Solve a verbal conflict with someone


The person you are speaking to is angry and verbally abusive. You want to respond without escalating verbal or physical abuse.


We design a process named Non Violent Communication to handle this situation. It helps people and us to communicate without violence (not without anger).



Receiving the assault

It is very likely that your interlocutor launches the criticism under the blow of irritation. It needs to release strong negative emotional charge.

So listen and do not interrupt him or her.

Once it's over, acknowledge the reception in a simple way: "I heard you correctly".

If you have your emotions under control, you can also use a very powerful technique: "I'm sorry". Ironically, these 3 words are rarely used in conflict. People usually think: "Why should I apologize to him/her when it's not my fault?" The trick is to use this sentence only to express regret at seeing the emotional state of your abuser - not for these actions... If your attacker asks you the question: "Really?" or "Sorry about what?" you can say, "I'm sorry to see you in this emotional state."

Be careful, your body language must be aligned with these words. Otherwise you risk of appearing insincere.


Share your feeling

A lot of emotions are at stake. To defuse the conflict, it will be necessary to speak on the same level as your interlocutor: emotions. Expressing your feelings allows you to build an emotional bridge, and then defuse tensions with your interlocutor.

For example, you can say:

  • It also makes me angry to hear that.
  • I'm afraid when I hear that.
  • I'm very surprised.
  • It saddens me to hear that.

Center for Nonviolent Communication

Organisation internationale vouée à la promotion de la communication non-violente
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