Passive, Assertive or Aggressive?
By Ann Meacham
Think about how you would handle a situation like this and select the assertive answer. Joanna is a director who oversees several project managers. One of her managers is habitually late in turning in vital time-sensitive reports. Not only are the reports late, but they are incomplete or inaccurate. Joanna’s normal response is to give a heavy sigh and scold the project manager for being late. The report is due the tomorrow.
If you were Joanna, what would you do?
a. Find a way to push back the deadline to give her more time.
b. Tell her that she’s doing a terrible job and this can’t go on and “write her up”
c. Show her what corrections need to be made and have her stay until the report is finished.
d. After scolding her take over and finish the report yourself so it will be turned in on time.
‘c’ is the assertive answer. In the past Joanna had consistently stayed late to fix the report so it would be on time and her department would look good. Her project manager was accustomed to this and had become lazy because she knew Joanna would make everything right. She learned how to hold her manager accountable for her actions. Her manager changed her attitude toward the monthly activity, learned how to effectively complete it, and showed more respect for Joanna in other situations as well.
The other choices:
‘a’ is passive, reinforces the manager’s lack of responsibility and solves nothing in the long term.
‘b’ is aggressive and both deflating for the manager and a demonstration of Joanna’s disappointment in herself for not ensuring that the report be completed on time.
‘d’ is passive, allowing upward delegation and leaving the manager feeling unsatisfied with her job as well.
The key to a positive outcome in situations like this is to set clear standards and expectations at the beginning – then make sure the person does what is expected of him/her (accountability).
Expect respect and accept only that!
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