Many people believe that aggressiveness is the key to success at the workplace. They think that they can get to the top by imposing their views on others and forcing them to do what they want. This belief has been reinforced by terms such as ‘aggressive market strategy’ and ‘aggressive game’. The truth is that this principle does not work in team environments where interpersonal relationships are very important for achieving goals. What one needs in such an atmosphere (which is when you are working for an organization) is assertiveness.
Aggression versus Assertiveness
An aggressive person often tramples upon other people’s rights, views and their self-esteem itself. Needless to say, this harms the person’s relationship with others in the long run. Then there are the passive types, people who never take initiative for anything and do only what they are asked to do. These are the losers. There is also a more complicated sort, the passive-aggressive. These are the manipulators and game-players. Once exposed, they are perhaps even more detested than the aggressive types.
All the behaviours we described earlier are clearly unhealthy. Now let us move on to define a set of healthy behaviours collectively described as ‘assertive behaviour’. To put it in a nutshell, assertive behaviour stems from respect for self and respect for others. High self-esteem and respect for other people’s views and rights form its foundation.
The Winner in You
It is again a misconception that self-esteem is a static entity- that people are either born with it or never have it. Both self-esteem and assertive behaviour can be developed with conscious effort. If you take a survey around you, you will see that all the people who have had long term success in any walk of life- be it work, family life, team sports or just about anything- are those who develop an assertive set of behaviour.
A lot of research has been gone into the psychology of assertive behaviour. There are entire books, courses and training programs devoted to cultivate assertive behaviour. Let us look at a few quick pointers.
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