It is important to regularly assess your business relationships. Have you got the balance right? There is a big difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness and your style of communication may need to be adapted slightly. Assertive communication is the clear, direct confident communication style that works in business.
Good communication is crucial to achieving effective working relationships. How you choose to communicate with your colleagues can seriously affect your job and ultimately your career progression. When your communication is in top form your relationships will feel relaxed, open and honest but when your communication is poor the relationships can feel cold, strained, tense and as if one person is withholding from another in some way. Do you need to modify things slightly? Check out the different styles below.
Let’s look at the difference between aggressive and assertive communication. They are both forceful forms of communication but assertive behaviour has a more positive impact on other people than aggressive behaviour.
What is aggressive behaviour? It is standing up for yourself in such a way that disregards the other person’s feelings, position, or interests. Aggressive behaviour therefore comes across as an attempt to humiliate, control, hurt, belittle or disregard the other person. Whether the aggressive behaviour is conscious or unconscious it will encourage the recipient to be more aggressive in his/her response.
What do aggressive people say?
‘I am tired of being the only person in this organisation who can keep on top of things.’
‘It surprised me that you did not discuss this matter with me. You insulted my professional experience by taking action without consulting me.’
‘Why haven’t I heard from you by now? You are not giving me the service or response I expect. It is obvious that you just don’t know what you are doing.’
‘Let me know why this is happening or sort this problem out. If you cannot do this then refund the money you have already taken by credit card.’
‘I am sick and tired of the management of this company. It is obvious that you don’t care about other people.’
Being honest with yourself means that you can be more relaxed about adapting your communication style for your own and other people’s benefit.
- I was too hard when dealing with ‘name the person’Next time I will …..
- I took ‘name the incident’ too seriouslyNext time I will …..
- I reacted too personally when…Next time I will …..
What is passive aggressive behaviour? Passive aggressive behaviour is the indirect expression of anger or frustration. On the surface the person looks passive and content as there is no visible sign of aggression but in reality the person is quietly boiling below the surface.
Examples of passive aggressive behaviour include:
- Giving someone a wide berth or ignoring the person.
- Slamming doors or drawers hoping that someone will notice. When asked ‘what is wrong?’ just snapping ‘nothing’ in reply.
- Making hurtful sarcastic comments about someone.
What is assertive behaviour? Assertive behaviour is standing up for yourself in such a way that is does not violate the rights of the other person. It is means that you can be direct and honest when expressing your feelings and opinions.
By adopting an assertive approach you will encourage others around you to be more assertive too. The simple rule for effective communication is the KISS rule. Keep it short and simple.
What do assertive people say?
‘I like our business relationship the way it is. I would like to present some ideas to you about how it could be enhanced further. When would be a good time to do this?’
‘Excuse me, Bob. I would like to finish off what I was saying.’
‘I think some of the points you raised are true. I hadn’t quite seen it that way before. I would like to prevent this happening again and would therefore like you to be less personal about my shortcomings in future.’
Being positively assertive all the time can be tricky – we can all slip on occasions. However, on the whole it is worth remembering the following points:
Talk from I. It is always best to talk from ‘I’. ‘I see it differently’ or ‘I remember it differently’.
Be for something, not against. When expressing a different opinion give positive reasons for your view rather than arguments against the other person’s views.
‘I believe we can produce results more quickly if we make this a team project.’ Rather than, ‘Your idea of giving one person responsibility for the project won’t work.’
Look for areas of agreement. You can make others more receptive to your ideas if you recognise their ideas as well.
‘I want to incorporate as many of your ideas on people and resources. I would like to discuss further these specific areas so that we can move towards agreement’.
Express yourself. State your reaction to the other person’s behaviour directly and clearly without becoming negative. ‘I find it frustrating’. ‘I think that it is unfair.’
Specify your wishes. Get your point over calmly. ”I would prefer that you …’
If you would like to improve the way you present your ideas at work, Sarah Berry’s latest book, ‘How to love the job you do‘ will help you stay assertive in the workplace.