Your best style: Not passive, not aggressive – but assertive

by on July 2, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

What do you do about employees you just can’t approach about behavior or performance problems?

You know the types: people who either erupt into an argument or say, “Yeah, whatever” if you try to engage them. When that happens, you need to stick up for yourself -– without going nuclear.

The bad actor
Here’s an example: An employee is unhelpful at a meeting, making snide remarks, looking impatiently like she wants to leave and refusing to participate productively.

Afterward, when the manager asks what’s going on, she says, “I hate these stupid meetings. We all just sit around and nothing ever gets solved.”

Sometimes a manager’s “fight or flight” instinct will kick in at this point, making you act either too passively or too aggressively. Result: The worker doesn’t take you seriously, or an argument erupts.

Getting it just right
Here’s how three responses – two off-target, one just right – might sound:

  • Passive: “Well, maybe we can just send you the meeting minutes.”
  • Aggressive: “If you participated more, you’d get more out of them.”
  • Assertive: “You seem pretty fed up, but I need your input at the meetings. What would you do to make the meetings more effective?”

Source: Amy Henderson,

Click to View Comments

No Comment on This Post

  1. Michael Brisciana
    July 24, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    Nicely put, Dave.  Perhaps one other “assertive” approach to offer . . . 

    “I appreciate your candor.  I want meetings to be productive, too.  Help me understand what came up in the meeting that wasn’t solved.  Maybe we can work together to resolve that.”

    It acknowledges the problem/issue the employee has raised, and engages them in solving it.  As they say, “Speak (and act) now … or forever hold your peace.”

    Thanks so much,


Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.