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Friday, Sep 22, 2023

WORKWISE–Over-Aggressiveness Can Be Business Detriment

You may not recognize all of the forms of overly aggressive behavior and their detrimental effect upon work.

“Your behavior directly influences your organization’s profitability,” writes Leslie Braksick, president of The Continuous Learning Group Inc., an international behavioral consulting firm based in Pittsburgh. She is the author of “Unlock Behavior, Unleash Profits” (McGraw-Hill; $21.95).

Robert Turknett, former clinical psychologist, now a coach at the Turknett Leadership Group in Atlanta, agrees: “This (aggressive) type of person, wittingly or unwittingly, can cause undue anxiety and tension, thus hampering productivity.”

Signs And Reinforcers

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Abuse is one obvious form of this behavior. Braksick identifies some of the more subtle forms as:

– “Making binding commitments on behalf of many, without consulting or involving them.

– “Being outspoken on one’s own opinions, beliefs, perceptions and solutions without regard for the effect on others.

– “Masking the work of many as one’s own as an effort to get recognized and get ahead.

– “Overcommitting capabilities of products or services to clients or customers.”

Business culture often reinforces this type of behavior. Turknett cites the generally positive reception of people who take charge effectively and then complete a task. Braksick cites the value of being first to enter a market before all other dot-coms, start-ups and business-to-business solutions companies. “These bold moves do not come from followers,” she comments.

Some companies even have built-in reinforcers, such as raises, promotions and recognition programs, all feeding the “getting results at any cost” mentality, says Braksick , even among people who claim not to encourage it.

“This can often translate into the belief that overly aggressive behavior is acceptable if a person gets results,” she continues. “Intentionally or unintentionally, this increases the probability that these behaviors will recur.”


“They’re most frequently among line managers, who may abuse their authority over their employees,” he observes. “Many are COOs whose overaggression makes them pretty good managers, but undermines their ability to lead.”

He believes sales managers rarely fit in this category because of interpersonal skills developed while learning to work effectively with customers.

Braksick disagrees, finding these personality types more widespread, depending upon industry and level of work: “Within some companies, industries and functions, where behaviors we describe as overly aggressive get heavily reinforced, being aggressive is seen as a good thing or even a key contributor to success.”

What To Do

If you’re overly aggressive, Turknett advises, get beyond “the big blind spot.” Rethink your perspective on what truly nourishes accountability, developing respect for and listening to others, a far less problematic approach to interpersonal relationships. Overall, strive to become more empathic, focusing on others rather than yourself.

Value their strength and skill and give feedback to them. You will then be able to motivate and inspire throughout the workplace more effectively.

Braksick goes a step further, encouraging people to understand everyone has an investment in what they’re doing. “Stakeholders for most workplace issues,” she explains, “tend to be idea, solution and entity originators; strategists; external and internal customers; suppliers of information; those who must act on the decision; and those who will be required to do or say things differently.

“Most often,” she contends, “we fail to acknowledge all of the many stakeholders for our words and actions, and get ourselves in the soup unknowingly.”

Culp sponsors the annual WorkWise Award. For information, visit (www.work-wise.com).

& #352;2000 Universal Press Syndicate


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