Assertive - It's that lovely island sitting in between the volcanic build up of letting things slide for too long; the battle zone of aggressive, canceling feedback; and the foggy mind f#@! of passive aggressiveness.
In my heartbreakingly secure work as a conflict consultant and my personal life, I have found that the Goldilocks level of feedback is tough to achieve. Heck, I do this for a living and when I'm heated (my poor partner) I sometimes find it hard not to do resentful patience, fault finding, character assassination, stonewalling, intention assigning, manipulative coaching aka setting up a cornering web of trap questions, and so many other cortisone raising conversational habits.
My inherited practice of meditation and decades of investment in generative conflict engagement have made those habits less frequent and when I do show up in ways that aren't aligned with my values, I catch myself sooner, but I still do all those things.
How can I expect the leaders I'm working with, who haven't spend decades going to meditation retreats and alternative dispute conferences, to show up otherwise?
Better question, perhaps, is what might help us adopt a new habit knowing that the wolf that gets fed is the one that grows?
So I have a trick. We all need tricks, not tomes, when we start to lose executive function.
Behaviors and Experiences
+ Needs and Goals
Sounds simple right? As a colleague says, simple doesn't mean easy. A marathon is putting one foot in front of the other over and over.
Let's say that you and I have been working on a project together. I repeatedly miss emails, some of which are pretty darn important. Your feedback to me might sound like this:
I'm hearing that you aren't sure what I'm referring to. (Behavior)
I am so frustrated to hear that, and borderline despairing. (Experience)
It's hard for us to have this discussion and land at a decision today without both of us having that information. I don't see how I can complete my part without this decision. (Impact)
I want to be understanding because I know you're (understaffed/barely sleeping/juggling). I also have a strong need to be seen as reliable. (2 needs)
I so want this to go according to the planned timeline. I don't want to have these conversations where I feel like I'm nagging or rushing you. I want to have a more certain method of exchanging information before have decision meetings. (goals)
Bonus if you throw in a question at the end such as: Am I making sense? Do you share my perspective? What am I missing? Could you help me understand ____?
Try it out. Let me know how it goes. Seriously! I'd love to hear how you used it.