Curbing our aggression?

iStock_000011891859XSmall bored womanPerceptions

My very nice Twitter friend, Elaine Clark, commented the other day:

“Why is it that women are aggressive and men assertive – well that is what blokes always tell me!”

I do not have that opinion (and I think Elaine had her tongue in her cheek), but it set me thinking about how perceptions of people govern their success in employment or in business.

Aggressive or assertive?

In large businesses I would have thought that employees perceived as aggressive would not be favoured by their bosses or the owners. However, I have to say that if we think about “assertive” meaning rather pushy and extrovert then I do think that getting noticed does help people to be promoted, sometimes above those who have more ability and knowledge. That goes for both women and men.

Certainly I remember in a previous employment spotting early a very pushy female junior whom I thought would go far. She is now a partner in that international firm. Did her pushiness pay off? It might have done, because another very pushy person but not so clever guy also made partner. I like to think the pushy lady made the higher echelons because she worked hard and is clever too.

I do think it is possible that pushy people get promoted in larger organisations because their managers prefer a quiet life. Do you?

Pushy or confident?

Having met many small business owners since I became one myself, I am not convinced that it pays to be pushy and in-your-face. In fact I know it is not. Don’t you try to avoid those people at networking events who buttonhole you and thrust their flyers and cards at you even though you have not expressed an interest?

There is nothing wrong with putting yourself forward of course. I do, even though it is not really a natural thing for me I am an introvert really, but have trained myself, through watching others, to speak and to do presentations. I try not to talk too much face-to-face about my business unless asked. It is quite different to set out our wares on our websites, or have flyers delivered door to door, because that does not force anyone to look at whatever they don’t want to.

Mainly we need to show what we can do, and what successes we have had, and demonstrate our knowledge. Male or female, we should not be aggressive or assertive so that people notice, because they are likely to react against us.

We need to gain the confidence of our business community. We can have a personal brand which people like without being over-the-top and freaking people out. To me, pushy doesn’t cut it. What do you think?


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Jealousy will get you nowhere

English: envy- 7 deadly sins

Envy- 7 deadly sins (Photo credit: Wikipedia by Alm25)

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Unfortunately it seems to drive much of our modern culture. It is damaging and it detracts from objectivity.

In business, envy has no place. Some suppose many whom they see as their competitors being more successful than they, and waste their energy with jealousy. That is a very negative emotion and certainly will not help their profits.

If your rival down the road is doing better than you, there must be a lesson to be learned. Have a look to see what they are doing better. How do they market their business? How do they source their products if they are in retail? How do they manage their overheads? All these questions are likely to be quite easily answered with a bit of research. Perhaps you can ask the business owners.

I have a different philosophy towards others in my business. I do not see them as rivals. With small businesses there is generally plenty of the cake for everyone just as long as we know the routes to our customers.

Treat your “competitors” as friends. Most will be willing to help if you are struggling. After all, unless your premises are next door to each other you hardly have to fight for footfall.

Listen to others and see what you can learn. I am sure you do. It is a shame for those who complain about others but never change their ways. We can be our worst enemies, especially when we let jealousy get in the way of our objectivity.

Do you know any green-eyed monsters in your business sector?



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Blowing ourselves Sky High in our business lives

Movie poster for 1920 film.

Image via Wikipedia

A week or so back my wife and I were watching the Disney film Sky High with the nine-year old granddaughter. I rather enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun, and in a way it struck me it was an allegory and rang many bells for me.

The story is about a school for the children of superheroes. When the children first go to the school they are chosen on their own ability as potential superheroes and if they do not match up they are put in the side-kick class or stream. Maybe that is how poor Robin learned to be such an idiot.

In the movie, the sidekick children pretty much end up saving the day when an evil Arch Villain threatens to destroy the school and the superhero parents. When they are triumphant the sidekick kids find they have developed superhero powers after all and no doubt they will be a success in the evil world out there.


So at an early age there is a danger that we will all be classified according to our assumed abilities without a great deal of testing. I was certainly classified as a sidekick in my early days in secondary education even though that I had to be quite bright to get into the school in the first place.


Very rough contemporaries of mine who became “superheroes” soon after leaving education were a famous disc jockey cum TV presenter, a popular comedian and comedy actor and an author of an extremely well-known series of comic science fiction novels. If you really press me I might put names to these people but I am not a name-dropper (well, OK, I might be). There was also a well-known politician but I am not sure if he is a superhero or an arch-villain. I guess it would depend on your politics.

Comparisons and success

It is easy for all of us to try to compare ourselves to contemporaries as we get older. Of course many have been more successful than I have in their calling or business. Perhaps others less so. However by hard work and dogged determination we can get there and earn our superhero’s cloak (maybe we don’t want those tight pants).

Success is not measured by fame and nor is it measured purely by money, but what we can achieve, and nearly always by how happy we are and how happy we are able to help other people to be.

For most success is not instant. Usually it involves a hard slog, and often success is in enjoying the game; what we do. Our super powers will come and while we may not be as famous as Wonder Woman or Superman, sheer application will get us there.

What do you think?

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