Passive, Assertive, and Aggressive Behaviors
You work for a large company, in an office with over 60 people. You have
been assigned as a project leader responsible for creating a sales presentation
to one of the company‟s biggest customers. The presentation will be in four days,
and your team must work well together to meet this deadline.
Three of the six people that have been placed on your team are people
you have never worked with before. Even though you are responsible for this
project, the other team members have the same job title as you, (they are your
peers- you are not their boss).
Write two or three paragraphs explaining how you would deal with one of
the following „challenging‟ personalities on your team:
Does not participate in discussions; goes along with whatever is
happening; adds nothing new to the group; is bossed around by other group
members, even if this doesn‟t help the group.
Frequently expresses opinion; insists that his/her way is the best or
smartest way of going about things; takes over leadership of group by making
suggestions about how things should be done.
Repeatedly interrupts the group; cuts people off mid-sentence; gives
orders as if he/she was the boss; puts down other group members and their
ideas when he/she disagrees with them.
Things to consider when dealing with the „challenging‟ personality assigned from
the list above:
- this is a co-worker that you have not worked with before.
- you are not this person‟s boss.
- you may have to work on their team some time soon.
- this person might be jealous that you were picked as leader.
- this person might have been hired before you.
- you have lots to do and only four days to get it done.
- you are responsible for how well the final presentation goes.
- where and when will you deal with this person?
- have you thought about how they will respond to you?
- how will you respond to a personal attack, or denial?
- what will happen if the behavior continues?
Split the class evenly between the 3 groups above. Assign the activity. Let
students discuss this before going home to work on the paragraphs.
Next class, students get into „expert‟ groups to hone their skill dealing with the
challenging personality they were assigned.
Describe, with suggestions from the class, what a person with the challenging
personalities would look, act, and sound like. Also, you can develop the scenario
more: The team is presenting an advertising campaign and the client hated the
last one their company presented etc., (provide some content for the role play).
Students get into groups of 3, one from each group above, to act as the „expert‟
with dealing with the specific behavior they wrote about.
One student acts as the Passive, Aggressive or Assertive person.
One student acts as the project leader who has decided to deal with the
One student is an observer. A „T‟ chart can be made to distinguish between what
worked well and what didn‟t. Also consider, “What could be done differently?”
Run the activity x3 with each person getting a chance in each role.
Let some students that do well (in each role including the challenging behaviors
as well as the leaders) role play for the whole class.
This lesson is a great introduction to teaching interpersonal and communication
skills… Or it can be a culminating activity to see what students have learned.
Key concepts include:
Listening skills; “I” Messages; universal qualifiers (such as „all‟, „every‟, „never‟..);
ad hominem/ personal attack; straw dog arguments; Switching from “Yeah But…”
to “Yes And…”; Future Pacing.