The Verbally Agressive Student

These students become verbally abusive in frustrating situations which they see as being beyond their control. Anger and frustration can become displaced from those situations to you, and it helps to remember that the anger is not directed at you personally.

  • Acknowledge his/her anger and frustration (e.g., "I can see that you are angry").
  • Rephrase what he/she is saying and identify his/her emotion (e.g., "I can see how upset you are because you feel your rights are being violated and nobody will listen"). If you feel comfortable doing so, allow him/her to ventilate and tell you what is upsetting him/her.
  • Reduce stimulation. Invite the person to your office or other quiet place (if you are comfortable doing so). Speak calmly and quietly.
  • If you become alarmed:
  • Tell him/her that you are not willing to accept his/her verbally abusive behavior (e.g., "When you yell and scream at me that way, I find it hard/impossible to listen").
  • If the person is too close, tell him/her to please move back (e.g., "Please stand back; you're too close").
  • Help the person problem-solve and deal with the real ssues when he/she becomes calmer.
  • Get into an argument or shouting match.
  • Become hostile or punitive yourself (e.g., "You can't talk to me that way!").
  • Press for explanations or reasons for his/her behavior (e.g., "I'd like you to tell me exactly why you are being so obnoxious").
  • Look away and not deal with the situation.
  • Sacrifice your own rights as a person.