Notes from the Slap Heard Around the World (Or, How Mr. Rock Avoided Being Triggered and You Can, Too)

Last week I had the opportunity to interact with a live audience, which made me happy; taking questions in real time is one of my favorite activities.

One question I received—which is feeling particularly timely– was,

“How can you avoid getting defensive in situations where you’ve been triggered?”

One thing I recommend is a technique used by Chris Rock this past Sunday:

After being slapped—rather than responding or reacting– Chris Rock said,

“Oh Wow, Will Smith just smacked the (bleep) out of me.”

He narrated what had happened rather than reacting to what had happened.

How can you make this work for you in a situation where you feel assaulted?

Let’s say, for example, you are working together with your team to finish a pending project. As the day draws to a close, a colleague says,

“Well, I’m sure you’ll be the first one out the door tonight– as usual!”

In that moment, if you have the presence of mind to say,

“What I hear you saying is that you think I duck out early every day. Is that right?”

Rather than,

“How dare you say I don’t pull my weight??”

This situation is likely to end differently.

Partly, because passive aggressive-types rarely have the nerve to repeat their comment twice: they often default to,

“Oh I was just joking…”

If they do repeat their comment, however, you will have slowed down the situation enough to – as Mr. Rock did– respond rather than react.