The Dangers of Redirected Aggression in Humans

When people are having a tough time, frustrated or unhappy it can bring out the worst in them.

Facebook can be a great tool for people to use, especially when building a business or keeping in touch with friends or family. So why is it sometimes such a toxic place?

“She is such a kind dog trainer, she would never say that”…That is until last Tuesday!

Aggression takes many forms, but one of the most dangerous is redirected aggression, one which we see alot in frustrated, anxious or sometimes over excited dogs.

– But my dog never bites!

Let’s take a normal dog, one which the owner swears blind it would never bite another dog. But when frustrated it attacks, attacks another dog that is in its pathway. The behaviour seems out of the ordinary. To many dog owners a surprise.

– People react in different ways

People like dogs “react” to the environment around them and often one dog trainer or walker, who’s having a hard time, who’s become over frustrated may comment inappropriately on another’s post and then may take this further by engaging aggressively on their business pages, groups or timeline, the equivalent of a lunge.

– Out of the ordinary?

It doesn’t matter if they were previously friends or even great business connections Instead of thinking things through the professional simply reacts. In dogs this can be a bite, online this can lead to real mental damage. I know because I’ve been there.

– Real damage

If you’re not careful, you could be the next to be attacked. Leaving you to question your whole career and in my case fall into a severe state of depression.

– Community is everything

In our community Pet Professional Network (Members only) we are doing our best to keep morale up, to keep those becoming frustrated away from each other.

– A tall order you could say?

That’s where our dedicated admin and team step in, we help professionals to understand why they are feeling particularly uneasy at the moment and teach them coping mechanisms, so they don’t have to redirect onto others. I’m pleased to say it’s such an amazingly supportive community.

– Positive reinforcement for people!

Like dog training we also employ lots of positive reinforcement, accountability posts, motivation, success stories, a daily dose of positivity with some simple and effective tasks to keep their businesses thriving in the current climate.

– Feeding off each other’s frustrations

We don’t let this redirected aggression to begin in the first place and we encourage our Members not to feed off one anothers frustration.

But occasionally, some Members find it harder to cope. That’s where I step in. I’m here to mentor, coach and offer a solution. I encourage them to lean in, take the conversation offline.

– I’ve been personally attacked

Sometimes (very rarely) this can mean some people redirect towards me. I’m quite happy to say none of our Members, but recently I’ve seen a few select individuals attack my business. This is simply not on. Putting my family, my reputation at risk.

See none of us are are safe from the ‘firing line’ redirected aggression can happen to any of us, at anytime. But particularly now during the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

– What information do we have?

But the most important thing we need to take away from this, is this redirected aggression is a form of information. The professional is trying to express something to you.

– Distance away or come closer

A warning that this behaviour will continue if you stay close to them, that could be following their posts, or even allowing them to post on your timeline. Most of these professionals aren’t looking to ruin your business, in fact many don’t even understand their own actions. Like some bites it is shallow and a means of just decompressing the frustration or uncertainty that is going on in their mind. But try to explain this to other dog trainers, other dog walkers who have seen the posts, read the comments.

– We need to pay more attention

It’s so important that we pay attention. Often it’s a cry for help. Like when we ask “what is the dog trying to tell us” what is the human trying to tell us?It doesn’t mean the person is nasty or a bad person. After all I’m sure in the past you’ve been aggressive in some form or another?

Work on distancing yourself from said person or even reach out to help them. Yes it’s actually very hard to reach out to someone who’s been spiteful or rude to you, someone who’s actively attacked you. But as above sometimes their actions are out of character.

– Sometimes they are having a real hard time too

Don’t take it personally. Don’t blame yourself. At times like this, we all need to reach out to support each other. That may mean taking a moment to understand the motive behaviours, distancing yourself or offering more support.

Thanks for reading,
Helen Motteram

Founder and Manager of PPN

With reference to: dogs and redirected aggression 2020, Helen Motteram 2019, local Business Network 2018.

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