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Vicious people: How do you handle it?
Old 04-13-2010, 01:14 PM   #1
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Vicious people: How do you handle it?

To a person, I've found whenever I have encountered someone who makes a personal, vicious attack on me--one with no substance really because a. either the person doesn't know me or b. because I have not done what the person thinks I have or c. any multitude of reasons--that the person who is the attacker is unhappy with their own lives. Either they are just losers and are trying to make themselves feel better by attacking or maybe it's much deeper than that (dysfunctional childhood, drug or alcohol problem and so forth). Whatever their problem, it is their surprising and vicious attack on your person that comes out of the blue and works like a slap in the face. But I guess in the attacker's mind, it provides them with some relief from their own pain?

There is a woman at my pool who I've seen viciously attack another lady there who's done absolutely zero to her to deserve her nastiness. It was really a below the belt remark(s) about the lady having lines in her face (she's 70, so get real cause, of course, she will have some lines). The attacker is so over-Botoxed she actually has changed her German features to almost Asian and looks, frankly, odd.

I've seen same woman attack another lady about the cellulite in her thighs/legs. Granted, the attacker lacks cellulite, but she is about 70 lbs. overweight. Does she not have a mirror. Talk about the pot calling the kettle.

So, after some thought, how do you handle attacks from vicious folks? Me, personally, I tend to let it roll off my shoulders normally and just cut them off socially by avoiding them. But, I'm not sure this is the best way really to handle those folks who need to project their own shortcomings and unhappiness on others.

What is the best way to handle vicious attacks on your person that are undeserved and just plain cruel/mean? Is the best way to treat these just to ignore them and leave the person alone or is it better to say something back to the person that shuts them up for good? And--if you do say something back to them--what do you say that hits the nail on the head but doesn't put you into a counter-attack mode?

As I get older--and have experienced plenty of this put-down/insulting attack method from one of my relatives (or as I call him, "an equal opportunity insulter")--where my "let it roll off my shoulders and he will stop" method did not stop him. In fact, he felt it gave him more license to continue because, since I didn't say anything to him, he could UP the attacks. Needless to say, after X number of years, I no longer speak to him or care to see him ever again relative or not.

Anyone have a better method than what I've been using?
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:19 PM   #2
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I just remind myself that it must suck to be such a bitter person, and be thankful that I'm not like that. I prefer not to even dignify them by wasting time, energy or brain power to respond. They aren't worth it.

And when you know people who have a pattern of doing this to many others, there's no reason to take it personally. They're just a cranky, bitter person. Again, thank God I'm not like them.

It's like I often say: If you have a problem with some other person, the problem might lie with them. But if you have a problem with just about everyone, the problem is *you*.
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:40 PM   #3
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I often don't respond when I'm the victim of a vicious attack. The reason is not that I'm a great person or anything Instead it is just pure shock. If it really just seems totally inappropriate then normally I'm stunned into silence because it is so unexpected. After that I may think about zingers I wish I'd been quick enough to come up with. But then I realize that like you say the attacker must be deeply unhappy and that unhappiness has been directed at me. So then it's easy to forget about, which is generally what I do. I guess if it was a regular occurrence I might be tempted to say something. But even then I think I realized it wouldn't make any sense to get angry with the person since that might be what they want all along. I don't think you can shut such a person up for good, unless by chance it's with logic. Like by quietly asking them what their problem is that they're constantly vicious to people.
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:41 PM   #4
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I don't know what the best way is, I only know what my way is...

More often I just let it roll and isolate myself from the culprits if I can easily live without contact with them. I am a pretty patient guy and I can take a lot of sh!t from people but, occasionally, I bite back especially if the attacks have gone long enough. And when I do strike back, you'd better make sure you can take it as well as you can give it because I don't hold my punches. At that point, I am well passed sparing people's feelings. I gave it straight to a few people in my family. Sometimes it ended in tears (not mine), but it always seemed to create a better foundation for a more equal relationship. YMMV.
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:43 PM   #5
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Orchidflower: With al the respect and consideration that you undobtedly deserve- isnīt there in your idea of the best way to treat these nasty people some element of cowardice? Donīt we deep in our heart prefer to pay him/her back in kind, and settle the issue, once and for all. In other words, have the bully bullyed?
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:52 PM   #6
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I'm not particularly quick on my feet, and if someone suddenly attacks me verbally I, like metabasalt, am often left speechless. On the couple of occasions where I was able to gather my wits about me, I said very calmly "I don't think I deserved that". One person continued on, and I just said that same thing again, then exited the situation as quickly as possible.

