Knowing how to respond to hostility is vital. Inevitably someone is going to give you hassle. Learn how to handle yourself now and you’ll save yourself from an argument.
Let me share a little story of what happened to me today, and why I am so glad I know how to respond to hostility and anger like a zen warrior.
Walking down the street in the burning heat I accidentally knocked into a guy. He was about 6 foot 3, shaved head, tattoos of snakes, one of a dagger. Naturally I apologised.
“You got a problem?” he snapped.
I said it was my fault and made to leave. He grabbed me by the wrist and repeated, louder this time, “You got a problem?”
Having meditated for about an hour before bumping into this guy, I wasn’t angry but rather compassionate. I wondered what this guy had been through in life to make him so angry.
Being a meditation teacher, I would have liked to have him sit on the street in lotus position, eyes closed, focussing inward. But he clearly wasn’t ready for that. Instead I complimented his snake tattoo, telling him I had a snake, a grass snake, back home in England. This was true, I do have a snake. He liked the compliment. Immediately his attitude changed from one of seething anger to friendliness. We talked about snakes for a few minutes before he calmly left.
Thankfully I knew how to respond to hostility and anger.
All it had taken was one compliment, a few words, to completely change this guy’s attitude. How different it could have been.
If You Respond To Hostility With More Hostility, Everyone Will Lose
I am aware that, had I not been meditating myself, I could quite easily have become angry at the guy with the snake tattoos. What would have happened then I don’t know. Loud words, most likely, or worse. But through calmness and compassion I was able to turn an enemy into a friend. It wasn’t hard. Calmness and compassion really is all it took.
How often in life is that the case? How often could we calmly and compassionately turn problems into a solution?
It’s said that nonviolent communication—communication based on compassion and lack of judgment—improves all relationships in life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re bumping into an angry stranger, struggling to keep a happy home, or trying to improve teamwork in your office or place of work, nonviolent communication improves relationships for everybody.
To give a little more clarity as to exactly what nonviolent communication is, imagine this setting. You’ve gone out for the day, working all day, you’re tired. You come home. The house is a mess because your significant other hasn’t tidied up their things. In this situation, many might immediately jump to attack. “Why haven’t you cleaned the house? You never do anything.” This is an example of violent communication. This style of communication is only going to lead to conflict. The problem with our example sentence is twofold: 1) It’s judgmental (“You never do anything”), 2) The focus is on the other person’s faults.
The right way to respond to hostility and anger is with peace and non-judgmentalism.
Imagine responding to the stranger on the street in this way: “Why don’t you watch where you’re walking? You thugs are always causing trouble.” This would only lead to a fight. Instead, nonviolent communication leads us from an enemy and a conflict to a friend and a resolution.
Sometimes, the tiniest change in attitude leads to the biggest results.
It’s funny. People think that to see real results in the world you need to go to enormous lengths. People talk about “peace” as though it were a vain fantasy. All peace requires is a little awareness, a little compassion.
Honestly, peace is easy. It’s a hell of a lot easier than conflict. Get into one conflict and it will escalate. You’ll feel angry, you’ll feel guilty, you’ll be upset and you’ll upset others. This leads to jealousy, pent up anger and frustration and the belief that everyone else is to blame. Conflict and anger lead nowhere good. Peace, on the other hand, makes life easy. And all it takes is compassion.
Where, then, does compassion comes from?
Compassion stems from a willingness to view other people as equal to yourself, basically a willingness to get over yourself and think of other people. The naturally enemy to compassion is self obsession. If you’re constantly thinking about yourself you don’t have room for other people. Get over yourself.
There are many ways to move beyond the self. Personally, I meditate. I just close my eyes and focus on my breathing, letting go of my thoughts, letting go of delusional ideas of myself. It takes twenty minutes, that’s all. Twenty minutes of meditation and you view the world as your friend. Twenty minutes of meditation will develop the compassion that leads to nonviolent communication. This, in turn, makes enemies friends. It’s so easy you’d be stupid not to do it.
Try these tips. They’re the best way how to respond to hostility and anger. Trust me.
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