S4E50: You Can’t Appease an Aggressor; How to Handle Aggressive Situations

Are you overwhelmed by the political climate, difficult people in healthcare, or even the person riding your bumper on the roadway? We take a look at WWII to learn why you can’t appease an aggressor, but also explore techniques to better navigate situations with someone who has anger issues.

In this Episode:

  • 00:00 – Our Sponsor: Tree of Life Memorials and Digital & Stone
  • 00:20 – Intro
  • 02:24 – Nazi Concentration Camps on British Soil
  • 07:56 – History: Why You Can’t Appease an Aggressor
  • 18:32 – Strategies to Navigate an Aggressive Situation
  • 27:36 – Outro
Winston Churchill with his quote: An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." We talk about why you can't appease an aggressor in this episode.

What Does History Teach Us about Appeasing Aggressors?

A map showing the partition of Czechoslovakia, as we talk about aggressors and how they cannot be appeased
Sudentenland (in upper left) was ceded to Hitler in the Munich Agreement of 1938 as a pledge of “peace.” Only one year later, Hitler invaded Poland, igniting WWII.

Marianne shares some interesting facts from WWII that many of our listeners may not be aware of about how early European leaders tried to appease Hitler. The leaders of Britain, France, and Italy agreed to the German annexation of the Sudetenland (an ethnic German-majority region in Czechoslovakia) in exchange for a pledge of peace from Hitler. Czechoslovakia, which was not a party to the Munich negotiations, agreed under significant pressure from Britain and France. Hindsight is 20/20 – we know it did little to stop Hitler’s aspirations. But can we learn from it as we face aggression in the present day?

As Marianne’s college history instructor said, the lesson of WWII was that you can’t appease an aggressor.

We also talked about two other historical figures that had questionable morals regarding Hitler: Pope Pius XII and the late Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII of England.

Strategies for Coping with an Aggressive Individual

If we’re not supposed to appease an aggressive person, then what are we supposed to do?

When you are confronted with a situation in your workplace, home environment, caring for a sick loved one, every move can feel like walking on eggshells. Dealing with someone who has anger issues can be challenging, but there are effective strategies you can employ to navigate these situations. Charlie shares some recommendations.

  • Stay Calm and Avoid Lashing Out: When faced with someone’s anger, try to remain calm and avoid reacting impulsively. Even if it’s difficult, refrain from lashing out in response.
  • Give Space and Communicate: Allow the person to self-regulate by giving them space. Let them know that you’re open to talking once both of you have calmed down. Effective communication is essential during these moments.
  • Set Emotional and Physical Boundaries: Prioritize your own well-being by setting emotional and physical boundaries. Communicate these limits both before and after heated conflicts, rather than during the heat of the moment.
  • Use “I” Statements: Instead of making accusatory statements, express your feelings using “I” statements. For example, say, “I felt sad and scared when you yelled at me.” Be authentic about the impact of their anger on you and the relationship.
  • Follow Up with Requests: After expressing your feelings, follow up with how you’d like to feel and how you’d like to be treated. For instance, say, “I want to feel ___ and I request ___.”
  • Avoid Unhelpful Statements: Refrain from saying things like, “Why are you angry? It’s not a big deal,” or “Stop being so emotional/sensitive/dramatic.”
  • Remember Your Role: When listening to a loved one with anger management issues, remind yourself that it’s not your responsibility to “fix it.” You don’t need to change yourself to avoid or stop their anger.
  • Take a Time-Out: If the situation escalates, call a time-out. Give each other at least 20 minutes to regulate and calm down. Avoid replaying the incident in your mind during this time. Consider taking a walk if possible.
  • Prioritize Safety: Create a safety plan if necessary. Know who you can call and where you can go to leave a dangerous situation. Seek support for domestic violence if needed.
  • Summary: Dealing with anger issues involves staying calm, setting boundaries, using effective communication, and prioritizing safety. Remember that you’re not responsible for fixing someone else’s anger.

Is There Hope for Dealing with an Aggressive Person?

This video shares a few of the above points on how to communicate with someone with anger issues. With calmness, healthy boundaries and communication of expectations, there is hope for some relationships to change. The person with anger issues has to become more aware of their emotions and impact and hopefully come to decide they want to change, not by you trying to make them change. (Which fails every time!)

Looking for something on de-escalation for healthcare providers? This video also has some really good points and scenarios. The takeaway in many healthcare situations is if people perceive a threat, injustice, or loss it can trigger anger and escalate to aggression. By recognizing this, listen and calmly acknowledge their concerns while maintaining safety, the team can often de-escalate the situation.

Sylt Nazi Concentration Camp

A map of the British Channel zoomed into the Sylt camp on Alderny, just west of the northernmost point of France.
A map of the British Channel zoomed into the Sylt camp on Alderny, just west of the northernmost point of France.

Charlie shared a little-known history of a concentration camp on Alderny, a small Island in the British Channel just off the Northern coast of France.

The Channel Islands have a complex relationship with the United Kingdom; while they are dependencies of the British crown, they are located closer to France. Due to their location, Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided in 1940 that Britain couldn’t defend them from Nazi invasion. The Smithsonian Magazine published a story last year about the camps built on the island and the prisoners from Soviet territories and French Jews that suffered there.

Recipe of the Week

Head to Ask Chef Dennis for this Jewish Apple Cake recipe and preparation directions.

This week we are featuring Jewish Apple Cake. The Cake is made with vegetable oil, unlike many American cakes, which are usually made with butter. Because it doesn’t contain any dairy products, the cake can be eaten after a meat meal under the Jewish dietary laws that prohibit mixing meat and milk. Head to Ask Chef Dennis for recipe and preparation directions.



Our Sponsors:

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This episode was sponsored by The Tree of Life Memorials and Digital & Stone – a new platform to create digital memorials, environmental legacies and fine art monuments. Share the Stories, preserve the memories, conserve the land, connect the Souls…. because Love never dies. Find out more at https://www.digitalandstone.com/

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