How to Respond to Your "Lion"

You’ve probably heard the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” While that traditional wisdom is meant for weather trends, I think we can stretch it to apply to some relationships as well. Do you know anyone who “comes in like a lion” – roaring and ready to devour anyone who gets in their way? Would you like to be able to hold your own when talking with them and possibly calm the situation?

Here are some tips for dealing with “lions” in your life:

Begin with yourself – your attitude, your response. Look past the behavior and see the person as a whole and valuable human being who may be acting out feelings of fear, frustration, anger, hurt or insecurity. Understand that there may be valid reasons for those feelings and try to exercise empathy. This will help you control your response when someone is coming on strong. It’s more natural to retaliate if you feel you’re being attacked, but remaining calm is essential.

Keeping your voice low when emotions rise is a great first step in cooling a potentially heated encounter, and the next step is to diffuse the antagonism with points of agreement. Try creating a bridge in communication with: “I can see why you’re concerned about this,” “I believe we can resolve this in everyone’s best interest,” or “Can we work together to handle this problem?”

While your response should be non-combative, it should also not be characterized by defeat, silent resentment or caving in to unreasonable demands. Avoid playing the part of a defenseless little lamb. Look your “lion” in the eyes when speaking and remember that your position deserves as much respect as theirs. If you have been in an unhealthy pattern of allowing yourself to be steamrolled, standing your ground may initially create a flare up of defensiveness or hostility, but soon your self-respect will generate a more appropriate response from your “lion”.

If you want something to change, change it – Aggressive people are often eager to accomplish goals quickly and are often the ones who initiate contact when a situation arises. For example, your boss summons you into the office or your spouse tracks you down to confront you, and suddenly you are on the defensive. Try this: If you are aware that there’s something you need to deal with, make the first move. Set an appointment to meet with your boss or ask your spouse when he or she can make the time to talk. If you can address an issue before the “lion” becomes frustrated, you may diffuse a potential confrontation before it starts.

It takes practice to change any behavior, including the way you interact with a powerful “lion” personality. But each time you are able to control your attitude and response, and every time you are able to create agreement and respect, the more effective and comfortable your interactions will become.

The “lion” in your life may never become as meek as a lamb, but you can tame the aggression significantly if you practice these tips.

What about you? Do you have people in your life who come on strong like a lion? Have you learned other ways to work or live with them that will help our readers? Leave a comment below to let us know what you do!

Live, Work & Relate Well!

Dr. Todd


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