Reflections on Aggression

This week I was verbally abused by someone in my work place (not a fellow-worker). There was a trivial, piddling matter last week which she felt that I had not resolved the way that she would have resolved it. She held onto her anger for six days, then approached me. She had no desire to engage in a discussion and resolve the trivial matter, she only wanted to attack me. She left me with no room to speak at all. She attacked my character, my professionalism and my ability to make decisions. She finished by telling me that she would take the matter over my head to my administration team. This was when I finally got to speak. All I said was “That sounds like the best thing to do. Go to the admin team, go there now.” When she left I was shaking; my hands, my legs, my confidence were all shaking.

I work in a very supportive environment. She was just as abrupt when she got to the admin team. They were incredulous when they saw her reaction to such a minor issue. As a result of her behaviour she has been sent a warning letter. If there is another event she will be banned from our grounds. If she breaches this we have the right to involve the police.

All of that is academic. It is straight forward and an easy procedure to follow. This does not begin to describe the way I am feeling. I do not understand aggressive behaviour, and in truth I have no motivation to begin to understand it. I find it unpredictable, without logic, as such I cannot plan for what may happen next. I cannot prepare myself for how this person may repsond to any situation. My solution would be to put myself into a place where I would simply not cross paths with her ever again, but this is not an option. I will have to deal with her for the rest of this year. Today I was going to the shop and I found myself worrying that I may see her there and wondering how I would deal with that. I know that with the benefit of time this will disappear, but right now I just don’t want to deal with it.

Maybe Silverchair said it best:
No more maybes
Your baby’s got rabies
Sitting on a ball
In the middle of the Andes
Yeah, I’m a freak of nature
Yeah, I’m a freak…… What ever that means!


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13 responses to “Reflections on Aggression

  1. precious pink pumps

    It is shocking and distressing when someone is aggressive. It is upsetting when they then also attack you personally. Sometimes I think the personal attacks hurt more than if they just punched you! My mother told me about a similar incident (and she works in a similar environment as you do) and it is always shocking to hear people react in such volitile ways when the issue could be resolved peacefully with a little bit of LISTENING and sharing views and perspectives.
    It is important to remember that these people CANNOT resolve things in a constructive way and their aggression is not about you. It is NEVER about YOU it is always about THEM.
    If she did happen to see you at the local Coles, she would probably give you a dirty look and move on…what she is REALLY angry at has been with her for a long time and it doesnt’ sound like she has been busy making plans to deal with the real issues.
    I am sorry you had to experience this. xxxx Jen

  2. Vicki W

    I agree with Jen – it’s not about you. This person is attacking you because she can – he anger is coming from somewhere else and she is unable to address that real source. You do need to be careful though, people like this just continue to breed internal anger. Be sure to tell someone if you feel that you may be at risk of physical harm. I don’t know what type of work you do, but no job warrants that type of treatment. Sounds like you need to sewing therapy this weekend…and some chocolate and (if you partake) an adult beverage or two.

  3. kirsty

    I would have been a whimpering howling mess! I really don’t cope with other peoples anger very well at all. But what has helped me is remembering that anger is really a manifestation of FEAR. At my best, I can identify the fear and help placate it – end of anger.If not,I try to see the angry person for the quivering wreck that they really are and it takes some of the sting away!!

  4. Sussanah

    When I get mad
    And I get pissed
    I grab my pen
    And I write out a list
    Of all the people
    That won’t be missed
    You’ve made my shitlist

    For all the ones
    Who bum me out
    For all the ones
    Who fill my head with doubt
    For all the squares who get me pissed
    You’ve made my shitlist


    L7 shitlist the ultimate cranky song!

  5. Stomper Girl

    Yay you! You gave a great response. You behaved as a calm and professional and GROWN-UP person. You deserve a medal.

    Like the others said, the aggression was about HER not YOU. But I totally sympathise with how rotten and shook up you feel by being at the receiving end. I’d be exactly the same, if not worse and in tears. No-one needs to be spoken to like that. Bad lady, bad lady. Good Tracey.

  6. Molly

    As I read this I was thinking, its not so much about you as about her, and wondering what got her so mad that she was lashing out at you. Felt good that everyone else thought likewise! You can only control your own behaviour, and you did so like a champ. Her behaviour is her problem…

  7. nutmeg

    Yes. I agree. It is about her and her fear and her inapproprite way of dealing with it. And this is ALL good stuff to know upon reflection; when you have some distance from the event.

    But I know what you are saying about your feelings during the event and if you should have to see her again – either professionally or “down the street”. There’s the rub. There’s the test. And it is a not pleasant. But you have already done so well – you remained calm. And I suppose – even though you are all a’jumble inside – this IS the best response. But I feel for you in such a awkward/awful situation.

    It reminds me of a bully’s actions really – bluff, bluster and threats – and once they see they haven’t got the response they want they generally “run away”. So this could happen?

    Also, I had an “uncomfortable” run-in with a co-worker. I had to continue working with her and I thought I cannot do this unless everything is out in the air and discussed calmly. My boss got her to agree to a discussion with her, myself and my bross present (to mediate). It sorted it out “enough” for everyone to continue on.

    But remember, like everyone has said here – it certainly is all about her and stuff she is probably avoiding dealing with and taking it out on others.

  8. caramaena

    Ah Tracey, that’s a horrible thing to have to deal with. *hugs*

  9. h&b

    Oh – how horrible !! :((

    She does sound like a right nutter though, and you handled it well. Better than I would have !

    I hate workplaces where I don’t walk in with my head high and heart full every morning.

    I hope she leaves voluntarily soon …

  10. Aunty Evil

    Methinks that if you take Silverchair’s word for it, you will end up even more confused!

    Sorry you had to endure that Tracey, make yourself a nice quilt with her face on it, then when your new machine comes in, sew a line right up the middle of her face!

    Then it will look like an arse, not that she needs any help with that, by the sound of it.

  11. meggie

    Some good advice here from others- I got a laugh out of Aunty’s idea!
    I know that jellied trembling feeling after an incident like that.
    You dealt so well with it all, & nice to know you had support.

  12. Tracey Petersen

    Jen- you are right. she cannot resolve things
    vicki – lots of sewing done with my new millie
    kirsty – she is frightened of losing control of her children…maybe???
    sussanah – i should have just asked you for a song to express my disgust – you know all the songs of disgust!
    stomper – i was outwardly clam, which did not give her the response she wanted
    molly – OH YEAH she has problems!
    nutmeg – this ‘bluff, bluster and threats – and once they see they haven’t got the response they want they generally “run away”‘ is exactly what happened!
    caramaena – thanks
    h&b – my heart was full, until that very moment
    aunty – arse-face is fantastic!
    meggie – I had every confidence in the support I woudl get from the admin team – it made a difference

  13. di

    Tracey – so sorry to hear of your situation. It’s awful when that happens and probably worse seeing you have to still deal with her. I had a client abuse me over the phone for something that wasn’t my fault and like you I was calm on the outside…shaking on the inside. There is just no reason for rudeness or aggressiveness. Hope you are feeling better soon.

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