This article is a continuation from “Improve Decision Making by Using the Right Communication Style” where I identified that there are 4 ways to communicate when the conversations get difficult or uncomfortable. This article will help you identify whether or not you are an aggressive communicator, help you understand why that matters, and how aggressive communication can affect the workplace.
If you see that your meetings are ineffective, few decisions are being made, there is no follow-through on decisions that are made, there are problems holding people accountable, and employees are kept on your team long after it has been determined they should be let go, you have issues that require a change in communication style!
Aggressive communication is a communication style of stating ideas and opinions in a manner with no respect and complete disregard to others. An aggressive communicator is perceived as someone that is more concerned about self than about others. The aggressive communicator has an agenda, and will make that agenda happen regardless of the ideas, opinions, or feelings of others. Such leaders may realize afterwards that they were too aggressive with their communication, but the damage has already been done.
When you communicate aggressively toward a colleague, their reaction (and the reaction of others who witness the exchange) is usually negative (resentful, angry, hurt, etc.). You may even go back to them and ask if they were okay with your aggressive communication style, but do not expect an honest response. If the person did not address you at the time, they are either passive-aggressive or passive communicators and just want to avoid a confrontation with you, particularly if your position of power is superior to theirs!
The aggressive-style leader in the workplace will almost always get compliance from subordinates. This is often at the expense of long-term loyalty, enthusiasm, and motivation to work harder. In extreme situations, a highly-aggressive leadership style can result in other negative outcomes, such as passive-aggressive behaviors, resentment, alienation, dissatisfaction, high turnover rates, sabotage, and in some cases litigation (e.g. hostile work environment).
When you have a direct report that is not performing, the initial response is to be sarcastic, hurtful and use threatening comments. You believe to motivate people you have to show them you are better than them, others were much better than them, that the work that they did was inferior, give them crazy goals that no one can accomplish, and tell them they will not make it at the rate their going. Nothing you tell them is helping them understand how to perform or indicating you want them to succeed. In fact, they most likely you are going to hurt their career if they stay on your team and they cannot possibly succeed on your team.
Why would we accept an aggressive communicator? First and foremost, they may leave a lot of dead bodies behind them, but they get things done. They are known for being task-motivated, hard chargers, goal-oriented, and there is no doubt what to expect from them. Many times aggressive is a tone set from the top and the leader may like and encourage others to be just like them. In their mind, they see the aggressive communication style as the only way things get done in the workplace.
If you’re struggling with your communication style as a workplace leader, call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at [phone link=”true”] or simply fill out the contact form to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business and become a more effective leader.