Have you ever felt overwhelmed and intimidated by a
difficult confrontation involving some strong over reactive emotional
behaviour of someone?
It is an unfortunate reality that we have no
control over events or people that come at us in life. We may find
ourselves in a difficult situation where someone confronts or criticizes
us in an emotionally over reactive way and displays inappropriate
behaviour or attitude in our direction. We have no control over that
person, but we do have control over our response.
When we are faced with a volatile confrontation we
do not need to feel controlled by the emotional behaviour of the other
person. We do have choices as to how we can respond, and instead of
defensively being drawn into a situation we can pause and consider those
Our first decision is whether the cost of engaging
in this confrontational situation is worth the consequences. For
example, is your life or wellbeing at risk because the person is so out
of control that they may use physical violence? It is also important to
take a moment to calm yourself so that your response is not emotionally
overly reactive. To respond in like manner to any confrontation can
escalate the situation and is unproductive.
In such situations I have found the A.C.I.D Process
found in Carol Price’s program Assertive Communication Skills very
helpful and I would like to explain how it works.
A.C.I.D. is an acronym that can be used to
focus your thoughts and enable you to respond in an appropriate manner
to the confrontation
A ACKNOWLEDGE .
Acknowledge what the problem is. This means looking
at what are the facts, what is real and cannot be changed, when the
emotions are set aside.
C COUNTER AND COMPARE
Ask yourself how will this affect the rest of my
life? How important is this to the rest of my life? This brings the
situation into a larger perspective
This stage addresses the mental self talk that
occurs that can lead you down a negative path into thinking that this
situation is the ‘end of the world’ and that you are a lesser being.
Develop a word or phrase that you can use to intercept your mental
negative tape. An example might be ‘These things happen, it’s not the
end of the world, this is only a small blip in my life’.
D DECLARATION OF VALUE
This stage positively affirms who you are and your
value as a person. An example might be ‘I am competent and am worthy of
If you are dealing with criticism you need to
decide are the facts valid or not valid? If the facts are valid can the
criticism be changed or not? If it can’t be changed then the criticism
is likely to re occur.
If the facts are valid you are faced with two
options. Either accept that you made an error and be willing to learn
from it, or dwell on it by either blaming yourself or someone else.
Ask yourself whether you are in better shape to
accept and learn, or accept and blame.
If, on the other hand, the criticism is not valid
or factual and has no real foundation your choices are different. You
can refuse to accept it, let it go and not take it on. Alternatively you
can choose to confront it either aggressively or assertively. If you
confront aggressively the person may very well back off, but
confrontation is likely to continue on a different occasion. By
confronting assertively, calmly using the facts and accountability, you
give back the responsibility to the criticizer. They are more likely to
stop as they know you will respond by assertively using facts.
The A.C.I.D. Process is a useful a tool to use,
enabling you to avoid giving a non productive strongly emotional
response, and approach the situation in a calmer way. Using deep
breathing and other relaxation techniques will also give you the space
and ability to be able to think and respond more appropriately.
Next time you are faced with a difficult situation,
stop to remember A.C.I.D. and choose to respond and not react.