How do we best deal with the aggressions of our fellow human beings, especially in a professional context? Aggression hurts, leaves us bewildered and irritated, and all too easily we react just as aggressively. But aggression does not get us anywhere in conversational situations and creates an atmosphere of distrust and rejection. Meaningful communication only develops in a respectful environment in which listening and empathy have their place.
The Arguments Against Aggression (AAA) project aims to provide assistance to public sector workers who feel exposed to aggressive communication. At the start of the project, all experts agreed that aggression should not be answered with aggression, but that special skills are required to objectify such situations. But can such skills be trained? Yes, they can, the experts agreed. For this reason, AAA partners from seven European countries (Germany, Greece, Austria, Slovenia, Spain, The Netherlands, and Slovakia) first collect statements and prejudices that are directed against people in an aggressive, disparaging or even insulting way.These are checked for their factual content in order to be able to answer with facts instead of aggression.
In the next step, a guideline to de-escalating communication is to develop from it, linked to learning units, how it can be dealt with aggression.
(Special thanks to our AAA colleague Ruth de Frutos for the picture of the first AAA meeting in Vienna (February 25-26, 2019)