For most people, a physical altercation is something to be avoided at all costs. There are those, however, who love nothing more than starting a fight when they’re angry. While it can be tempting to knock some sense into a loudmouth who just won’t quit, a fight will introduce far more complications than it solves. The next time you’re faced with a person of questionable intelligence who just won’t back down, try these ten methods of avoiding a fight.
- Don’t Give Them What They Want – More than a bloody nose or a round in the dirt, most violent and angry people want attention. The best way to avoid a fight with an attention-driven opponent, therefore, is to simply deny them the attention they’re seeking.
- Keep Your Own Emotions in Check – It’s easy to avoid a fight when you’re calm and collected, but it’s a much bigger challenge when you’re also struggling with your own temper. If you let your emotions get the better of you, you’re less equipped to diffuse the situation. Even if you’re offended or furious, try to stay sane and rational until you can put some distance between you and your antagonist.
- Give Up On Being Right – There are few things more infuriating than trying to get a point across to someone whose intellectual capacity just won’t allow them to see the light. You can shout them down until you’re hoarse, but you’re not likely to change their opinion. You know the person you’re arguing with isn’t so bright, so leave it at that. You don’t have to be formally acknowledged to be correct.
- Get Some Space – There’s usually no good reason for staying put when you’re trying to avoid a fight. Even if you’re able to diffuse the situation and talk your opponent down for the moment, you’re still standing next to a powder keg until you leave the area. Since you’re going to need to put some distance between you and your opponent anyway, why wait? Walk away and save yourself some headache.
- Apologize – Even if you’re in the right, what will you actually lose by dishing out an apology to smooth things over to avoid a fight? In these situations, you can be right, or you can avoid getting punched. The latter is usually the way to go.
- Step Back – If you’re committed to solving the argument without resorting to violence, keep a few feet of distance between yourself and a not-so-bright combatant while you try to talk it out. You’re less likely to see an attack coming, or avoid a punch, if your opponent is in your face.
- Watch Your Language – While you want to avoid cursing at someone when you’re trying not to fight, this isn’t the only kind of language of which you need to be aware. Using phrases like “calm down” or “you’re being ridiculous” are counterproductive to your aims. Instead of using accusatory language to bring things down a notch, use phrases which imply mutual culpability. “Let’s talk this over” or “we should take it easy” includes both of you, and can be more effective.
- (Don’t) Put Up Your Dukes – Make a conscious effort to mind your body language, keeping your hands in a non-threatening, palms-out pose. Be sure you’re not making a fist without thinking, because this sends the signal that you’re ready to throw down.
- Watch Your Back – If you’re going to walk away and the situation is still tense, be careful about turning your back to your opponent. This gives them an opportunity to attack from behind, and you less of a chance to defend yourself. Back away until you have plenty of room.
- Assume Your Opponent is Armed or Trained – If you’re having a tough time convincing yourself that violence isn’t the answer, remember this: you have no idea if the idiot with whom you’re arguing is carrying a weapon. Assuming everyone in a potential altercation is armed is a great way to get your priorities back in line, so you can talk your way out of a sticky situation. Also, keep in mind you don’t know how much combative training this idiot has had. He could be a black belt in jiu jitsu and you could find yourself in a bad position very quickly.
At best, you’ll be walking away from a situation with the potential to end in stitches or criminal charges. A worst-case scenario can have far more permanent implications. While it may hurt your pride a bit to let your opponent “get away” with causing a scene, your pride will recover and you’ll experience no lasting effects from choosing not to fight.