Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Avoiding the passive-aggressive trap, part of Learning to Be Assertive.
- Now, there's one more combination I haven't mentioned yet, which is passive-aggressive. We've only been looking at passive or submissive, they mean the same thing. And aggressive, and then assertive as the right way. But what about if you didn't respect anybody's rights? Not yours or theirs. That would be passive-aggressive, and this is really the worst combination. It's not a halfway point, it's a lose-lose situation. I'm gonna give you a quick example of this, a story somebody told me on a training course, I'm sure it's true. She just bought this new car, it's quite a cheap make of car.
But it was new, it's the first ever new car she'd had, she was really proud of it. She drove to the super-market in it. And when she got there, she pulled up next to a Rolls-Royce, and there was a very posh lady who was driving the Rolls-Royce, and when the posh lady got out, she just slammed her door into the side of this new car, and it put a big dent in the side of the car. Those Rolls-Royce doors are really heavy. The Rolls-Royce lady didn't even notice, she just banged into the car, got out, and she just walked her way to the super-market.
Meanwhile, the lady who'd turned up in her pride and joy new car, went running around to the side, had a look and saw the dent. Now, what would you do if that happened to you? Really, you've got various options. You could be passive and just think, "Ugh, typical of my luck." You could be aggressive and go and shout at the woman, "You've ruined my car!" Of course, the best option is to be assertive and to go running after the lady and say, "Excuse me, you probably didn't notice, "you've just dented my car, "would you be able to pay for it?" She'd probably be fine about paying for it, so it'd probably be fine.
But the worst option, the fourth one, is to be passive-aggressive. And this is what the lady actually did. She got out her keys of her brand new car and she went up and down the side of the Rolls-Royce, great big scratch down the Rolls-Royce. If you think about it, that's just lose-lose, it doesn't help anybody. Because her new car still got a dent, now the Rolls-Royce is scratched as well. She's being aggressive, not against the woman, but against her car, and that doesn't solve anything. She's gonna come back to her car and think, "Ugh, look what someone's done." She's not even gonna know why.
Passive-aggressive is quite a tempting option, because the chemicals are in our blood, we feel aggressive, but we're not actually assertive enough to actually confront the person, so we take it out against the car. A common work example of passive-aggressive would be criticizing people behind their back. You're being aggressive about the person, but you're being passive in terms of, you're not actually confronting them. So, you might find it interesting just to think about, have you been passive-aggressive at all recently? Is it a tendency that you have? And what would the assertive option look like? What would it look and feel like to calmly confront the person and tell them about how you feel, and what you would like to happen.
- Identifying your current mindset
- Avoiding the passive-aggressive trap
- Reducing negative emotions
- Handling everyday putdowns
- Learning to disagree by questioning
- Knowing the most effective words to use