As someone who’s lived in Los Angeles all her life, I can personally testify to all those less-than-flattering stereotypes associated with resident of LA. Yes, we certainly are not the most polite or humble people on the planet. Tempers fly high in this city of the powerful and the wealthy and one can here, more than occasionally, be witness to petty quarrels turning into nasty fights in a matter of seconds.
But why all the anger and aggression I wonder? Unnecessary violence never did anyone any good, did it?
Whenever possible, isn’t it better that you resolve an issue without resorting to fighting to preserve not only your physical well-being but also your internal peace of mind? Of course it is.
But unfortunately, sometimes in real life, the situation becomes such that we abandon the voice of common sense and plunge into violent behavior which inevitably has regrettable consequences either in the form of someone getting jailed, severe bodily injuries to one or both the parties involved or in extreme cases, even death.
To prevent so much unnecessary trouble and grief, it makes sense to not get into a fight in the first place. Keeping that in mind, here is some advice, especially for you short-fused souls out there, which will help you stick to the path of ahimsa and in the process, make this world a slightly better place to live in:
A fight doesn’t break out of nowhere. It usually begins as an argument among two or more people, slowly escalates into a heated quarrel and finally an all-out physical fight. Rather than waiting for it to reach that ultimate state, it is rather prudent to nip it in the bud. If you feel emotions mounting, voices being raised above normal levels, and a generally pervasive tension, diffuse it as quickly as you can. You could do this by either cracking a joke to lighten up the mood, changing the topic or simply by adopting a posture of silence.
9. Maintain your cool
A sure-shot way to make a situation worsen into a fight is by letting your feelings take over your head. Don’t let your adversary’s jibes or insults or get to you. Seeing that his words are rendering you flustered will only embolden him and make him multiply his accusations.
8. Keep distance
Even if you have no intention of having a physical confrontation, you never know what’s going on in your opponent’s head. He might use the first opportunity he gets to pounce at you in which case you will have no option but to fight back. Therefore, it would be wise to keep a safe distance from the aggressor from the beginning itself. However, do it in a self-assured way or else he might construe your backing off as cowardice and might turn even more hostile. Keep your body language defensive but confident.
7. Do not provoke
When trying to avoid a fight, you need to pay close attention to both types of languages- verbal and non-verbal. Saying something sarcastic, an impudent look or aggressive body language such as pointing a finger at the other person or clenched fists automatically translate in the other’s mind as invitations to fight. Instead, use non threatening gestures such as keeping your palms open and facing the other person. It’ll help calm the aggressor down and prevent the situation from turning nasty.
6. Be a “real man”
Although fighting is certainly not restricted to the male gender and women can get just as violent when riled up beyond a limit, this point is specifically addressed to the guys since they tend to be the more common culprits when it comes to physical violence.
Men are particularly conditioned to and have internalized a certain societal gender stereotyping which determines the “masculinity” of a male on the basis of how much aggression he displays. A man who tries to avoid his way out of a fight is unfortunately termed a coward or ‘fattu’ among other explicit epithets which I’m sure my reader would be familiar with and are better left to his/her own imagination. This “machismo” must be recognized for what it truly is – juvenile and ludicrous. No, you do not become any less of a “man” by choosing to walk away from a fight. So men, be mature, be responsible. Stop making fighting a question about your pride. Shun physical violence. You only show yourself to be the better man when you do.
5. Talk it out
It could happen that your opponent is so blinded by rage that he’s beyond the point of being persuaded by rational reasoning. Nevertheless, it is always worth it to attempt to diffuse a situation through talking. He may not cease his diatribe immediately, but if you stick in your attempts long enough to show him that you want to solve the issue peacefully, he will have to calm down. It is difficult to keep shouting at a person who is not giving the other any reason to do so. Moreover, if there are witnesses present, your wanting to talk the matter over instead of fighting will turn them in your favour and the other person will be forced to retreat under their pressure even if he is in no mood to do so.
If it’s your fault, swallow that pride of yours and say sorry. Maybe you unknowingly did something which hurt the other person’s sentiments or touched a raw nerve. If so, his anger is justified and the best thing to do is give a sincere apology.
3. Let him spill
If the other person is yelling and shouting at the top of his voice, maintain your composure and let him do so. No matter how valid your point, counter arguing would most definitely not help. Instead, try to look at the situation with objectivity and discern if the other person too has a valid point somewhere and tell him politely that you agree with him in that particular aspect. Keep in mind to keep your tone of voice polite but firm. Being acknowledged will make the person less upset and diffuse the situation before it escalates any further.
Unfortunately there are people in this world who have nothing better to do with their lives than being obnoxious pricks. You find these pitiable souls everywhere – that fat bully at school or that colleague at office who seems to harbor a grudge against you for no apparent reason. These people will deliberately try to instigate you either through their behavior or through verbal attacks. Sure, it is understandable then that you get the urge to beat them to a pulp, however, a much more effective and energy saving strategy to deal with such people is to simply ignore them. Ignore them like they do not exist. These are usually insecure people with low self esteem who like to pick on other people to make themselves feel better. When you ignore them, you deny them that malicious satisfaction. And trust me, being ignored stings them way more than any physical injury you inflict would.
When nothing else works, the only thing which you can do is make an exit from the situation. No, I’m not asking you to sacrifice your integrity and run away. All I’m saying is that you choose not to fight by leaving. Say something like, “You know what, I don’t even care” and just walk away. And no, it does not make you a chicken. It only shows that you have the good sense and maturity to do the right thing.