exchange of ideas

Dealing with aggressive comments

How do you deal with aggressive comments and angry feedback?

I write about Christianity. As a result, I deal with my fair share of confrontational comments. None of them on my blog sadly. (I would love some nice comments if you have time).

These are five techniques that I use to defuse aggression. I hope that they can help you too.

1. Try to address the root objection

Sometimes a comment is angry not at you but because of the topic you have raised. For me, this is often what is going on with friends and family when they seem suddenly aggressive.

Rather than replying I ask questions. These questions are designed to find out what it is that they are upset with. I am often surprised at how often the person is not really angry with me or anything I’ve said.

2. Find something to agree with

Some people are aggressive because they feel alone. I try to identify something that other person has said that I can agree with. I try to make my agreement clear and enthusiastic.

That alone can defuse a situation like nothing else can.

Most aggression comes from unhappy Christians (atheists seem much calmer on the whole). Therefore, it is usually quite easy to find common ground. As soon as I can get to common ground with a person, they almost always become calm and rational.

3. Remain kind and calm despite aggressive comments

It is very hard to keep being angry with a person who is being kind to you. I believe in trying to show all people love. That is not an easy thing to do but it does work.

Even if you can find no kindness to show the angry person (do try), remain calm. Remember this is just an internet comment. There is no rush to reply. Take all week if you need to.

4. Acknowledge their point of view

Validating the other person’s point of view is a great way to defuse an argument. I have a theory called agnosis (it means knowing nothing). Agnosis means that I am probably wrong about something. Remembering that makes it much easier to acknowledge the other person’s view even if I cannot agree with it.

Sometimes all the other person wants is to feel that their point of view is still valid. You lose nothing by letting someone feel that it is okay to have a different idea to you.

5. If all else fails, walk away

Some people want to fight, not talk. There are cases where there is just no point continuing. Internet jargon labels these people trolls. Trolls just want to provoke a fight.

Walk away from trolls.

There is a big, amazing, beautiful world full of mystery and majesty right outside. Step away from your computer and enjoy that instead.

I am amazed how often taking some time away results in someone else saying the right thing in my absence. I just needed to give them time.

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