Passive vs. Pushy

Different Communication Styles That Work Together

Today, I met with one of the team members I mentor.

We were discussing the work quality of another team member. We agreed it could be improved.

I encouraged them to speak to the other teammate directly and layout what’s missing, what they need and when they need it by.

“Don’t mince your words” I said. “And use language with crystal clear clarity. Make sure they fully understand your expectations.”

His response was “well… ya know… um… you have your way of doing things and I have mine. And my way is… well… I don’t want to be pushy.”

I do agree with him that my style is aggressive and pushy. I am unapologetic about that reality. It’s a strength and I have the results to prove it.

I push my teams because I want to create a sense of pressure. Because pressure makes people uncomfortable… and discomfort is what causes change.

I can do passive too, but I deploy it sparingly. In fact, while they may seem like opposites, they actually work together.

“pressure makes people uncomfortable… and discomfort is what causes change.”

In the beginning of a relationship I encourage you to be somewhat passive until you establish rapport.

Once you’ve developed trust and rapport, you can transition to pushy and start being more demanding to make things happen.

If you’ve invested the time into building trust with someone, being more serious with them should be a non-issue.

If it is, it’s on them… not you. If you can’t take criticism, then you can’t be a good teammate. Period.

One technique I use to coach up my teams that combines passive and pushy is called “bookending”. It goes like this:

— Start by saying something positive. Give them some positive reinforcement. “Ya know Jack.. your pitch yesterday was solid. Nice work.”

— Follow it up with what you really want to say. Deliver the criticism. Don’t mince words. Be a straight shooter. “But I think it can be better. I know it can be better, and here’s how.”

— Finally, give ’em an atta-boy. Let them know all is good. “Hey… pitching to our big customers can be nerve racking, but all things said you did a good job. Make these tweaks I’m suggesting, and your next one with be a home run.”

That’s bookending. Try it. It works.

Keep building!

Related Resources:

Podcast: Passive vs. Pushy: Different Communication Styles That Can Work Together