Why do people think I am behaving inappropriately

Provocation: How to respond appropriately

Some people use it purposefully, others are not even aware of its behavior: we're talking about the provocation. A provocation aims to provoke a certain behavior in the other person - usually not to their delight. What to do if your teammate provokes you? You will find yourself in such situations again and again. Sometimes a test is hidden behind it in order to be able to better assess your personality. In other cases, unfair motives may play a role. Because if you allow yourself to be provoked, you can also get carried away with unfavorable reactions, which can have a detrimental effect on your own image. How to deal appropriately with provocations ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Provocation Meaning: irritating at any cost?

The term provocation was derived from the Latin of provocare borrowed and means something like "to provoke, to challenge". This describes a behavior that is caused by rule violations and others Crossing boundaries How, for example, insults are intended to induce the other person to also let himself be carried away to careless actions.

The synonym for provocation is:

  • Affront
  • Presumption
  • snub
  • audacity
  • Cheek
  • Challenge
  • Challenge
  • declaration of war
  • irritation
  • Impertinence
  • Insolence

Often a provocation causes the other person to feel insulted or to make him feel himself hurt in his honor feels. The provocator's motives can be different.

In addition to the desire to induce the provoked person to violate the rules as well, the provocation can dem Desire for demarcation spring from others.


This motive can, for example, form the basis of an illegal car race. Someone who tends to be overall in his essence feels insecure and inferior, challenges another driver. He does this by revving his engine at the red light. In this way he signals how much horsepower his car has and that he is willing to use the full power of his car when jumping to green, in order to be the first to reach the imagined goal in any case.

In order for the calculation to work out, a provocation always needs two participants: one who provokes and one who can be provoked. These explanations of provocation all assume that the provoking a little benevolent intention tracked.

Be provoked: Avoid escalations

There are also cases in which difficult, easily irritable personalities do something feel as a provocation, but completely overreact. An example of this is the phrase "What are you staring at so stupid ?!", which can often be heard among youngsters in schoolyards, but also beyond.

Such situations are a chapter in their own right because these people are just looking for an occasion to purposely misunderstand something and then Use violence to be able to.

In some professions are employees particularly at riskto come into contact with such groups of people. For example who ...

  • Has access to cash, valuable goods or opiates,
  • carries out control and inspection tasks based on official authority,
  • works in advice centers and offices such as the job center,
  • works in social institutions or prisons and has to do with addicts, mentally disturbed people or other behavioral problems,
  • works at publicly accessible individual workstations or directly in the customer's private rooms.

What happens in the event of a provocation? Feelings cloud the mind, it is overridden and the provoked is inclined to follow the first impulse. On the one hand this is human, on the other hand dangerous: Not always verbal failures and whoever reacts incorrectly will be injured or punishable in the worst case.

Occupational groups that are particularly at risk usually complete a De-escalation training, for example police officers or employees in the security area. This means that they know all the tricks, how difficult groups of people try to provoke them and have learned to deal with them appropriately.

Tips for dealing with provocations

Not every provocation to which you give in has to lead to one foot in jail. But you should Essence of provocations make aware: Another person is trying to exercise control over you through their behavior. Nobody but you should have control over you - unless you give it up voluntarily.

There are some tips on what to do if someone provokes you. Against the background of some undesirable side effects, however, these are not so much meant as a series of steps. Each provocation can look different, there is no general recipe.

For verbal attacks - as they are probably more common in the office environment - you need something different than when you run the risk of the provocateur being violent. It is therefore up to you to choose the appropriate remedy in the event of a provocation:

  • Stay calm.

    The most important tip is also the most difficult. How am I supposed to stay calm when I'm at 180? The trick is not to react, at least not immediately, but if at all, then delay. In most cases, your opponent will not like this, because he usually wants you to let yourself be carried away to something out of affect. Take a deep breath in and out while counting to ten.

  • Get out of the situation

    Psychologists refer to this as an exit strategy. As in any conflict, provocation gives you the opportunity to change something, to accept it, or to leave it. This also includes not engaging in any discussion, but ending the conversation as politely as possible: “It seems to me that we have left the objective level. Under these conditions I am not prepared to discuss the matter further. "

  • Reflect on the situation

    Because that gives you the time you urgently need to get an idea of ​​the situation in the first place. At the moment, however, when you think the whole thing through logically, you usually find out about the provocateur. They recognize that the supposedly obvious action is not good advice and thus have the chance to decide against it.

  • Use your body language

    Posture often signals something of a person's self-image. Those who walk through the corridors with a straight upper body, stand upright in the room or sit in a chair and look openly at the person opposite appear much more self-confident than someone who has slumped and / or cannot look people in the eye.

  • Assess the provocation

    Do you see whether your colleague is possibly right in what he said about you? Some unfortunate criticism is perhaps not intended to be a provocation, but rather puts a finger in a wound. Not everyone can criticize constructively. In this case, in a quiet minute, you should point out to the colleague that the way was wrong. You should also make it clear that you have understood the point of criticism and will take it to heart.

  • Return the cue ball

    For advanced learners, verbal counterattacking is the order of the day, the quick-wittedness required for this can be trained. If your colleague wants to show you clearly and attacks you unjustifiably in a meeting, for example, you have to react. For such situations, you should prepare a few reactions in advance:

    • Ask your counterpart directly what he is aiming for with this provocation. This shows that you can see through him and his game, but are not willing to play along.
    • Use irony to point out inappropriate behavior or incorrect information: Thank you for letting us share your opinion. Or: I would be happy to explain the matter to you again in peace.
    • Intentionally misinterpret something, for example when someone suggests that something can never work like this: You're absolutely right, it doesn't work that way. So my idea is to go about it this way ...

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22nd September 2020Author: Anja Rassek

Anja Rassek studied, among other things, German language and literature at the WWU in Münster. She worked for community radio and a publisher. Here she devotes herself to topics relating to the office, everyday work and studies.

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