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Neutralizing Interpersonal Attacks

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Basic Mistakes

Any attack is a matter of force impacting structure:

  • In a physical attack, the structure consists of the body and how it is held in the face of physical force directed against it.

  • In an interpersonal attack, our structure is strongest when we disengage from the emotionally laden words of the attacker who is seeking to elicit feelings of shame, inadequacy, fear or desire. Rather than impact our physical body, the interpersonal attacker is seeking to impact how we feel. He is trying to lead our mind getting us to react in the way he wants us to react. In that way he is “in charge,” since he knows where we are going and keeps us going in the direction that he wants to lead us.

Avoiding Key Mistakes

Develop a sound understanding of the dynamics of interpersonal force and where the weaknesses are in any attack:

  • Martial artists are very knowledgeable about the weaknesses of any punch or kick.

  • Analyze and understand the weaknesses of personal attacks that seek to shame, intimidate, or con us into something that is not in our best interest.

Practice a repertoire of responses to predictable forms of interpersonal attack:

  • Martial artists train extensively to develop a wide array of moves that respond to any situation.

  • If we are to handle interpersonal attacks, we need to practice a set of responses — no one innovates well under extreme stress. Instead, all mammals either freeze, flee or fight in an instinctual way. We can predict that, at some time, someone is going to try to shame, intimidate, or con us into something that is not in our best interest. We therefore, need a set of responses which we can utilize when those situations arise.

For more related to this topic, read Use the Verbal "Cutting Strike" to Neutralize a Psychological Attack.

About the author: Michael Burkart has spent over 40 years training daily in Chinese martial arts. He uses these principles in his organizational consulting practice & social justice work. He is an Alliance of Kailo Mentoring Group and leads a regular workshop for KMG on Neutralizing Psychological Attacks.

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