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Provocation

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Provocation

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

  

Description

When a person feels stressed, one way they avoid dealing with the real issues is to provoke others into some kind of reaction. The attention can then be put on the other person and away from the originator's stress.

This is a common response when a person feels guilty about something. By provoking another person, the guilt can then be transferred to that person.

Example

A very common context for provocation is between teenagers and their parents, siblings and teachers. The teenager deliberately does something reprehensible, gets told off, then blames the other person. The pattern also continues in dysfunctional adult relationships.

Provocation is also a common causes of fights, both verbal and physical. A person who needs to affirm their power will provoke a weaker other in order to escalate into a conflict they are confident they can win.

Discussion

Provocation is a great way of avoiding one's own issues by creating more immediate issues for others. The hapless victim is thus distracted from provocateur and into a defensive position.

So what?

When others provoke you, do not rise to the bait!

When you find yourself in an argument, pause to think about how it started. Perhaps it was you doing the provoking. Perhaps it is unclear who started it. But once you know that it is a game, you can decide to de-escalate.

See also

Avoidance, Displacement, Games

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