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Lesson 61 - When Does Aggressiveness Turn Into Annoyance?

The Story

When attending conferences, conventions, or private events, it's guaranteed that you will talk with many people, especially those sitting at your table. Perhaps you may talk with someone you haven't met before. Some time ago, while in attendance at an event, I was introduced to an insurance/financial consultant working for a major Fortune 500 company. He was very personable and the conversation was pleasant throughout the evening.

We exchanged business cards at the end of the night and parted ways. The next week I received a telephone call from the consultant requesting that I hire his firm to manage my financial portfolio. After I explained to him that I was already taken care of in that area I figured the discussion was over. Several weeks later he called again, and once again, he offered to have his company manage my portfolio. Again I expressed that I was happy with the company who was already managing my portfolio.

For several months the consultant called me attempting to lure my business to his company after I had explicitly said I would pass on the offer. After repeatedly turning him down, the consultant recommended my name to his colleague, who wanted to borrow my mailing list for his company's marketing purposes. I blatantly refused to lend my mailing list but I offered to help in other ways. In hindsight, I began to wonder if the man's entire introduction, from our first meeting forward, was designed expressly to profit his organization.

It was during a conversation with the second gentleman that I became even more annoyed. He said, "You should allow [the consultant] to manage your financial portfolio."

I quickly analyzed the situation. The consultant definitely asked this other guy to say something to me about managing my portfolio. It was at this point that I terminated all communication with the both of them. But Horace Jones, President and CEO of ARTI, Inc. said it best "Tolerance levels vary with different people, but they depend on the type of business that is being represented and how it is being represented. If a declaration has been made and the person still becomes a problem, let them know."

Vincent Alvarez, IT Technical Manager said, "Aggressiveness is usually a tool employed to obtain a desired decision while arguing a point. Aggressiveness turns into annoyance once a decision has been made to continue making your point after the point is mute. On the other hand, if the person making the decision doesn't explicitly communicate his position clearly to the other party, this causes continuance."

Alvarez went on to say that "When this happens often to avoid problems the decision maker should re-state his position instead of putting off the person with a "maybe next week" attitude. This is because the person will keep trying to get a firm decision until satisfied, and most people will do whatever necessary to get what they want, which can be annoying in and of itself.

Jocelyn Cooley, an Executive Recruiter with America Online/Time Warner Inc., said during our interview that "Being aggressive can be a good thing, but many people become annoyed when a person doesn't give the proper amount of time to perform the task that was agreed upon. Included with that is how professional the follow-up is made. Whether by telephone, email, or written letter, remember to be savvy and know what's what. Also, remember that recruiters and hiring managers have a responsibility to give constructive feedback to prospective candidates when they have crossed over the line from aggressiveness to annoyance.

The Lesson

There are many ways people can become annoying in their pursuit of your business patronage. It is imperative that when you meet new alliances, or while in your existing partnerships, you learn to listen and don't be conniving in trying to change someone's mind or attempt to use others to do your dirty work for you. The result may be the loss of an alliance and receiving a bad reputation, so, learning to listen is key.

More importantly, it is the style and method that you approach people with which matters most. Using a non-aggressive approach each time will give you yardage on each initial contact. Keep an open mind, get a proper decision, and express interest in speaking in the future. If you follow these guidelines your party will not be annoyed, and will seek your business skills in the future.

Melvin Murphy, consummate speaker, author and seminar leader has written several books including the latest titled, "It's Who You Know! Creating Alliances and Partneships Through Networking" which this article is excerted. Comments to: or

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