In my experience, people that make vicious and ugly verbal attacks are often behaving irrationally. When I was younger I used to try to respond with reason; as I've grown older I've come to realize that reason has absolutely no value in an irrational situation. I only wish I could identify these situations faster.
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:57 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by vicente solano View Post
Orchidflower: With al the respect and consideration that you undobtedly deserve- isnīt there in your idea of the best way to treat these nasty people some element of cowardice? Donīt we deep in our heart prefer to pay him/her back in kind, and settle the issue, once and for all. In other words, have the bully bullyed?
There is some level of "satisfaction" or "revenge" factor to this, but I'd prefer not to forfeit the moral high ground and wallow in the gutter with them.
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:38 PM   #8
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My recipe...I go by the one strike rule.

In person:
1. Smile (unexpected response). Say nothing. Zero response.
2. Walk away calmly and immediately, in a 90 degree direction so I can glance back to keep an eye on the person.
3. Avoid all further contact, no matter what.
4. If pursued after I walk away, pull out my cell phone and inform the vicious person I am calling the police if they do not cease and desist immediately. Never had to actually dial it.

By telephone:
1. Do not answer phone. I want a recording of the verbal attack.
2. On second instance, hit redial and calmly inform caller that they have been recorded. Clearly state that it is unlawful to use the telephone as a harassment tool. Hang up.
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicente solano View Post
Orchidflower: With al the respect and consideration that you undobtedly deserve- isnīt there in your idea of the best way to treat these nasty people some element of cowardice? Donīt we deep in our heart prefer to pay him/her back in kind, and settle the issue, once and for all. In other words, have the bully bullyed?
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There is some level of "satisfaction" or "revenge" factor to this, but I'd prefer not to forfeit the moral high ground and wallow in the gutter with them.
My feelings exactly, Ziggy.

I rarely suffer such an attack and I think it is because I avoid such people, including those I hear attacking someone else. Even though I may have not been the target of their remarks, I want nothing to do with such people. When I am the subject of a viscious, verbal attack I simply don't respond and walk away.

In 1987 I was in a staff meeting where my boss's boss started tearing strips off one of my co-workers, really ripping into him in front of us, shouting and verbally abusing him (no swearing but nasty remarks). I simply folded up my papers and said "Excuse me, but I don't have to listen to this and walked out". Afterwards my boss and co-workers were so supportive and impressed, but the abusive manager never even mentioned the incident.
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Old 04-13-2010, 04:19 PM   #10
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Live in Minnesota where no one would say these things to someone's face.

Maybe a good response is to look at them squarely and say "What did you say?" and see if they have the gall to repeat it. Like most I probably would be struck dumb though.

If it was said about someone I know and I am a witness I hope that I would rise to their defense and say something like "that wasn't very nice" or "wtf." These things can be hurtful.

(Edit: Upon reflection I can remember a couple of nasty attacks from my working days. In those cases my response depended on the situation, but rarely ignored).
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Old 04-13-2010, 04:35 PM   #11
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My favorite comeback to hecklers has always been "that's OK, I remember my first beer too"
It works well but isn't always situationly appropriate.

There's a really useful little book you might want to pick up at your local library or used bookshop called Tongue Fu! How to Deflect, Disarm and Defuse Any Verbal Conflict. It's a little new agey but dead-on topic. Life is just way too short to suffer miserable people for long.
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Old 04-13-2010, 04:59 PM   #12
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It depends on the situation for me. The 1st few time it happens I let it slide. We all have bad days. If it appears to be a pattern I either point it out privately to the person. or respond more immediately at the time of the incident. Just depends on what I think will work best, and how calm I'm feeling.

