How to Stand up for Yourself, the Scandinavian Way

You have to know what you’re dealing with to be able to combat it.

A. Aud
7 min readNov 16, 2020


Photo by sippakorn yamkasikorn on Unsplash

So you met a jerk. Standard, happens to the best of us, even multiple times a day if having particularly bad luck. But what if the jerk in question is someone you have to deal with on the regular? A coworker, for instance? Or maybe there is one lurking in your social circle. What if there are multiple jerks battling it out about you or congregating against you? What if they’re not actually jerks, just clueless or unreasonable people masquerading as assholes? Doesn’t matter — one way or another, you need to stand up for yourself, stat.

Most of us react by either ignoring them, getting angry, or getting upset, depending on the situation. But what if I told you that researchers actually formulated counter-strategies to thwart jerk attacks?

Enter the world of master suppression techniques (the aforementioned jerk attacks). Also called domination techniques, they have been first put forth by Norwegian social psychologist Berit Ås in the 1970s. Bringing the problem to light is part of the solution — the rest came later on, as Ph.D. students at Stockholm University proposed some counter-techniques (original article in Swedish). This is the research that inspired this story.

Without further ado, let’s launch into the hypothetical scenario of you having a thoroughly terrible week. I’m going to walk you through five different scenarios and corresponding counter-strategies. That comes down to (at least) a jerk a day, weekend excluded — sounds fun, right?

1. Ignoring

When someone pretends you don’t exist, for instance by doing something else while you are speaking, or trying to shift attention away from you.


It’s Monday morning, and you’re sitting in a meeting. You prepared an amazing presentation and thoroughly stressed about it over the weekend. Your boss is done with his updates, and soon it’s your turn to start speaking.

Right before you begin, Greg announces he’s “just getting some more coffee” and leaves the room. As you talk, you realize half the attendees are looking at their phones more than they are…



A. Aud