Assertive not Aggressive


Trying to get badly needed services from the Government can be frustrating. Often you have to jump through hoops or deal with difficult people across the counter. It is understandable that someone might lose their cool and show aggressive behavior that manifests in personal attacks, a raised voice, threats, giving ultimatums, and aggressive body language. When this happens the people you are dealing with can get defensive and may get aggressive in return. The conflict may escalate and you may not get what you want. Or you may get labeled as a troublemaker and they may not want to deal with you anymore in the future.

It is better to be assertive when dealing with people. That does not mean that you have to take your eye off the prize. Think about what is important, prioritize the items, and be firm about communicating your needs. At the same time, a collaborative and positive tone helps to set the stage for the discussion. Use “I” statements where you can and be clear about what you need. Be respectful and firm. Display open body language: good eye contact, relaxed posture, and be aware of personal space. Ask them for their advice about what they would do if they were you or who you should talk to up the ladder. Even if they cannot help, people are more likely to respond if they are treated with respect.

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