Challenging & Aggressive Behavior

With Susan Lawrence

Ingredients & Techniques

  • Listen
  • Demonstrate Understanding
  • Make a clear, specific request
  • Stick & repeat (adapt if their response merits)
  • Describe behavior specifically, don’t label the person
  • Avoid endless repetition – assertively end interaction in this case.

Fruit and Roots to Anger

The tree roots are universal, archtypical reasons to be angry:

  • Being discriminated against
  • Being ignored
  • Our values
  • Our sense of justice
  • The impact of an action upon us
  • Not being listened to

The fruits are individual – they may not make sense to us why someone is angry, but the fact that one or multiple roots are affected triggers anger.

Anger is an acceptable emotion. It differs from aggression, which is a choice.

Notes : Be aware of age, gender and cultural expectations of anger.

Dan Hugh’s model of the Shield of Shame.

Children taught shame rather than guilt – “you are bad” instead of “that action is bad” – develop protective mechanisms against criticism which they experiences as shame rather than guilt.

Transactional analysis – get stuck in parent/child roles:


  • Argumentative
  • Irrelevant
  • Manipulative

Try not to bite the baits.

Stages of Conflict and Process of Violence

There’s a before, a middle and an end. The aftermath is essential to help us and others look back on, reflect upon what led them to feel the way they did and/or act the way they did.

The stage tells up what approach is needed:

  • Watch and divert (build up)
  • Assess and contain (conflict)
  • Conflict reduction (calming, coming down from peak emotions)
  • Review and reflect (aftermath, afterwards)

Notes: use of negative inquiry / negative assertion:

Dan I know this will be hard for you to hear…
I know you might feel frustrated but I’m afraid…


1st Gear: Request a reason
2nd Gear: Repeat request
3rd Gear: Repeat request, include consequences
4th Gear: Deliver consequence

For each of the gears, you use a stronger, firmer tone without shouting or losing your calm. This gives the person the opportunity to stop whilst maintaining your assertive stance.

Negative enquirer & negative assertion

Prompt criticism or feedback rather than waiting for it to come and get you. Accept that there are strengths and areas to grow in each of us.

‘I talk fast when I’m nervous; please tell me if I go to fast’

‘We’re short staffed at the moment and it’s affecting our waiting list; how has this affected you?’

Relationship is key to all

  • connection and correction
  • Relationship and reason
  • Authentic
  • It takes two to escalate

Written by nifer