Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Can you tell the difference?

There is a fundamental difference between emotional and aggressive behaviour. They are very distinct and a different set of responses is required for each one, although unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s surprisingly easy to mix them up.

Let’s start with emotional behaviour – because in our everyday life that is what we see most often. Anger, sadness, grief and jealousy all fit into the broad term of emotional behaviour – and these emotions can become extreme. Stress, of course, can exacerbate all of it. However in broad terms, I like to think of emotions like weather – they are diverse and powerful and they come and they go as part of the necessary cycles of life. I’m not saying emotions are harmless – they can seem all consuming. Like a terrible storm, they can even harm. But their intent is not to harm – if emotional behaviour is de-escalated, like a terrible storm, it will pass. And that is the fundamental difference.

Aggressive behaviour, on the other hand, is very different. The aggressor intends to harm in some way. The aggression can be verbal, physical, psychological or a mix of several of these. The aggressor’s intention is to cause harm by hurting you physically, emotionally or psychologically. The other telltale sign of aggressive behaviour is that the ‘problem’ becomes the secondary consideration. You are now their problem.

For example, imagine that you are the bearer of bad news. When you tell this bad news to a colleague, an emotional response would be for them to yell into the sky in rage at the bad news. An aggressive response would be for them to yell directly at you, calling you names and thumping the desk.

It’s important to understand that aggressive behaviour isn’t just hitting and punching. It’s any behaviour that is intended to harm you and that includes name calling and intimidation.

Once someone becomes aggressive, they are focusing their attention on you. It’s no longer safe for you to keep engaging with them or trying to calm them down - so leave as quickly and safely as you can.

Written by Fingal Pollock, Trainer & Facilitator at Skillset 



Be a decision making guru...

Have you ever lost sleep trying to make a tough decision?

You lie awake wondering what the right decision is and the to-ing and fro-ing over it feeds ambivalence to make any decision at all.

Here are some ideas to reduce the chances of a bad decision...

1. Don’t get trapped into choosing between two options. Think about the options presented to you and the options outside of that narrow field. Instead of choosing between this and that, search for options that give you both this and that.

2. Analyse the options before you decide to enact one. Consider the very human flaw of confirmation bias in your decision-making process. Force yourself to evaluate information that is contrary to your natural standpoint and consider the positives in that point of view before you consider its negatives.

3. If the decision has your emotions running high, find a way to get a more objective perspective. You might ask someone outside of the situation for their opinion or put yourself in the shoes of another party who might have to make the same decision and ask yourself what they would do if they didn’t have the history or emotional investment that you do.

4. Recognise there are always things you can’t know about the future. We are all making our best guess with the information at hand so prepare for your decision to be the wrong one. Consider the consequences of your decision on a broader horizon and plan to mitigate the risks or how you will respond to them if they eventuate.

Ready for an example?

Imagine you and your partner have bought a house and just discovered you are going to have a baby together. You have chosen one of the rooms to be the nursery, but you are at loggerheads about paint colours. You want to paint it a pale yellow and your partner is holding out for sky blue.

1. Instead of getting locked into yellow and blue only, consider if there are other colours you both like? What does yellow or blue represent to each of you and can you get that same representation from another colour? Is combining the colours an option?

2. Listen to your partners views to understand them not to argue with them. Consider things that you agree on and bring them into your solution.

3. Run your ideas past a colour consultant or think about what works for a nursery now and for resale down the track.

4. Recognise it’s not permanent, if you don’t like it you can change it. The baby will grow up and want something else eventually anyway.

One last trick, if you end up in one of those damned if I do, damned if I don’t decisions... choose what’s right, then at least you know you stood for something when you’re being creamed for it.