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Aggressive or Assertive… That is the Question.

As a business owner, you sometimes have to be the heavy. It’s not always easy, but is necessary. There is, however, a delicate balance to strike between assertive and aggressive. Some people don’t know the difference ending in non-productive results. Both approaches demand reaction. One is more favorable though.

Let’s use the example of one of your employees not completing a task the way you wanted it done. Out of frustration, your knee-jerk reaction might be to scold or take the responsibility away from said employee. you may want to remind them who the boss is and that what you say goes. While this may be true, this would be aggressive behavior. Likely, he/she goes right into defensive mode. Anything you say is going to be tuned out and they feel inferior.

Using that same situation, but being assertive, you would speak to him/her about the “botched” task. Ask questions about why they chose to do it a different way than the way you asked. And if it’s still unacceptable, explain to them why it is important to you that they handle this the way you instructed. Use the “sandwich method” discussed in Keeping Your Staff Motivated.  How that may play out would be the following: “I appreciate what a free thinker and doer that you are. However, I asked it be done this way because it’s proven to work. Next time, please follow my instructions. I know you’ll do a great job!”

There are people reading this that may think they shouldn’t have to explain why they want things done a specific way. I get it. This is YOUR company and there’s a reason for what you ask of your people. But, if you have a good staff member, why sacrifice that for feeling the need to remind them who’s boss? Of course, if you have someone that continually goes against your direction, that’s a different story. You may be in the market for a new employee.

The aggressive vs. assertive approach also goes for dealing with partners or clients. While you’re at it, keep this in mind in your personal life too. This is, after all, a life skill. In my eyes, positive results always outweigh ego.

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