Silhouette of women having an argument
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"A sniper can't snipe if there's nowhere to hide," says Rick Brinkman, the co-author of Dealing with People You Can't Stand. "Since her limited power is derived from covert activity, once you've exposed her position, that position becomes useless." To do that, you have to cart out the big hammer that most women hope to leave in their toolbox: confrontation. Yet according to Brinkman, the head-to-head doesn't have to get nasty and can be accomplished with one of three approaches:


  • Stop, look and backtrack ("Did you just call me stupid?")
  • Ask "searchlight" questions ("When you say x, what are you really trying to say?")
  • Go on grievance patrol (by requesting a private meeting with anyone who might be harboring a grudge). "If the grievance is just," says Brinkman, "acknowledge its validity and admit to a mistake." Then say something like "If you ever have a problem with me again, I encourage you to come and talk."

Carter agrees that it's best to take the attacker to the side: "People who embarrass you in front of a group use the group for their power." When you go one-on-one, "the person learns to have respect for you because she knows you'll confront her." He suggests that after you corner the antagonist, you say, "Do that to me again and I will have a little surprise for you." If she ignores your warning and tries it once more, greet her with: "There you go again trying to embarrass me in front of everyone. Can't you think of a more professional way to handle yourself?"

Next: Learn how to defend yourself from the attack

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