In some rare cases it happens you get attacked in a discussion. How should you react?
I think the most important point is to ask yourself whether it is really an attack. Most often, it is not an attack but feedback (it helps to take some time to think about what was said). Whether something said is seen as feedback or an attack depends on three factors :
- me — what is for me acceptable that someone else says to me?
- the other person — who said it?
- the context — in which context was it said?
So depending on those factors the same comment can be seen as feedback or an attack. If I see something as feedback, then the other person will (usually) get a normal answer. But if I see it as an attack, then I will switch (probably unconsciously) to a defensive mode and try to defend myself. You want to show the other person that you are stronger/better/smarter/whatever and that it is a bad idea to attack you and he should go away. That’s the goal.
To accomplish this goal, everyone uses his own strategies. Some of them are:
- Ignore the attack and do nothing
- Say you don’t accept such an attack and he should go away
- Use the judo principle, i.e. analyze what the other said to attack you and use it against him
- Surprise the other with an answer he wouldn’t expect, e.g. by thanking him
- Start an attack, too
I think there is no strategy for every situation, in one situation you may have to use strategy A, whereas in another situation strategy B is more suitable, and so on. This may sound easy, but in such a situation it is difficult to keep cool and so you may act irrationally… So, be warned!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, such attacks are very seldom. Still, it is always good to be prepared ;-)