Behavioral Scale Deep Dive: Low Aggression

Aggression: The desire to be assertive, stretch limits, test boundaries, be competitive, and push others to their limits of tolerance.

Aggression can be a difficult scale to balance, and can get convoluted when we relate it to assertiveness. We can all recognize that a level of assertiveness in one’s life is healthy and yields effective communication and results, helping you to achieve goals and pursue what is important to you. However, if you become too assertive it can lead to aggression that can lead to negative outcomes. In this week’s deep dive, we look at someone who’s on the opposite side of the spectrum and is often passive in their daily life.

Low Aggression

Meet Jenna. Everyone likes being around Jenna for her warm, easy going nature. She rarely gets angry and is often very flexible and patient with her coworkers. She wants to please everyone and not cause issues. However, sometimes Jenna has a hard time expressing how she’s really feeling or things that are bothering her and would rather suppress any conflicts instead of deal with them head on. She doesn’t like causing problems with other people and will take on work just to avoid an issue.

Jenna is an example of someone who likely has a low aggression score. She:

  • Provides a calming influence on others
  • Is patient, slow to anger and often very tolerant
  • Tends to be a peacemaker who makes few if any demands on others
  • Has a win/win philosophy
  • Is easy to be around and non-threatening
  • Tends to see the good in others and is flexible
  • Is not very competitive and prefers team to individual accomplishments
  • Is more patient, tends to avoid conflict, and demands very little from others
  • Tends to be more submissive, modest, reserved and careful

Tips for Managing High Scorers

Although low scorers in Aggression can be a calming influence on their more hot headed counterparts, sometimes their avoidance and fear of conflict can create issues. People who score low in aggression can have a tendency to express themselves in more passive-aggressive ways (sarcasm, the silent treatment, running late, etc) which can be damaging to the relationships in the workplace.

Here are some ways to manage and encourage the growth of someone with a low aggression score:

  • Encourage them to pay special attention to their ability to directly ask for what they want or need help with, or other assertive behavior. They will need to practice this behavior to be comfortable with it. 
  • Being noticed motivates them. Being heard and taking the time to listen also motivates the low scorer in Aggression. 
  • Encourage them to speak up, and use uncharacteristic language once in a while to get the attention of others when the issue is really important to them.
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