Assertive or aggressive?

  1. I had a dispute with a coworker and could not settle it so I utilized the chain of command and talked to my supervisor about it. When I went back to talk to the coworker, looking for resolve, she told me that my actions were aggressive toward her and she was angry.
    Is this seen as aggression? I have never done it before, but I really felt that I was more assertive, than aggressive.
    Is their some "rule" about this type of thing that I am not aware of?
    Anyone have experience with this? Help!
  2. Visit Gator,SN profile page

    About Gator,SN

    Joined: Jul '02; Posts: 999; Likes: 13
    critical care nurse


  3. by   Rapheal

    I think I need more info to form an opinion on this. What type of dispute? Did it need to be resolved or could it have been just a difference of opinion without the need for resolution? Let us know so that we can be more helpful in answering your question.
  4. by   gwenith
    The words "Aggressve" and "assertive" became buzz words in management a couple of years ago whne a theory of personal interactions was formulated (sorry remember the content can't remember the theory) Interactions were described as either "passive", "aggressive" or "Assertive" or a comibnation of the three so that if you were the sort of person who put up with crud for a long time before telling somene to stick it, you were "passive aggressive". If you told them up front to stick it you were aggressive. The correct response according to these theorists was to quietly tell the person why you were in disaggreeance with them - this was "assertive" .

    Like many of these theories it was way too simple to be truly practical in real life. Worse it has become a tool of bullies. Like you, I have had a bully using the term to turn my attempt to resolve a situation in a calm and reasonable manner into a "your fault" situation. It was not until I realised that no matter what I did or how I did it I would have one of these labels of "inappropraite response" stuck on me. It becomes a convenient way to enforce a "no win" situation.

    Go back to your colleague and ask how SHE thought you should have handled it. Keep in mind bullies ( and I am not accusing her of being one) HATE having thier behaviours reported to managment.
    Last edit by gwenith on Apr 26, '03
  5. by   sjoe
    "It was not until I realised that no matter what I did or how I did it I would have one of these labels of "inappropraite response" stuck on me. It becomes a convenient way to enforce a "no win" situation. "

    And I would say the same thing about MOST of the PC phrases bandied about these days.
  6. by   Gator,SN
    I think I need more info to form an opinion on this. What type of dispute? Did it need to be resolved or could it have been just a difference of opinion without the need for resolution? Let us know so that we can be more helpful in answering your question
    I work at a hospital and I also had 4 weeks of clinical there, on the same floor that I work on as a nursing assistant. I arrived at clinical and was waiting for report to start when my co-worker informed that my patient (assigned to her) was to be in endo by 0715 and that I needed to get her ready to go. I told her that I couldn't do it at that time because I had not received report yet and I didn't feel comfortable. I knew nothing about the patient except sex and age. My instructor had not arrived yet.
    She blasted me infront of my classmates and other staff- "you want to be a nurse, well this is how the real world is, you don't get to do everything your way and whenever you want to!"
    I told her that it was only because my instructors had informed me that taking report was "legally taking responsibility for the patient" and I had not done so, but she was too angry to listen. I did check the consent forms, hang the secondary line and transfer the patient and take her to the holding room, just so she would stop talking about me to everyone who would listen and missed report anyway. Next I went to her and I asked to speak to her in private and she refused, so I went to my supervisor (hers too) and I told her that while I am a student I want to be treated like one and she should not take the liberty to treat me that way because I work their as an NA and we are familiar with each other.
    I waited a few days, until we were working together again and I asked a second time to talk to her about what had happened and she told me that I'm aggressive and she is angry about it and will not speak to me unless it is work related.

  7. by   Rapheal

    chuckles..... I too have noticed that the term "inappropriate" can be used to say " I don't like what you said".
  8. by   Agnus
    The difference between agressive, passivity, and assertion is that in being assertive you are showing absolute respect for both the other person and your self.
    People are agressive when they are angry. Anger stems from fear, and or hurt. Both passive and agressive people feel a sense of powerlesness.
    There have been times when I thought that I was assertive but when examining the situation in retrospect, I was agressive.

    It takes practice. LOTS of it. Examine your motives and feelings at the time. You may have been behaving agressively. Sometimes our words alone are assertive but our tone, and body language is agressive. Attitude is everything.

    Some questions to ask your self. (Not to be answered here)
    Was there something about the situation that made you feel insecure? When you approached the supervisor were you acusatory?

    By the same token you do not have to be assertive in all situations. It is even inappropriate in some situations.

    Ok so don't talk to her unless it is work related. That sounds like a pretty simple request.
    Last edit by Agnus on Apr 25, '03
  9. by   LaVorneRN
    You did better than me. I think you handled it just fine and if she wants to work as professionals only then she should behave accordingly. If she doesn't want to talk to you fine. As long as you can work together. That should be enough for you. You are not there to make friends anyway and this doesn't sound like someone I'd want to be friends with. This is another situation with someone who is has no respect for you but expects you to cower to HER aggressive behavior. She expected you to do nothing about it after you tried to resolve it with her. She's just mad because she didn't expect you to do anything. She has no repect for you. Ya gives none ya gets none. with her professionally and go about your business with a smile and good conscience. As far as school, the road you're on seems like yesterday for me. Your plate is full all the time and you don't need this mess. Stay focused and do your best. I wish you well and keep your head up. Peace and blessings!
  10. by   canoehead
    I agree with your desire to get report before taking responsibility for any patients. Besides, if you work in a system similar to mine the offgoing nurse has responsibility for any treatments or problems until 730 when report is over. So she should have had all the paperwork done and the pt transferred by the time you came out.
  11. by   Good_Queen_Bess
    I think you handled it in the best possible and professional way that you could. She was in the wrong and behaved inappropriatley. You were acknowledging you're own "limitations" in not knowing what to do with the patient and she just acted like a complete bunny boiler. Furthermore, you attempted to resolve this with her and still had no luck. The next step IS to go to your manager/mentor if you have a problem that you cannot resolve. You did the RIGHT thing Gator. This other nurse may have had a bad night and we all "snap" at each other from time to time without meaning it, but she was just being pathetic, as she had had time to calm down when you approached her later. She also had no right to shout at you in front of others as this is also extremley unprofessional, to say the least. If she had a problem, she should have taken you aside.
    Unfortunatley, when I was a student, I had a mentor who was a complete *****, who I could never do anything right for. She had a reputation as a nasty person to students and used to humiliate me infront of patients/relatives/other nurses. I used to go home crying sometimes and wanted to quit. I went to her manager, but nothing was done. I just "stuck it out" until I left that ward and eventually qualified. I wish I had taken it further as this woman made every student's life hell. Unfortunatley, we all have bad placements in our training (and when qualified) at some point and encounter people who you can never please.
  12. by   litepath
    ~~yeah Gator,
    You did do the right thing and it appears went the extra mile to attempt to accomodate her behavior.
    But you were far from aggressive and appear accomodative in your response.
    Many people do not understand assertiveness, and therefore confuse it with aggression. And that probably derives from so many not understanding how to be assertive without being aggressive.
  13. by   Jayne LPN
    ALL I CAN SAY IS WHAT A ******!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  14. by   gwenith
    You handled yourself well. This woman is using bullying tactics - recognise them for what they are and be wary she will try to retrieve control over you in another way. I would guess that some of her attitude comes form the fact that you are "moving up the ladder". Be careful to document all interactions with this woman (as if you don't have enough to do in your life!) but it may be your saving grace one day - it was for me.