I once was put into a very difficult situation by just such an attack. It came from the head of a nonprofit I directed at the time. In that case I knew that approaching that individual privately wouldn't work. I also knew that the relationship would never be a healthy one. We just didn't see eye to eye in to many areas of importance. I ultimately determined my best course of action was to resign, and let the governing board know EXACTLY why and under what circumstances I had done so. This person ended up being badly embarrassed over the incident. They might have even learned a lesson in how to treat people. Maybe.

Another time I was working on a project with my dad to clean out my grandma's (his MIL) house after she died. He just started going off on her, and the hard work we had to do to my brother and I. Really laying into her. After about 5 minutes of this I calmly looked at him and firmly said "This is my grandmother you are cussing about. She just died and I miss her. Cleaning out this house is hard, hot work and you are making it more difficult for everyone. You can either take a walk and come back after you've cooled off, or shut-up and get to work. Either way I don't want to hear any more of your crap." The look I got from my brother and father! Dad took a little walk after that. Now I'm the family rebel ;>)

The best approach to take is whatever works best for you and the situation.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:09 PM   #13
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Nothing even remotely like this has ever happened to me once I graduated from high school fights.

Men don't treat one another this way; and I have never been attacked verbally or otherwise by a woman that I was not married to.

I think I would assume that the person was psychotic and get out of dodge pronto.

Ha
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:15 PM   #14
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Haven't encountered people who personally attack me in a really long time.

This is probably because 1) I live in the Midwest, 2) I am an introvert to a degree, so am not constantly in social situations, 3) I am a really big guy. It happened all the time though until I hit my growth spurt around 11 or 12 though.

I don't know why people feel like it is alright to personally attack anyone.

The last time it happened (from a family member), I remained calm, tried to talk it out, and when the attacks became ridiculous, I walked away. They immediately apologized afterward.

If some stranger did it, or person I did not know well, I would think they were mentally unstable (or insane) and get away from them.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:17 PM   #15
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Nothing even remotely like this has ever happened to me once I graduated from high school fights...I think I woujld assume that the person was psychotic and get out of dodge pronto.
Same here.

I was beginning to think from the thread that it must be pretty common.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:24 PM   #16
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I witnessed a woman about my age just whaling into a man (seemed to be her husband) on an airport shuttle bus a couple of months ago--I have to say it really scared me, she was so caustic, but DH said he enjoyed the drama. I don't know what provoked her as the guy was just nodding his head.

I think family members are often more vicious to each other than to people they are not related to. You always hurt the one you love....
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:24 PM   #17
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Orchid, I'm afraid the irony here is close to funny, even though the behavior is nasty and utterly without class. What you're describing, sounds like the way 13-year-old girls behave. If another old lady criticizes my looks when I'm 70+, I will ask her which of her childhoods she is currently reliving!

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There is a woman at my pool who I've seen viciously attack another lady about the lady having lines in her face (she's 70, so get real cause, of course, she will have some lines). The attacker is so over-Botoxed she actually has changed her German features to almost Asian and looks, frankly, odd.

I've seen same woman attack another lady about the cellulite in her thighs/legs. Granted, the attacker lacks cellulite, but she is about 70 lbs. overweight.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:37 PM   #18
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I witnessed the most bizarre behavior on a recent trip to Florida. Two women were arguing in public and from what I could pick up it looked like they knew each other for quite some time. The next thing I saw was one landing a punch to the face and a vicious fist fight ensued. There was a baby in a stroller right in the middle of the fight. My sister jumped in, rescued the baby and tried separating the women while I screamed for a man to intervene and for them to stop. It was just as bizarre that several men stood by watching these women kill each other. What has society come to? I just could not understand that bystander apathy. Imagine if it was your child been beaten or any relative of yours and no one intervened. Luckily, one of the park workers ran over and stopped the fight. I think my sister put her self in danger but she is a nurse who is used to saving lives and she just could not stand to see the baby in harms way.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:41 PM   #19
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So, after some thought, how do you handle attacks from vicious folks?

Anyone have a better method than what I've been using?
Pepper spray in their face, stick across the shins and a kick ...
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:08 PM   #20
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I'm not sure when this thread went astray, but I mean by "attack" VERBAL abuse and not actual physical violence. How do you handle someone who verbally attacks you with a great deal of vicious hostility that's undeserved?
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