One of the most common characteristics of confrontational and hostile individuals is that they project their aggression to push your buttons and keep you off balance. By doing so, they create an advantage from which they can exploit your weaknesses.
If you are required to deal with a difficult individual, one of the most important rules of thumb to keep your cool. The less reactive you are to provocations, the more you can use your better judgment to handle the situation.
When you feel upset with or challenged by someone, before you say or do something you might later regret, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten. In many instances, by the time you reach ten, you would have regained composure, and figured out a better response to the issue, so that you can reduce, instead of exacerbate the problem. If you’re still upset after counting to ten, take a time out if possible, and revisit the issue after you calm down. If necessary, use phrases such as “this is not a good time for me to talk…,” or “let’s deal with this after we cool off…” to buy yourself time. By maintaining self-control, you leverage more power to manage the situation.