Guest Author - Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, EdD
If you're trying to be assertive, it's helpful to find out how you may be sabotaging yourself by being aggressive.
If you have low self-esteem, high stress, and few assertive skills, you may find yourself taking your feelings out on others by being aggressive.
Aggressive message usually contain the word "you," as in, "You don't know what you're talking about." Aggressiveness can be implied in "Don't shout at me!"
Aggressiveness and avoidance are related in the sense that both are the opposite of assertive behavior. If you tend to avoid situations, eventually you will have your fill and probably blow up and get angry. You may experience a buildup of angry and resentful feelings that may then erupt in emotional upset or outbursts.
If you're passive-aggressive, you may...
*use subtle put-downs
*be chronically forgetful
*call in sick (when you're not)
*fantasize and daydream instead of paying attention
*try to make other people feel guilty
*say yes and then not act on it
*pretend to be fragile so you intimidate others
*agree to anything so you don't rock the boat
*change the subject when a confrontation is about to occur
To identify your aggressive behavior, write a paragraph about the following situations. Identify how you acted aggressively either directly or indirectly, who was involved, what you and the other person(s) said and did, and how you felt about the outcome.
1. A time you lost your temper and blew up
2. A time you conveniently "forgot" to do something you have promised to do
3. A time you broke confidentiality by sharing something without checking first to make sure it was okay to share the information
4. A time you procrastinated and prevented others from completing their goals
5. A time you nagged someone
6. A time you called in sick before a tense meeting or confrontation
7. A time you either fantasized, daydreamed, or changed the subject when a confrontation was about to occur
8. A time when you tried to make someone else feel guilty
9. A time you criticized someone unfairly
10. A time you teased someone
Abstracted from Holistic Assertiveness Skills for Nurses---Empower Yourself (and Others!) By Carolyn Chambers Clark, published by Springer Publishing Company, NY, 2003.