tremendous power in interpersonal situations.  This power comes from the typical reactions to their behavior.  The hostile person creates confusion or a sense of helpless frustration in their victims.

We need to find the reasons for the hostile behavior to understand why these reactions are likely to fuel the hostile or aggressive behavior.

They have a powerful need to prove to themselves and others, that their view of the world is always right.  Everything is black and white and they are right.  They get impatient with those people who have differing views.  If they perceive any resistance to their way of thinking, their impatience turns quickly to irritation or anger.

Because hostile people have successfully rumbled over people previously, they think that this gives them the right to be forceful and operate with a strong feeling of confidence.  These hostile people have very clear ideas about how other people should act.

They can achieve short-term objectives through their bullying ways.  However, the cost is considerable.  They lose the ability to have honest disagreements, they lose friendships and their relationships in the workplace deteriorate.  Another unfortunate feature of these people is that they are incapable of receiving feedback or accepting constructive criticism about their impact on other people.  They also seem to have acute listening problems.

The hostile person expects to put you out of commission quickly.  If you know this, then you are on your first step to coping with them.  Do not allow them to beat you up.  At the same time do not confront them because this will create even more extreme hostile behavior.  Avoid an open confrontation about who is right or wrong.

The first rule of dealing with anyone is to stand up for yourself without being aggressive.  If you let yourself get pushed around by aggressive or hostile people, they will regard you, and your views as even more insignificant.

When you are being attacked by a hostile person behaving noisily by shouting, swearing, or banging things, wait for them to run down.  Look directly at  them and wait.  Eventually, they will run out of puff.  When the momentum starts to falter, that’s the time to make your move.

Being polite is not an issue at this point.  Don’t worry about being polite just get in.  It is often necessary to interrupt in order to stand up to a hostile person.  It is a time to cut off the flow even before they have finished.  This is the only way you will be able to get your point across.  If, on the other hand, are cut off, exclaim, “You interrupted me!”  If this fails to stop the hostile person, say it again.  It doesn’t matter how well you express yourself if you smile as you say it.

Get their attention carefully.  Hostile people tend to have clear expectations on how you are going to react to them.  After all, they think, why should you behave any differently to the rest of their victims?  You need to show them that you are not responding to their expectations that you will either run away or indulge in hostile behavior of your own.

Get them to sit down if possible.  Most people find it harder to act aggressively if they are seated.  Say, “Look if we are going to argue, we may as well do it in comfort.  Let’s sit down.”  Start to sit down yourself but watch them carefully.  If he or she remains standing, do the same yourself.  Having a hostile person looming over you does not help you to cope.

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  1. SissyC
    September 4th, 2013 at 09:48 | #1

    I must say, I know of two people who fit this
    discription. ONE agressive, and the other, ona milder way. This article has been very helpful to me. At least I know I do not have to accept that persons ruidness.

    Thanks

  2. March 16th, 2014 at 00:03 | #2

    Great post. I will be dealing with many of these issues as well..

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