Learn to be assertive, not aggressive
Published: May 31, 2013
Everyone wants what they want, that’s human nature.
However, the way we go about to getting what we want makes a world of difference. The difference is in the energy that we use to propel us to our destination. Aggressiveness is self-centered. It focuses on getting what we want by any means necessary. If it requires, hurting or stepping on others, so be it. Aggressiveness comes from a mindset of scarcity, in order for me to win, you have to lose.
An aggressive person can be harsh and treat others with disregard because they are driven by personal success even if it is at the expense of others. Aggression is fueled by insecurity, not confidence, because an aggressive person thinks they can only get what they want by force. Aggressiveness comes from a win-lose mindset of scarcity.
Between aggressiveness and assertiveness lies passiveness and passive-aggressiveness. Passive people allow themselves to be doormats; they are afraid to stand up for themselves because they want to be liked. They avoid conflict at all cost, even to the detriment of their own self respect. This is extremely unhealthy and indicates a lack of confidence.
The passive-aggressive person will resentfully comply, but find ways to quietly undermine or sabotage their aggressor. An example in the workplace would be an employee who produces just enough to not get fired under an aggressive manager. Passive-aggressive people may become curt, but will never confront their aggressor.
Assertive behavior is the ideal that brings balance. An assertive person can be very open and frank, however, the difference is they also hold other people’s opinions and feelings in high regard. An assertive person wants what they want just as much as the aggressive person, but they pay attention to the needs and feelings of others. An assertive person has to have a certain amount of self assuredness because they understand that agreeing to compromise is not a sign of weakness. Aggressiveness puts people on the defense, but an assertive person creates an environment where people become more creative in the way they approach problem solving.
Assertiveness requires a certain amount of confidence. One has to be secure in oneself to value the input of others and not feel diminished by someone else’s value. Assertive people think in terms of win-win. They subscribe to the school of thought that says there is enough for everybody. When we think this way, it changes the way we communicate. We no longer have to pretend to be “nice”, a win-win mindset will shape our approach. If our approach eliminates defensiveness, the environment becomes conducive to creativity that allows not only you, but everyone else to win.
• Kim Welcome is CEO of Influential Voice, a communication trainer and coach; she assists businesses and professionals to achieve their goals by helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills. She invites your questions and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, visit www.influentialvoice.com.