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Aggressive and Assertive Communication

Essay by   •  January 9, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,410 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,970 Views

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This paper will be based on a real life working situation where aggressive communication was displayed. The essay will start off with the importance of handling interpersonal conflict. It will go on to discuss about aggressive and assertive communication, its advantages as well as its disadvantages. The scenario will then be explained in accordance to the relevant communication style displayed. This essay would exemplify how aggressive communication makes situations worst through the scenario. Aggressive communication will only escalate the conflict further; unlike assertive communication which would be able to rectify the situation.

Communication channel

Organizational communication is the process where information is exchanged and understood by two or more parties usually with the intention of motivating or influencing behavior (Kelly, 2000). Communication is simply the flow of information from a source to a receiver and back (Custom Text 2, 2006). It occurs everyday in all organizations. Therefore, it is necessary for us to be able to communicate effectively. Research has also established the importance of communication skills and how it is associated with the success of ones career (Custom Text 2, 2006).

.The sender puts together a message and sends it through a medium in which the sender deems most appropriate to get the message across. The message then reaches the receiver. This constitutes a one-way communication. It is the feedback that allows two-way communication where the receiver shows he/she is listening and clearly understood the message (Dwyer, 1993 as cited by Custom Text 2, 2006: 79).

Numerous studies have revealed that interpersonal communication impacts positively on job satisfaction, commitment, and organizational effectiveness (Bush & Frohman, 1991).

Therefore it is necessary for us to not only learn the technical issues within a company but also master the most effective way to communicate so as to be able to handle a conflict appropriately and hence be able to climb the corporate ladder smoothly.

Communication plays a huge role in conflict because that is how they are expressed, recognized and managed (Canary, Cupach & Serpe, 2001). Although interpersonal conflict is inevitable (Canary, Cupach & Serpe, 2001), appropriate resolution of conflicts would lead to attainment of both parties' goals and intentions whereas inappropriate reactions would escalate the conflict and result in damaging the participants' interpersonal relationship (Ohbuchi & Fukushima, 1997).

What defines aggressive communication?

Infante (1987, as cited by DeWine et al., 1991: 388) has assumed the existence of four specific aggressive communicative traits and they are: Argumentativeness, assertiveness, hostility and verbal aggression. The point to note is that not all four traits are undesirable. Argumentativeness and assertiveness is linked in a way where, all arguing is assertive but not all assertiveness involves arguing (Infante, 1987, as cited by DeWine et al., 1991: 389). Verbal aggression is thought to be the tendency to attack ones self concept instead of the topic of conversation (DeWine et al., 1991).

According to Infante (1987, as cited by DeWine et al., 1991: 389) there are two types of aggression; constructive and destructive. Verbal aggression is considered a form of hostility and is categorized as a destructive aggression, whereas argumentativeness and assertion are constructive aggression. The difference between constructive and destructive is defined by its locus of attack. Constructive locus of attack is on the others position on an issue and destructive is on the others' self concept (Infante & Rancer, 1982).

Aggressive communicators tend to display a style characterized by angry tones and accusation, are intolerant of others, have an attitude of superiority (Loftus, 1992) and fail to take into account of the feelings of others (Raudsepp, 2007). Their goal is often to win the situation with no regards to their opposing parties' opinions (Custom Text 2, 2006). Aggressive communication normally results in two outcomes, a loser and a winner, which brings about a win-lose situation (Veazie, 2005).

Disadvantages of aggressive communication

Aggressive communication begets aggressive communication which escalates the situation and creates more trouble then resolving it (Mongrain & Vettese, 2003). Aggressiveness produces two negative effects; self-concept damage and aggression escalation, which then lead to reduced trust, relationship deterioration, and relationship termination (Kassing & Avtgis, 1999).

According to Infante & Gorden (1985), employees are more satisfied when supervisors are not likely to be verbally aggressive. Verbal aggressiveness is also viewed as dissatisfactory performance (Gorden, Infante & Izzo, 1988) and should not be practiced.

What defines assertive communication?

According to Veazie (2005), assertive communication is when there is equal communication style. This means that both parties have almost the same amount of chance to speak and listen to one another. It also implies that both parties are communicating the same way, meaning voicing out thoughts rationally and not having one party shouting expletives at the other while the other gets intimidated and avoid the conversation. Assertiveness can be described as the ability to stand up for yourself, communicate your rights without offending others (Mongrain & Vettese, 2003) and stop others from taking advantage (Scott, 2006). Assertive behavior is most frequently defined as representing the midpoint on the continuum between nonassertive and aggressive behavior (Rakos, 1991). Several definitions focus on emotional expression as the key element in assertion but one of the best definition is suggested by Rimm and Masters (1979, as cited by Rakos, 1991: 8): "Assertive behavior is interpersonal behavior involving honest and straightforward expression of thoughts and feelings that is socially appropriate and in which takes into account of the feelings and welfare of others."

Assertive communicators tend to demonstrate self confidence and self respect (Giri, 2003). They know how to defend themselves when someone makes an unreasonable request from them (Raudsepp, 2007).

Advantages of assertive communication

An assertive message enhances task effectiveness and to some extent, increased likeness of the person delivering the message (Wilson et al., 2003). Assertive communication also improves relationship between people because part

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