How to Maintain Your Composure When Experiencing a Personal Attack

Your ability to maintain your composure when experiencing a personal attack will allow you to deal with the situation without affecting your well-being.

Even if you have not experienced a personal attack, knowing how to maintain your composure is valuable to know and to have in your life skills toolbox.

1-Minute Summary Video

What’s Considered a Personal Attack?

A personal attack includes:

  • Being abused verbally.
  • Receiving a threat.
  • Being intimidated to do something you don’t want to.
  • Being called names.
  • Being ridiculed or humiliated.
  • Being falsely accused of something.
  • Being manipulated emotionally.

With the availability of social media platforms, the likelihood of experiencing a personal attack for sharing your opinion is high.

Things to Remember When Experiencing a Personal Attack

When you experience a personal attack, it’s helpful to remember the following.

  1. The person lashing out often has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with them.
  2. An attack is usually the result of stress or an underlying psychological issue.
  3. Most attacks are an attempt to exert dominance or control.
  4. A person who attacks others usually has a low self-image.
  5. Hurt people hurt people, which means a person who attacks you usually has unresolved wounds.

The better you are at maintaining your composure in all situations, the lower the probability you will experience personal attacks.

maintain your composure

Why Maintain Your Composure When Under Stress

It’s important to maintain your composure when dealing with a personal attack because:

  • How you respond reflects your character.
  • You will gain nothing by attacking your attacker.
  • You will prevent the situation from escalating further.
  • You will manage your emotions better.
  • The way you handle the situation will inform your attacker how to communicate with you.

5 Ways to Maintain Your Composure When Experiencing a Personal Attack

Here are five ways you can maintain your composure when experiencing a personal attack, so you ensure you protect yourself and respond the best way you can.

  1. Stay calm and resist the urge to respond immediately. A technique that will help is to add a pause before you respond. The pause can be a few seconds only, but that will give you enough time to think of an appropriate response. The need to protect yourself will trigger an instinctual response in a tense situation, which may not always be the best response.
  2. Remind yourself you’re about to learn a valuable lesson. Every time you experience a challenging situation, it’s an opportunity to grow and learn something about yourself and others. Ask yourself, “What could this situation teach me and how will it benefit me?”
  3. Know you are not responsible for another person’s actions. You are responsible for your attitude, just as others are for theirs. If it’s out of character for a person to lash out, use your perspective to see the situation from their point of view. Ask yourself, “What could they be going through that’s causing them to behave that way?”
  4. Get to the core of the issue. Behind every attack is a need, preference, or request. Read the situation and avoid interrupting the person if it’s a verbal conversation. You can get to what the actual issue is by asking clarifying questions.
  5. Keep breathing and take deeper breaths. How you breathe in tense situations will affect your heart rate. Deep breathing will help control the fight/flight/freeze stimulus in your body. It will also help you stay relaxed.

What Not to Do When Experiencing a Personal Attack

Here are things to avoid when experiencing a personal attack.

  1. Do not retaliate. You can ignore the attack and respond to it later.
  2. Do not get upset or angry. An emotional response will not help resolve the situation.
  3. Do not change the person’s behaviour or make them wrong during their attack.
  4. Do nothing that can compromise your safely or well-being.
  5. Do not blame yourself or take responsibility for how the person is behaving.

Final Thoughts

Everyone experiences highs and lows based on what’s going on in their lives. Your job is to take care of yourself and not take things personally if you experience a personal attack.

When you can maintain your composure in unpleasant situations, you will not generate stress and feel good about how you deal with them.

Action Step: If you ever experience a personal attack, remind yourself it’s really about the other person. Practice the ideas suggested to maintain your composure so you can deescalate it promptly.

Question: What is another way you can maintain your composure when experiencing a personal attack?

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Neel Raman

Neel Raman

If you’re a leader that wants your team to perform better, get a free copy of my bestselling book, “Building High-Performing Teams” here:

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