So if you're faced with a situation like I was a few weeks ago at my son's sports class, here are 3 immediate things you can do to give your brain space to think and react accordingly.
See how I said ACCORDINGLY? The first order of things is to make sure that your anger isn't on display!
Let's say you're being reproached or reprimanded for doing something that you think is within your rights, or that isn't disturbing someone. Your initial reaction is probably a frozen one.
From that frozen moment, do the following.
Yes, sounds counterintuitive, but the moment you come back to earth and realize what they said, you're going to feel anger, resentment, shame, embarrassment, etc. Mostly negative emotions. You need to somehow push back against those so they don't swallow you up. Smiling also trips the other person up because they're EXPECTING a very different reaction.
Ok, so then after you put up that smile and you've deflected their words, what do you do?
REPEAT WHAT THEY SAID.
As introverts, we need time to assess a situation and how we're going to respond to it, so let's buy some time. Repeat back as a statement what they said to you. Level with them so they hear what they told you. Some people will realize how unreasonable their request is and will back off. In any case, once you say it back, I can almost guarantee you that they'll say more than just "yes". They'll keep going - I'm assuming here that they also have a lot they want to say. This buys you even more time to think about how to reply.
Ok, now that you've collected yourself better, make sure you have an answer to these questions.
REPLY WITH THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS.
The moment the conflict arises, make sure you have in the back of your mind the following questions. Your answer to them is your reply to the person.
Did I do something wrong? If yes, then explain what your thought process was in simple words without any emotional outbursts. If no, go to the next question.
Why do they feel this way? We're great observers and very self-aware so we can easily put ourselves in someone else's shoes. We can immediately figure out why this person was ticked off. Once we pinpoint it, address their grievance the way you would a toddler. When my son has a full-on tantrum and is coming for me, I immediately deflect by stating what he's feeling and why. By defining an emotion and labeling it, the person will feel understood.
How can I resolve this so I walk away unconflicted? This is the trickiest question to answer, but by now you should feel calmer inside. This is the part where you either choose to continue with the action/behavior that pissed the other person off (stand your ground) or you decide to apologize and stop. Only you know what will leave you feeling at peace. Many times I feel better when I apologize, but other times, it makes sick to my stomach because I didn't hold on to my principles.
I'd like to use a recent incident that was in the news to illustrate how this would work in the real world.