Having assertiveness skills can only be a good thing. The challenge is how to recognise whether you are actually being assertive.
Well here is a really good tip to help you to understand when you are falling into the passive or aggressive trap and tread that difficult mid way course to being assertive.
So What Is Passive and Aggressive Behaviour
Have you ever been accused of being aggressive, because you have fought back when someone has criticised you? Or maybe you get irritated because you don’t like to confront situations, so you defer to being passive?
Aggressive behaviour can be intimating and seen as bullying while passive behaviour means you can be perceived to be a bit of a pushover, neither of which are good places to be.
Well none of us are perfect, we are human and we can only do our best.
However this little piece of advice came in very handy for me and it may just help you too. I have also handed it on to many of my clients who have responded with a light bulb moment when I shared this with them.
How To Know Whether You Are Being Aggressive, Passive or Assertive
Be hard on the issue and soft on the person.
I was given this piece of advice on a negotiations skills course when I was working as an account manager for an organisation some years ago. Yet this piece of advice has stood me in good stead in many tricky situations, both at work and with my personal and family relationships.
Being hard on the issue and being soft on the person is effectively being assertive.
Being assertive can be quite difficult to quantify, which is why I found this piece of advice so useful. It put what being assertive meant in a nutshell.
Just to explain in a little more detail, the alternatives to being hard on the issue and soft on the person are either:
Being hard on the issue and hard on the person – which is likely to be perceived as aggressive by the recipient. Being seen to be aggressive can lead to bad feeling and does not necessarily lead to the issue being addressed.
The opposite of this is to be soft on the person and soft on the issue. And this likely to be perceived as passive by the recipient. Being passive may mean you are not listened to or taken seriously.
The other problem we are likely to encounter when we are being passive or aggressive is that we jump from one extreme to the other. Either being passive to aggressive, because we get frustrated or from aggressive to passive because we feel guilty.
So the next time you are feeling challenged, need to make a stand, a complaint or dish out a little discipline. Remember.
Hard on the person and hard on the issue = aggressive
Soft on the person and soft on the issue = passive
Hard on the issue and soft on the person = assertive = just right – just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.