Speaker: Three of these styles do not work when communicating with people, especially with difficult people. So I want to first start off with the three styles that don’t work, and then conclude with the one style that works almost all the time, especially with difficult people.
So let’s start with the easiest communication style to talk about, and that is aggressive. So think of the most aggressive person you’ve ever met, the person that just goes off the charts in aggressive behavior, the person that if you ever looked up the word aggressive in the dictionary, there would be their mug shot. Do you have somebody in mind? Okay, without mentioning their name, what are they like?
Audience: Loud, obnoxious.
Speaker: Loud, obnoxious.
Audience: Annoying, opinionated.
Speaker: Annoying, opinionated.
Speaker: Bullies. Look at that, in stereo, bullies! Very good.
Audience: Irritating, arrogant, abrasive.
Speaker: Irritating, arrogant, abrasive, absolutely. There are some D words that I want you to write down as well. They are demanding and sometimes demeaning. If you take it to an extreme, these people actually with their language, their tone of voice, their body language, what they do is they put other people down to elevate themselves. So aggressive, to me, they come from a place…
So how do you do it? How do you become more assertive? It’s a learned skill. You can learn these skills like I learned these skills. They are steps that you can take, and the first one is to breathe. I want to emphasize breathing because sometimes when we get confronted or sometimes when we have to confront, it’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. We don’t like conflict, and we don’t like confrontation; so sometimes we get stressed, and physically we have that fight or flight syndrome going on. We sometimes like [inhales sharply]; we tense up.
Have you ever been so stressed that you’ve even said, “I’m so stressed I can’t even think straight”? Well, that’s your body telling you breathe. Have you ever had your best friend look at you and say, “Breathe, breathe, breathe, calm down, breathe”? Well, that’s just a reminder to breathe.
So for one you need more oxygen going to the brain so you can have more clarity to carry on the conversation, but the second thing it will help you do is to buy you some time. I think so often we get so stressed in an uncomfortable situation and then you attach emotion to it, like anger, past experience, resentment, jealousy, all these negative emotions.
We attach that to the conversation, and guess what we end up doing? Saying something totally inappropriate that we live to regret, and once you’ve blown your credibility, you can’t get it back. You can’t get it back. So if you breathe, use that time to think about what you’re going to say before you say it.
Number two, use what I call I-statements…
A woman has a really, really, really bad day at work. Her anger sack is so full. Her knight in shining armor comes home and says, “Hey honey, how was your day?” “Oh my gosh. It was such a horrible day. I had this incident. It was absolutely awful.” The knight in shining armor says, “Honey, you didn’t need to get upset about that. All you had to do was say this and this, game over.” Thank you for invalidating my feelings. Then he says, “Do you want some more advice?” No.
So here’s what you do. Imagine you’re a glass of water, and your anger sack is like this glass of water that’s absolutely full. If you vent to someone and they don’t listen to you and they give you advice, as in more water, pouring water into a full glass of water, where is that advice going? It’s going all over the place. It’s making a mess. You are not in a position to receive. You are only in a position to receive good ideas and input and feedback if you’ve released all that anger and frustration.