handling offensive behavior

Whenever possible, express your feelings about offensive behavior from a positive rather than a negative perspective. Negative expressions state your dislike, as in “I hate you when you do that,” “You make me angry,” “You make me feel insecure and unloved,” or “You’re insensitive and overbearing.” You can be more effective if you focus on the common goals and the shortcomings of the interaction, rather than your hatreds.

Goal oriented statements might be, “I think that your behavior and my reaction to it are preventing us from having a pleasant relationship.”

You might try new ways to express your feelings, using metaphors on describing the concrete aspects of your emotional reactions. Thus you might express embarrassment by the metaphor “I feel naked and exposed,” or express conflict by “I feel my head spinning in two directions at once.” Striking metaphors may produce a greater impact than the accustomed “emotional words” that have been worn out in your interchanges with others.

Sharon and Gordon Bower, Asserting Yourself