When we perceive an attack, either physical or verbal, most of us choose either to fight or run away. In the case of a physical attack these options are straightforward; either fight or run away. In the realm of linguistic conflict, fighting or running away can manifest in more subtile ways, yet the results of such exchanges are often similar.
The physical and linguistic tactics we use in fighting or running away can be seen as action programs in our behavioral repertoire that get triggered by certain situations of perceived aggression. Since over evolutionary time these two action programs have been adequate for social organization in our species, we have no further well-programmed strategies.
One of the basic aims of Aikido is to provide additional action strategies and tactics for remaining present in the face of aggression, yet not only to halt its escalation, but even to help alleviate it. One of the most basic techniques of Aikido "Tai No Henko" seeks to provide a simple exemplar of this strategy in action. Quicktime movie
The Aikido principles in play are, 1) get off the direct line of attack, and 2) blend with the attack in a way that you stay balanced and connected with your attacker. Staying connected with the attacker enables micro-adjustments based on direct experience of what the attacker is doing. Another interesting result of performing this technique physically is that you end up seeing the world from the same perspective as your adversary.
While I have emphasized my belief that physical aikido techniques don't readily transfer as effectively developed tactics in the linguistic domain, I do feel that once the basic principles are experienced physically in training they may point to linguistic exemplars of these Aikido principles. These exemplars are verbal recipes that people can practice in speaking and listening.
In a situation of perceived verbal aggression a great first response is to take a micro-second to locate the mind at the "one-point" in the body just below the navel and breathe deeply into that spot, relaxing the rest of the body. Once accomplished, this tactic opens the door to more choices.
An easy next practice, that would embody the principle of stepping off-line and turning to face the attacker's direction, would be to repeat calmly the words spoken by the perceived adversary, but without an aggressive tone of voice. This buys time while not fighting yet keeping one in the game.
These simple practices put together in action can become a kind of linguistic Tai No Henko, which after sufficient practice can become an additional action program in the behavioral quivver.