What’s the Opposite of Passive Agressive Behavior

by James on April 21, 2011

Passive Aggresive BehaviorWe hear a lot about passive aggressive behavior. But what’s the opposite? If we don’t want to be passive aggressive, what behavior do we want to demonstrate?

We are coordinating a website build with, as often happens, multiple players. It’s a great team that is functioning quite smoothly except for a somewhat recalcitrant client. On a recent call a team member from the company that built the database provided some insight into managing this client. He told us that, in his experience, you need to help them along if you want things to get done and more importantly get done correctly. He whipped off an email that demonstrated what he meant. It was an excellent example of how to be an active aggressive project manager, the less discussed opposite of passive aggressive behavior.

There is a project manager on my team who appears to be quite aggressive, but it’s really passive aggressive behavior. He is aggressive about sending requests and delegating tasks but then leans back and waits for a response, “See, I asked and she didn’t deliver.” Another example is how he is dealing with a third party programmer on another job. He sends almost daily emails telling the programmer that he has not responded to his requests. I’m sure the programmer is busy and finds this annoying.

A better approach, the active aggressive approach, would be to be more helpful and demonstrate that he has done some work to investigate the issues. For example, the programmer provided links to their API documentation. If he were to put his request in the context of their documentation, showing that he is paying attention to what he is sending, and perhaps providing a suggested approach to the issue, like our colleague did in his email to the recalcitrant client, I think the programmer at the other company would see him as a partner rather than an annoyance.

A great project manager uses active aggression, they lean forward and help the process along. They’re not afraid to do some work, to provide the extra bit of info, to put themselves in the shoes of their team members to help them follow through.

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