Do others call you aggressive, unassertive or assertive?
Category: Dealing with difficult situations
And what do they mean?
What behaviours do they see to make them say that and what’s the difference?
I’d describe being assertive as the ability to state your case or point of view in a way that means you’re heard while still being in a position to hear what the other person has to say.
On this basis I’d say being unassertive is not being able to state your case at all and being aggressive is being able to state your case but not listening to the other person’s view.
So, having defined the three, I think (whoever you are) that you’re probably all three! It depends … on who you’re talking to and the situation you’re in!
Let me explain …
If you’re feeling emotional it’s hard to be assertive. In that instance you’re likely to turn the emotion onto the person you’re speaking to and speak out in anger; or turn in on yourself and speak to yourself in anger. Either way you’re unlikely to be listening to the other person.
If you’re in a burning building and are the fire warden you might be aggressive and rightly so! I don’t want you to discuss the right route out with me … listening to my point of view … I want you to clearly and loudly direct me out of the building.
If you’re speaking to someone who reminds you of a particularly aggressive teacher you might find yourself reverting back to how you were as a child and find it hard to be assertive in the conversation.
And, of course, some people don’t like conflict and will try to avoid it. When it looks like there might be conflict, they’ll back down or not state their point of view in the first place.
However, although the situation and other person will help to determine your behaviour there are some things you can do to be more assertive more of the time, which will usually bring a better outcome for you.
Firstly … remember to breath. Deep breaths in and longer breaths out will help to control your emotions. If you can’t, in the moment, try to remove yourself from the situation until you’re calmer. Ask for a 5-minute break … you’ll probably both benefit from the time out.
Secondly, try to minimise future conflict. If you’re asking someone to do something for you ALWAYS give your ‘why’ and if someone is asking you to do something, ask them for their ‘why’ before they leave. So often you are asked to do something and told when you need to do it by but not told why its important.
Let’s face it, if you come and tell me to get out of the building immediately, I’m more likely to respond positively if you tell me there’s a fire!
Equally, if you want me to copy some documents before the end of the day it’s possible, I might think that first thing tomorrow will be OK. Unless of course you’ve told me that you need to pack the documents in with other collateral that evening for despatch at 8am. In the latter case I’ll understand the urgency and am more likely to prioritise my work so I can deliver the documents when required.
The lack of a ‘why’ creates unnecessary conflict.
Do you have tip for being more assertive or for removing conflict from your day? Do let me know.