It may surprise you to know that bothaggressive people and compliant people are scared to death of conflict and tryto avoid it, albeit by using different strategies.
This is intuitive with compliant people who clearly shy away from conflict, but completely counter-intuitive with aggressive people who always seem to be getting into the ring to smash up others and themselves in the process.
But what I have learned from my 25 years of clinical psychology work is that it is precisely because aggressive people are so terrified of conflict that they do this.
Aggressive people try to decimate the enemy in one king-hit – going excessively on the offensive with the motto ‘kill or be killed’. The more terrified, the more aggressive.
In contrast, compliant people try to avoid conflict altogether by disappearing under the radar and pretending they agree, but meanwhile often harbouring passive, stubborn and bitter resentments that come out through nasty barbs and manipulation.
Both aggressive and compliant people use their strategies because somehow in their formative years they incorrectly learned that other people are hostile to them.
It then followed that it is only reasonable for them to counter such (imagined) hostility by employing unfair tactics back (aggressive or manipulative) in order to get what they want.
But nothing could be less likely to get them what they want. Aggressive and manipulative tactics almost always lead to dismal and pathetic lose-lose outcomes (with both parties smashed to pieces) because they reduce goodwill and cooperation from others.
Also, both strategies keep people stunted. Both strategies stop people learning that conflict doesn’t need to be fought in the ring – it is a wonderful gift that can promote great future solutions to problems, as well as creating depth and closeness in relationships through rational discussion and friendly (albeit, sometimes intense) resolution of differences.