Why do you always end up resenting making tantrums, sounding like a bitch, losing your patience or blowing your top? Is it because you really were having a bad day or the person you were dealing with was such a pain in the neck?
Whichever is the case, most of us do not like having to end up making such a scene. Remember those hurtful feelings, regrets, thinking whether you should have done that or not, or brooding over whether you were right in that behavior or not?
This happens many times when you end up with an aggressive behavior or response. Healthline.com describes this:
Aggressive behavior is behavior that causes physical or emotional harm to others, or threatens to. It can range from verbal abuse to the destruction of a victim’s personal property. People with aggressive behavior tend to be irritable, impulsive, and restless. Sometimes we think this was the only option to drive across our message.
But there is an option though.
You can drop that animal route without having to lose yourself into silence. You can change the authoritarian style of managing to something else and keep your firm leadership. You don’t have to be a strict and heartless disciplinarian parent and can opt to raise disciplined and confident kids.
In the second half of the 20th century, assertiveness became increasingly popular as a behavioral skill. And it is often linked to self-esteem. Wikipedia defines it as the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive.
It is a way of standing for one’s right without stepping on others’ rights and giving due respect to individuals and parties involved.
Here are 4 options to day-to-day activities that challenge our patience. We can choose the alternative path – to deal with them appropriately by standing up for what is right or rightfully yours and at the same time keeping a humane and respectful demeanor:
1. Instead of fighting your way on an annoying incident, establish whether it is important or not and decide if you need to pay attention to it.
Every day we face different situations. We encounter colleagues, family, friends and even strangers who challenge our patience and bring us to fuming madness. Do we put so much effort reacting over the careless stranger who stepped on our toes accidentally? Do you simply brush away a colleague who does not copy you on an email that has something of your responsibility? Do you gush out frustration with a simple sigh when you see the toilet seat up or would you rather shout at your partner for this inconsideration?
Ask yourself what is at stake when dealing with situations. What impact does it give you in the long-term or short-term? Is it going to impact the way people see you (at least the ones you deal with regularly)? Is it leading you to some danger or risk? What happens after this event?
A small accident on the train will stop there and everyone else will continue with their lives. Tolerating a misbehavior by a team mate can result in repetitive acts of abuse. Ignoring carelessness of others can end up with a burst of emotions from you or worse behaviors from others. The twist of story may be different for you and so you need to see if it matters to you, your friends, colleagues or your family.
2. Instead of making hurtful messages on text, email or phone, cool up and use sober face-to-face discussion on crucial matters and complicated issues to avoid further misunderstanding.
The advent of mobile phones and other gadgets have left us inutile on face-to-face situations and have relied heavily on technology. Yet many messages left to the gadgets can lead to misunderstandings or miscommunication.
Do you use these gadgets to talk to people miles away from you? Or do you actually even talk to people 2 feet away from you using your gadgets? There is nothing wrong with that. But some concerns ought to go in a personal way.
Telling a subordinate you do not like the way he handles a particular task is of sensitive nature and can be taken badly if done in an impersonal way such as writing a message. Answering an email or a text message that you find strong or offensive can end you up with an even more aggressive tone. In such situations, choosing to meet up in person clarifies issues and avoids further ‘damage’.
3. Instead of making sarcastic remarks to attack people or communicate your dislike for a behavior, make a direct statement to the person by clarifying, asking or re-iterating your expectations.
Two people can have the same pet-peeve but do not necessarily end up being bitchy. If you tend to be formal and hate people who make noise, you may complain about it by raising your voice in a mad tone. But the other option is to raise your voice and politely ask “Excuse me, can you lower down your voice as I am talking on the phone?”
A landlord can bluntly say in front of a tenant, “Someone is throwing left-overs on the sink instead of dumping them on the waste can” because he is the suspect. But the assertive way to do this is directly ask the tenant, “Did you throw the left-overs on the sink?”
If you do it the aggressive way, you will sound bad. And if there was a mistake about who did it, you will not just sound bad but stupid. It will also strain your relationship with that other person.
What if you follow the alternative path and he denies it? He could be lying and therefore guilty. What if he admits it and explains it was an accident and apologizes? Whichever is the case, you have driven your point and pass off the ‘bad guy’ part of the story.
That frees you from heartaches.
It is fine to show anger or disappointment. But you do not have to resort to a fuming mad confrontation or merciless disappointment. Try cooling off to get back to your senses before confronting the issue head on. Surely this will work better for both parties.
4. Instead of ending up violating someone else’s person, privacy or freedom, be consistent with your own behavior and use reminders on certain expectations.
The best example is dealing with kids. Parents love their kids but end up having to discipline them – in the way they feel is most effective. Nobody can judge that.
And neither anyone can argue about the parents’ love for their children.
However, there is an obvious divide to a heavily abusive punishment vs a stern discipline (at the least). It has to teach the kid a particular lesson of what is right and wrong and assert authority of the parent.
Rather than using aggression (shouting, hurting or use of abusive words) to instill fear, show authority by explaining the whys and corresponding appropriate or moderate emotion or expression.
Likewise, making our position in a team or family clear, we implement a fair way to teach someone a lesson within the bounds of human values and laws. It is always about being clear with expectations, providing a balanced set of expressions and dealing with issues in the most professional or appropriate manner.
The Alternative: Guilt-free, Happy Assertiveness
What comes from choosing the alternative path to assertive behaviors? It leaves you without guilt or resentment, gives you a feeling of freedom and contentment.
Whether you build a winning team or a happy family, assertiveness is the middle ground in face of conflict or challenges. You can be bold and assertive without hurting feelings or starting a fight unnecessarily. Try it!
Do you manage with assertive or aggressive behavior? How did you feel in comparison with the other? Do you think you can take the assertive alternative more often?
If you are not sure of your answer, do not have the confidence to do so or are intrigued how you can do better, I challenge you to reach out to my FREE email series program, The Manifesto of Confident People for those who would like to gain more confidence, achieve their personal goals and improve personal relationships.
About the Author:
Rob Leonardo is the creator of ConfidenceCues, a blog dedicated to building self-confidence following an alternative mantra “be bold, assertive and happy”. In December 2013, he successfully re-opened doors to his FREE 7-week email series program called Manifesto of Confident People. The program continues but is limited to the first 100 subscribers for each month. Click HERE to grab a free slot.
photo credits: KTConklin