Defeating "Digs" and Personal Attacks

It can occur in any organization, but especially in teams made up of a number of capable businesspeople. It can happen when you’re one-on-one or in a group.  It can be as small as a subtle “dig” or an outright assault on your capabilities or character.  It is a personal attack. But no matter when it happens, it can bring consequences.  Now, you might well wonder why someone from The Allied Group, a company that specializes in effective marketing communications strategies and full service fulfillment services would tackle a subject like this. But this is a problem that nearly every man or woman in business has to deal with on an all-too-regular basis. Personal attacks can make you feel badly and can make you look bad in front of your colleagues, your friends or even your boss. But just as there are effective techniques to stop a physical assault, there is a way to successfully neutralize a verbal attack that can leave you looking and feeling good.  It can dissuade your opponent from doing it again – and help you gain respect.  How can you do it? 

A little psychology can go a long way 

When under attack, our natural response is to retaliate or retreat.  Neither course will get us the result we want here.  Instead, understanding and applying some sound psychology can dramatically improve the situation. 

Eminent social psychologist Elliot Aronson, PhD is the only man in history to win each of the American Psychological Association’s top awards for research, teaching and writing. It’s considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Dr. Aronson and coauthors Timothy Wilson and Robin Akert wrote, “During the past half-century social psychologists have discovered that one of the most powerful determinants of human behavior stems from our need to preserve a stable, positive self-image.”

This fact shows why, when under attack, we must resist the urge to retaliate. A cutting remark may embarrass our attacker and temporarily halt a verbal assault, but it will only prolong the war. As the research shows, we all need to view ourselves as good, intelligent, rational people.  Retaliation, then, only brings further attacks since one must defend his or her self-image.  But running away from a bully is not a good idea either.  It marks us as an easy target for future aggression.  Critics want to make themselves look and feel better by making us look and feel worse.  But there are ways to stop a critic in his tracks.  Please read on to "How to Stop a Harsh Critic in his Tracks."

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