Assertiveness

by Andrew Lawless, John Quinn, Sue Wilcox

Dealing with difficult types of people

There are certain types of people whose standard behaviour can easily inspire an aggressive or passive response, but there are assertive ways of handling them.

The aggressive type

In other words, the person who is

  • Loud
  • Forceful
  • Threatening
  • Overbearing
  • Doesn’t listen.

When you come across people behaving this way, it might help if you

  • Give them time to cool down, choosing a more appropriate moment to talk to them
  • Think of the best way to gain their attention (how and when?)
  • Acknowledge their point of view, without agreeing with it
  • Hold your ground, because constantly backing down may reinforce their aggression.

The negative type

In other words, the person who is

  • Always criticising, moaning or groaning
  • Acts and talks as if life’s just too much
  • Never says a kind word
  • Believes there’s no light at the end of the tunnel
  • Assumes things can only get worse.

When you come across people behaving this way, it might help if you

  • Directly but calmly disagree with them (remaining silent or agreeing with them for the sake of keeping them quiet will only encourage more negativism)
  • Firmly state your positive opinion
  • Avoid arguments by repeating your positive opinions and giving examples that explain why you have this view
  • Overlook negative comments made by them (this lack of acknowledgement will discourage their negativism)
  • Continually ask for their ideas for practical solutions to the problems and issues.

The expert type

In other words, the person who likes talking and blocks you with

  • I know...
  • Been there, done that and that...
  • Yes, but we did it better
  • Ah! But...

When you come across people behaving this way, it might help if you

  • Acknowledge their expertise whenever it is appropriate (this will make them more prepared to listen to your views too)
  • Use logic to persuade them to accept your ideas
  • Ask them plenty of questions – not to prove them wrong, but to build on their ideas and introduce yours
  • Repeat yourself, re-phrasing your ideas and views whenever necessary.

The unresponsive type

In other words, the person who is

  • Apparently uninterested
  • Difficult to talk to
  • Not easy to get hold of
  • And who doesn’t know what their view is.

When you come across people behaving this way, it might help if you

  • Ask lots of questions, in particular, those requiring a response (in other words, beginning with how, what and why)
  • Train yourself to wait longer for a response; don’t be afraid of the silence
  • Follow up more often than normal; you may need to raise the same question two or three times over a period of time
  • Always involve them. Over a period of time this will demonstrate your genuine interest in their ideas/views.