Compliments of HerryLawford via Flickr

Kissinger described diplomacy as “personal dialogue, not public confrontation.” We can agree to disagree by acknowledging the other side’s point of view. In so doing we ensure that our communication is other centered, instead of ego-centric. Below are some aggressive communication tactics designed to put others on the defensive (and, which should be avoided at all costs):


Throwing in the kitchen sink: inclusion of extraneous arguments that have nothing to do with the topic an attempt to bolster one’s position. For example, let’s say the argument has to with burning the biscuits. Trying to “one down” the other person simply escalates the conflict at hand, and it fails to resolve the problem.

Parental stance: lecturing to someone as if that person was in kindergarten. Note that mutual respect implies a meeting of equals.

Dummifying: Any phrase on which you could easily add the word “dummy” is most likely not a good word choice…e.g., “I don’t know why you didn’t think of this…”

Comparing: Comparisons between two employees are as inappropriate as those between children. Similarly, explaining to someone how you could have done it better is both belittling and ill-mannered. Each person brings something unique to the table which should be acknowledged and appreciated.

Mindraping:  “That was rude, and you know it!”  Individuals who mind rape seemingly know another person’s motivation and thought processes (without having any direct information on which to base their assumptions). 

Gang attack:  several individuals collaborate to humiliate a coworker in a public meeting. The impact is exacerbated by the “bystander effect” in which onlookers remain silent.

Mocking: repeating what another person has said in an affected, disingenuous tone of voice.

Objectification: referring to some else in the third person (in his/her presence).

Interrupting: bursting in with one’s own observations in mid-sentence of another’s speech.

Filtering: modifying your message to be pleasing to the other party. This phonomenon occurs in a hierarchical organization, where information must travel through many channels before it reaches its final destination.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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