Sometimes when we are having a difficult conversation we revert to a style or persona that we often use in “fight,flight or freeze” mode. It's common knowledge that fight/flight/freeze is a response to a perceived or real threat. So when you feel that urge to go into fight/flight/freeze be aware of which persona you tend to go into. This persona is NOT the real you. It is merely the conflect style you believe will keep you the most emotionally safe in that moment. Below is the 3 different persona that we can choose. Notice which one best reflects your response in difficult conversations.
The Passive Persona
Passive behaviour involves backing down, feeling unworthy, letting people walk all over you.
It looks like your being agreeable but your not really inviting the respect of others when you're known for just giving in all the time.
You may be passive because your fear you won’t be liked if your seen as disagreeable.
You are rarely firm about your own needs nor speak about your feelings if it means it might upset another person.
You hate confrontation. So you may think, 'why would I bring that upon myself? I’d rather be a “peacemaker” than a “troublemaker”.'
You may believe it's aggressive or impolite to say what you like or desire, if you think it might be different to someone else.
You tend to take the lesser part of the relationship and often find yourself in unequal relationships.
You'd rather just stay quiet and take what’s handed out to you. That will do, rather than the risk of any slight confrontation.
The Aggressive Persona
Aggressive relating involves saying what you want in a threatening manner.
You usually feel out of control so you want to make sure people are going to listen to what you need.
However, you rarely share my feelings in an emotionally safe way.
You are defensive and never modify your ideas or position because you know your right.
Even if it may help the relationship, too bad!
You are persistent, because you value the issue at hand more than the relationship.
You never speak about feelings, you only react out of your feelings.
Besides, you may think, 'the relationship has nothing to do with the issue at hand'.
You may think win/loose rather than win/win. You find yourself constantly protecting something you might loose. (eg. respect or personal gain of some kind).
Compromises are ok if they suit you and your ideas.
However, they will listen, but only once the other person agrees with them.
Your aggressive body language is closed and stiff. You may look hard, scary or threatening.
Aggressive persona will make direct eye contact to make sure that their hearer is intimidated.
The goal of aggressiveness is to compete and win, but I don’t really care about the way I express myself of the impact on my relationship with the other person.
Other people’s opinions are irrelevant to the issue at hand.
Aggressiveness seeks power over and is not concerned with equal relationships.
The Assertive Persona
Assertiveness involves saying what I want and how I feel in a calm, clear, honest way.
It means staying in control of myself, keeping focused and knowing what it is I want and need to express.
It means being firm but also flexible in choosing to modify my ideas or position if that helps the relationship.
It means speaking about my feelings and not just reacting from my feelings.
It often involves persistence and consistency in my approach to others, being honest and valuing the relationship more than the issue at hand.
Seeing both sides of a situation is involved in order to be respectful and searching for a compromise where its appropriate.
My assertive body language is open and relaxed with intentional eye contact that is neither threatening nor intimidating.
I realise listening is vital to enable the other to feel comfortable saying what they need to say.
The goal of assertiveness is not to win or compete, but to express myself honestly, clearly, without aggression or passivity and with an openness to the other’s opinions.
Assertiveness seeks equal relationships with others. Affirming others and apologising when wrong.
You will notice that the assertive persona will probably get you the best results. If you saw yourself in one of the other styles, remember awareness is the beginning of change. Now all you have to do is practice the 3 Steps to Assertiveness and notice the change begin to take place in your life.
3 Steps To Assertiveness:
#1 Say how you feel. I feel _____________
#2 About what the other person says/does When you _________
#3 Request change I’d prefer _________