You’re young, and you have a lot of passion about the events going on in the world right now, so it’s hard not to engage someone when they start spewing nonsense right to your face. Whether it’s that one guy in the dorms who  thinks he knows everything or someone showing their ignorance at a bar toward your friend, it’s tempting to let your temper get the better of you.

Don’t do it. When a fight happens, the authorities usually don’t care about how you were verbally provoked. All they know is that fists started flying and now someone’s hurt. You can easily end up in handcuffs and charged with assault.

So, how can you wrestle your temper down before it gets you into trouble? Try these tips from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Let your silence speak for you. Not immediately responding to what someone’s saying can have more than one benefit for you. First, your silence won’t feed the other party’s narcissism. If someone’s trying to provoke you, silence can throw them off a beat. Second, it gives you time to think about what you should say — if anything.
  • Breathe deeply and focus your attention elsewhere. Some people are just not worth your time, so don’t give them energy. Instead, focus on relaxing your muscles, think about something else and concentrate on your own mental well-being.
  • Walk away and look for ways to avoid a repeat encounter. When you walk away, you’re doing yourself a favor, not the other party. Once you’re out of a situation, decide the best way to land there again — even if that means pretending the other party doesn’t exist.

If you do end up provoked into a fight and find yourself facing charges, make sure that you take the right steps to protect your future. A criminal conviction now could have a big impact on your life later.

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