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Are you Blunt or Bluff?


We’ve all met aggressive people. They’re the ones who cut to the chase, bluntly stating their agenda almost to the point of intimidation until their own personal goals are met. Too many people believe that forceful and aggressive behavior is a necessary ingredient for financial success. The most successful and effective leaders that I have met have all had a softer approach. While they were not pushovers, they had the confidence and self-esteem to be open and honest, yet assertive, in communicating their and their organization’s needs.

What happens when a business deal is conducted between two aggressive people? Surely an enormous waste of energy is expended as each promotes an agenda in a tense atmosphere. How about the passive type? They prefer not to express their opinions, ideas, and feelings because they fear it may rock the boat. Passive people usually avoid saying no in order to be nice. They think the only alternative to being nice is to be mean or selfish.

Aggressive people enjoy being around passive people, because passives allow them to do their own thing in their own time in their own way. Passive people take the path of least resistance. If someone takes advantage of them, they let it go. They have a hard time with confrontation because they hate how it makes them feel. They hate the physiological changes that come with a tense situation, such as second-guessing themselves or losing their cool.

Then there is a third type of person—the passive-aggressive person. Passive-aggressive people are actually pretty aggressive on the inside, but they’re very non-confrontational about it. They don’t directly express their feelings, but they show how they feel through what they do. And they’re no easier to deal with than people who are directly aggressive.

How does a person avoid extremes in behavior and learn to clearly state his objective in a healthy, honest, and focused way, without hurting another’s feelings or forcefully ruining a business deal?

The answer is assertiveness. “Mean what you say, say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” Clearly understand and believe in your own objectives so that you can be firm and outspoken in your ideas and positions. Assertiveness means being able to state your needs without feeling intimidated. It is the ability to stand up for yourself and to express how you feel when necessary.

Assertive people have some of the following characteristics:

  • They feel free to express feelings, thoughts, and desires without feeling self-conscious.

  • They are willing to compromise with others, rather than always wanting it their way.