When you let people drive you to anger, they control you.

When you control your anger, you can drive people.

A common misconception about assertiveness is it is just something for a meek shy pushover to develop, when actually, people who are quick to anger should study assertiveness to help establish more appropriate methods to communicate and influence others.

A forward manner might seem like an effective way of getting your point across and in the short term, it may get results from people intimidated by fear of what will happen if they don’t achieve the outcome.

But just so you are aware, anyone who gets ordered around in this way will perform at the bare minimum, their drive to help you being a low priority.  The job may get done, but the outcome will lack the quality and passion of someone motivated by the requestor.

Not to mention using aggression isn’t a sustainable solution to building long term relationships, killing them dead as no one wants to work with you.

Aggressive demands don’t display control, showing a lack of tact and social intelligence – going against human nature, our ability to collaborate and work towards common goals.

Even if you are a sole trader running your own business, it is your duty to maintain positive connections with your suppliers and customers so they will want to keep working with you.

Pick your battles wisely

If there is a saying that applies to an overly aggressive person it’s:

‘Pick your battles wisely’

As their distinct personality isn’t to collaborate, build relationships and find a shared sense of purpose.

Instead their focus is to win, even if they gain very little or nothing from victory.

A skill an aggressive person needs to learn is to to pick their battles wisely – taking this approach will help them develop long term possibilities, at the expense of minor, petty, short term wins.

There is a difference between righteousness and being right.  The latter generally being the motivation of Mr Aggressive rather than genuinely sticking up for a just cause or value.

Essentially a question that should be asked is:

“What am I actually gaining  from this situation?”

If there is no benefit, then it’s a time to sit out or even submit to it if you are losing very little from it.  There is otherwise, the risk of losing much more.

I worked with someone like this at University during a group project.  I had been assigned as team leader for the group so was responsible for setting the wider direction of the group.

Every decision I made she criticised and undermined.  Essentially her whole manner was unprofessional as some of the attacks bordered on personal.

Whenever the group has to meetup, I wondered what she was going to say to the point of dreading attending.

And the teams progress was stagnating.  After informal words with fellow classmates we all agreed – she was the blocker.

And as I was in charge, I had the ultimate responsibility for saying we didn’t want her working with us anymore.

Any doubts about my own assertiveness was tested as I broke the bad news, explaining the reasons that had been mutually agreed by the group – her aggressive nature made her difficult to work with.

The response I got as you can imagine was aggression, in the form of an email questioning my own abilities.

I politely responded to the accusations and got another email with more blame.

Realising the whole conversation wasn’t healthy, productive for either of us or actually going anywhere I simply didn’t respond further and that was that.

In the end the group were able to function well together and we got a good grade.

She had problems finding a group that would take her after we were well into the University year.  I have no idea how well she did, but it probably wasn’t as well as the team did.

That’s because I picked my battles wisely, she didn’t.

Control your emotions

Assertiveness is much more than being able to express how you feel, it’s about being in control.

It’s just as much about how you speak, than speaking up.

People who use anger to get what they want are at risk of:

  • looking like an immature brat
  • damaging their reputation
  • not getting what they want as much as they would like.

Be aware of your approach, control your emotions, be cool and express yourself smartly rather than pushing for instant results.

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2 thoughts on “The art of assertiveness: anger and picking your battles wisely

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