Three Responses to Silence a Jerk

Facebook is getting more and more abrasive. People will come at you for a link you share to an article that doesn’t even have your byline. I myself am not innocent.  A couple weeks ago a friend of mine shared a political article I found offensive and poorly written. Before I knew it, I was commenting on HIS timeline telling him what HE could and could not post on his own page. Luckily I am not insane. Within seconds I apologized to him, reaffirmed that he could post whatever he wanted to his own timeline, and deleted my irrational comments. He responded with “haha” which almost made me rescind my apology, but I kept my composure.


At any rate, I want to equip you with some strategies for altercations. Most people are completely uncomfortable with conflict. The truth though is that conflict is normal and natural. In fact, conflict is a sign that you have a relationship, not that your relationship is bad. The average couple goes through 182 conflicts a year, each lasting about 30 minutes, with 25 minutes of sulking afterwards. Conflict itself is not bad, but the way you handle it can of course make things no bueno.


The key to engaging in conflict is to remain in power. The person who maintains power, always wins the conflict, or at least can walk away with their head high. Some “do’s” for conflict are to stay calm.


Do not, I repeat DO NOT lose your crap. You can have all the correct information in the world, the second you start raising your voice, or typing in all caps you lose. (I’m looking at you Trump)


Raising your voice is actually a tactic of losers. They feel like they are losing the conflict, and so they start yelling to try and strong-arm you into allowing them to gain control. The problem is they just look erratic. Pipe down, and use your inside voice. It’s actually more effective.


Another conflict “do” is to use facts. People don’t read. I am lucky you are scrolling through this blog. Throw some surveys, statistics, or quotes into this argument and your opponent will most likely be confused. #somanywords. It’s super hard to win an argument if someone else did their homework. Stay calm, show them your flow-chart, and then drop the mic.


Another conflict “do” and a very important one at that, is to know your opponent. Knowing the person behind the message is the biggest tool in your toolbox. Communication theory is actually all hinged on the principle that messages don’t have meaning, people do. If you study the person, if you know their strengths and weaknesses, and then use that information to appeal to a moral high ground, you will have the upper hand. They are dead in the water. #boybye


Now keeping those “Do’s” in mind, here are three responses you can use when a jerk starts coming at you on your own timeline.

  • “K”. –There is nothing more infuriating than someone pouring their heart and soul into an argument, and the other person refusing to engage. Research shows that often withdrawal is an expression of power. Think about it. If you are pissed at your partner, and you walk up to them, game-face on, ready to go, and all they respond to you with is ‘Okay’, there is nothing more enraging than that. Their withdrawal from the conflict, shows that they don’t care enough to argue, and that is a position of power.
  • “I’m sorry I made you feel that way.” –I personally fully believe in apologies. If someone is truly offended by something you said, why not apologize? Your apology will actually allow them to hear your argument better than if you didn’t apologize. Equality in confrontation is important. Allowing someone to feel heard is vital to changing the conversation to go where you need it too. Treat them as if they are a vital contributor to the conversation. If they are sane, they will backtrack. If they are Charlie Sheen, they will rage. In which case hit them with a “K” and get the heck out of there.
  • Hedging- Hedging is a communication technique in which you throw a hedge between you and the conflict. When you say things like, “it could be the case that…” rather than asserting what you know to be true. Research has found that people are actually more receptive to hedges. You would think that distancing yourself from the message makes for a weaker argument, but it actually makes it stronger. It shows that you are in control of this conversation, you don’t think you are beyond question, but you do think there is evidence to suggest you are correct. It also reminds them that you are arguing with a concept and not them personally. The ability to step outside of the argument, and remember that you aren’t necessarily battling each other, but ideas, is crucial in having a spirited but civil discussion.


I hope these tips and tricks will help you take on Jonny the next time he says, “Cash me outside”. Hit him with item 1-3 above before silencing him with, “how bah dah?”

Heather Thompson Day is a Lecturer, and author of 5 Christian books including Life After Eden, available now.
You can follow Heather on IG at HeatherThompsonDay 

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Dr. Heather Thompson Day is an Associate Professor of Communication, and Editor of Envision Magazine at Andrews University. She is the author of 6 Christian books including Confessions of a Christian Wife, available January 2019. You can follow Heather on Twitter or IG at HeatherThompsonDay.

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