As a small business owner, the way you communicate and handle other people is crucial to the success of your business. What’s the best way to ensure that you communicate effectively and display appropriate leadership qualities? The best leaders balance being firm with being open and respectful towards others. When you’re managing your team, choose behaviours that will pay off in the long run and motivate your employees to do their best.
Aggressive vs. Passive vs. Assertive Behaviour
Aggressive behaviour serves a number of purposes, including expressing anger, intimidation, and asserting dominance. Aggression is often a response to fear to fear or feeling threatened, but it’s not an effective way to encourage loyalty and good performance. Aggression in the office can take various forms such as berating people and commanding rather than asking. Aggressive managers want everything to go their way and make sure everyone knows they have the final say: “It’s my way or the highway.
A passive or passive-aggressive approach to communication is equally as harmful as an aggressive one. Passive individuals allow others to make decisions for them, and they fail to communicate their own feelings and thoughts, resulting in a buildup of negative and unresolved feelings toward others. Passive-aggressive behaviour occurs when they express this hostility indirectly. Instead of verbalizing the issues, they behave in ways that distress, frustrate, or discomfort other people. This might not be an outright verbal attack, yet it’s still quite upsetting for the recipient.
If you’re an assertive person, you are able to express your thoughts and beliefs without attacking others or passively accepting the unacceptable. Assertiveness leaves room for a win-win scenario where you express your desires appropriately without hurting other people’s feelings. Assertiveness involves being willing to listen to others and being open to solutions. As an assertive business owner or manager, you try assess the prevailing mood of your audience before speaking. You can control your behaviour and reactions, even you’re angry.
Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Behaviours in the Workplace
Imagine that one of your employees has begun performing dismally. Her deliverables are slipping and her co-workers are beginning to complain about picking up the slack. How do you react?
- Passive Approach: You stay up until the early morning, redoing another one of her terrible first drafts of a report. The next day, you angrily bash her when talking to other colleagues.
- Aggressive Approach: Caught in the grip of anger, you call her to your office, and then proceed to rant about why she is such a lousy employee and how you are doing her a favor by not firing her.
- Assertive Approach: Clearly communicating why her work isn’t acceptable, you point out her failure to achieve her goal while being careful not assault her personal qualities. Using empathy and emotional intelligence, you ask her to tell you if anything else is going on that’s affecting her job. Maybe she’s not clear on her role in the office, or has personal circumstances distracting her from work.
In the first two approaches, the results are the same: your relationship with your employee worsens and her work continues to suffer. But the third approach, using assertive behaviour, creates a non-threatening but clearly defined environment where both you and your employee can work together to resolve the problem. Employing assertive behaviour involves standing up for your own personal feelings, thoughts, and beliefs in an honest and appropriate manner. It’s preferable to aggressive or passive behaviour which can hurt other people’s feelings, because it makes employees appreciate your leadership. To avoid falling into the aggressive column, listen to others while employing a firm but diplomatic nudge to make your expectations clear.
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