The following are the steps to one way of dealing with negativity:
- Avoidance, Precaution, Distancing
- Compliance, Cooperation, Compromise
- Fight or Flight, Negativity Mirroring, Ejecting
Avoidance is a small amount of distancing or moving away from the subject. When a person has done something that is negative towards you, the first order of business is to try and alleviate any kind of hostility in the easiest form possible. That easiest way would be to move away a little bit. Moving away means sending a message to the person "I mean no harm, but I will leave if I have wronged you in some way". It also sends a message that you do not appreciate the behavior. Moving away, angular distance, closed body language, angular cut off, turning away attention, disengaging conversation, etc. are all forms of distancing either physically or verbally in some level.
It is important to move away just a little bit. Excessive avoidance will consume excess resources as well as send conflicting messages. If you're at a party and some guy hit you on the shoulder a little to hard as his way of making a joke, you don't want to leave the room or start running to the other corner of the room. If you're engaged in conversations with other people, that will interrupt your conversations and it will take time and energy resources to reestablish those connections in another scene. They guy might also have been joking, so it's important to let him know that it's not funny in a subtle way. He might have just had awkward social skills. In this case excessive avoidance will result in opportunity cost such as sacrificing a wing man. In this case subtle distancing should send the appropriate message, that is at the same time not too much.
The next order of business is an attempt at compliance. The hostility might have been a result of your own mistake, in which case you should correct it. Took somebody else's seat, took somebody else's drink, mispronounced somebody's name, forgot to give somebody a hug, etc. It is weird that hostility might be the result of forgetting to give the girl a hug, or compliment her on her dress at the appropriate time. However think about it, if a girl went through all the time of looking great for a special night, and you didn't compliment her. You're lucky she's not just leaving but still sending you a message of some sort. Without the avoidance step, this might come off as supplication or nice guy behavior. These steps work in sequence with each other. The avoidance step first, has ensured that you are not supplicating. If the person is still pursuing you with hostility, the aspect of pursuance, has not bestowed you the upper hand. Now that you realize you forgot to give her a good night kiss or use foreplay, you can now go ahead and do so without coming off as a nice guy.
In a casual setting, compliance with members of the opposite sex in a personal relationship will often if not primarily, take a sexual form of some kind. When dealing with members of the opposite sex, you can be sure that a conflict will often result because of a sexual inconsistency. Not holding her hand as often as you used to, not hugging her as much as you used to, looking at other girls, neglecting her etc. Those are all signs which will often get a girl hostile, that is if she doesn't leave ahead of time. It is actually a good thing that she is hostile, rather than just leaving you and not giving you a second chance. There is a common misconception that hostility is a sign of rejection. It could be, but it's not always. Having used the avoidance step, and having had the girl pursue you further, allows you to proceed to cooperation without risking over-approaching or violating your territory.
Once you've implemented avoidance, and had the person still pursue you, an advantage in social status and image is achieved. Being on the receiving end allows you to pursue the person in return to solve the problem and move on to a higher level of intimacy in return. The types of behaviors would usually be flirting, teasing, complimenting, hugging, touching, hand holding etc. If she is continuing to hit you, you now have permission to hold her hand because she has initiated physical contact. Defense is important and is covered in the third and last step. However, it is important to first pursue an attempt at intimacy, just in case that was the problem. If lack of intimacy was the problem, intimacy instead of defense, will not only solve the problem, but also get both people exactly what they want.
In a casual setting with members of the opposite sex, conflicts will often be resolved with sexuality or intimacy. Women skipping this step are often perceived as bitchy. Men skipping this step are often perceived as jerks when they put too much emphasis on the first avoidance step or the third step of retaliation. The first step of avoidance, allows you an attempt at conflict resolution which is your main goal in any conflict. The process of slight avoidance or distancing allows you to switch to engage or approach the person in return without overstepping your boundaries.
Fight or Flight
The last step of fight or flight is the process of making sure that your compliance is not taken advantage off. You should always remember that resolution is your ultimate goal in any conflict. However, situations will occur where you will not be able to resolve a conflict, or your date will be irate because of other external reasons. In such a case it is important to have a process of making sure that you are not taken advantage of while it indeed is not your fault. Having practiced avoidance first and cooperation second, having now ensured that you are first not attacking the person and second innocent. The assumption is that you have complied properly, and secondly if they are still attacking you, they are consenting to the counter attack. At the same time, there is a level of hostility which is allowed when implementing the counter attack.
The negativity from you should be in accordance to the type and level of negativity from the person. Verbal negativity should be responded to with verbal negativity, not emotional. Emotional negativity should be imitated with emotion accordingly also. If the person doesn't see the connection between their negativity and yours, you will be perceived as hostile rather than sympathetic. Identify what type of negativity the person is expressing: insults, derogatory, criticism, swearing, frowning etc.
Mirror the negativity, but not the attack. You want to come across as being similar, not hostile yourself. For example, if the girls is swearing at you, you might try swearing also, but not at her, instead at an inanimate object. This will not lead to a fight, but it will make you feel like you both are in a similar state of mind.
Once you've me the person on their level, the next step is to turn the interaction hospitable by gradually decreasing the intensity. You would start of with a level that is a little bit lower than her own. This is called pacing. Gradually, as you feel her coming more and more on your side, start decreasing the level of intensity. Don't decrease too suddenly that she will explode back up again, but use a pace so that she's still in sync and mirroring your body language. If she does explode, follow back up with step one.
Circus Animal Training Example
A similar process is seen with animal trainers and the lion in the circus. As the trainer approaches the lion, the first order of response is backing off. This is avoidance. As the lion runs out of room, it will sit and bow down. This is a form of submission or obedience. If the trainer pursues, the lion will get up and start approaching the trainer up to the point where the trainer backs off. This is all a process of the lion using it's instincts in responding to hostility used by animal trainers to make it look like the trainer is telling the lion what to do.