Surviving Aggressive People

Surviving Aggressive People

Practical Violence Prevention Skills for the Workplace and the Street

Surviving Aggressive People teaches skills, usually reserved for law enforcement, that allow anyone to detect and deter aggressive behavior before the situation escalates, especially into violence.


SKU: 978-1-59181-005-6 Categories: , ,

Surviving Aggressive People teaches skills, usually reserved for law enforcement, that allow anyone to detect and deter aggressive behavior before the situation escalates and definitely before it results in violence. It is the first book of its kind to offer realistic techniques for preventing violence in public places. Approximately 1 million American workers each year fall victim to violence while at their workplace.

Shawn T. Smith has drawn on his extensive training in the field of psychology and his work with the Guardian Angels to present essential information to a broad, general audience, anyone in the working sector (supervisors, managers, and employees), law enforcement officers, security officers, health care workers, and customer service personnel. It is thoroughly researched, but friendly and easy to read, with plenty of case studies.

Violence and hostility have been steadily invading places once considered safe and secure. Surviving Aggressive People offers readers the verbal and psychological skills they may need to diffuse violent situations before it’s too late.


Praise for Surviving Aggressive People


Reading Shawn Smith’s section on the ‘testing rituals’ of Expert Aggressors, I was fascinated to recognize people I had in fact encountered. Then there were some simple methods and useful phrases for extricating myself in the future. A valuable piece of assertiveness training.

—George J. Leonard, Prof. of Interdisciplinary Humanities,
San Francisco State University; author, Into the Light of Things

This book can save you from being a victim with its practical, simple procedures, well illustrated by numerous case studies and examples.

—Johnny Lee, Workplace Violence Specialist,
North Carolina Office of State Personnel

Who would ever want to boost the self-respect of an overly aggressive person? Psychologist and violence-prevention expert Smith, for one. Why? Because, Smith says, the probability of violence escalates when shame, guilt, or humiliation undermine an aggressive person’s ego. He advocates--and teaches--a stance that lessens that probability without appeasing bad behavior. Like Gandhi he trains “warriors” to disarm their opponents with respect rather than conventional force, using soft rather than hard approaches to violence prevention. His practical psychology rings true; Smith has accumulated years of experience confronting and defusing violence in bars, streets, and rehabilitation programs. He is also a student of martial arts.

The book has four parts: The Ground Rules; Desperate Aggression (and responses of listening, empathizing and providing options); Expert Aggression (which includes terrorism); and The Path to Peace. To oversimplify somewhat, the difference between desperate and expert aggressors is the difference between people who feel like victims and people who prey upon those who act like victims. Smith offers ideas and techniques to deal with both types. This book “is essentially about two life-saving ideas. First is the ability to recognize impending hostility. Second is the willingness to act early...”

Smith uses apt anecdotes and a narrative style that keeps the reader eager, awake, and open to turning old saws into new tools of conflict resolution, e.g. how to maintain boundaries with gentle, confident strength; how to set limits while offering a reasonable option. Smith says that his method builds on things that reside unused in corners of the mind. “Only when we haven’t exercised our knowledge of human behavior do attackers seem to strike ‘out of the blue.’ The truth is, violence is almost always preceded by warning signs.” A moment’s thought is enough to realize that “calm down!” and other scolding and belittling are bad habits that turn annoyances into real problems. A few hours of training may make a huge difference, providing sensible alternatives that turn dangerous situations into peaceful outcomes. Smith provides scenarios that groups (as few as three) can use for role-play exercise.

Smith has read widely and cites excellent resources. Missing, unfortunately is any reference to Gandhian psychology or the excellent books on Verbal Self-Defense by linguist Suzette Haden Elgin. Nonetheless, this book will earn a place with the all-too-few great practical writings on preventing and managing aggression in many contexts.

— E. James Lieberman

Additional information

Product Format


Page Count

234 pages


6 x 9 in.