I was told to be more "aggressive".. What does that mean?

Ok, in need of legit advice now. I was told to act more "aggressive." I guess I do have a more reserved personality, I usually prefer to think before I say things, and always want to make sure they come out right. I am definitely not the loudest person in class. I actually sleep through most of my classes (this is part of the reason I don't raise my hand in class). When professors ask if there are any questions, I could rarely come up with a very good and difficult question, because in my opinion, if I ask something easy or something I could figure out on my own, it is simply not worth wasting class time. So I don't want to just ask questions for the sake of participating.

Also, I prefer to listen to others who are more experienced than me because I like to learn from them, as they clearly had more experience in the workplace and finance, and have much more to add than me. So that's another reason why I sort of take the sidelines.

So what exactly does being more "aggressive" mean? Does it mean asking more questions or being more vocal? Did anyone have this experience also and can give advice?

Side note: among my friends, it is actually the opposite for some reason. It is only in work place and classroom that I come off as "reserved."

Comments (32)

Apr 10, 2016

It means what it sounds like. Stop getting so goddamn shy when there's an adult or a senior in the room. Say your opinions, ask interesting questions with words rather than with silence, and don't come across like an ass-kisser. If it's anxiety/cortisol, lift a ton, eat some salmon, pull hard on the erg machine. Bang, slaying interviews and getting tail at the same damn time

    • 5
    • 1
Apr 10, 2016

Erg machine sounds really good... Thanks for advice!!

It ain't what you know, it's who you know

Apr 10, 2016

I don't know you so this is just my 2 cents.

If someone said I need to be more "aggressive" I would take it as stop being a pussy.

But hey, thats just me.

    • 2
Apr 11, 2016

@flipcup is spot on. I would recommend the following routine to get started:

  • 8 x 500 meters / 1 minute rest
  • Do 8 times 500 meters with a 1 minute rest.
  • Aim for a consistent average erg score.
  • You can vary the intensity using average power or rating.
  • Or, if you are feeling really good, extend the session to 10 x 500 meters while slaying tail.
    • 1
Apr 11, 2016

i was told to take the lead in my AC. screwed up the group exercise and got told i was arrogant by HR.
be careful of misguided advice especially if its from someone fundamentally different from you. eg : a young female banker in my case.

Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Apr 11, 2016

A lot of people 'hedge' their proposals or ideas by undercutting their initial idea, which doesn't generate a lot of faith. If you have an idea to add, say it, and wait for their response. Another rule of thumb during meetings, I try to only speak when I'm directly adding value. Keep in mind, busy people value their time and hate meetings that drag on because of repetition or frivolous shit. I've said it before: never miss an opportunity to shut the fuck up.

Apr 11, 2016

In another time (about a 100 years ago), a man who was generous, principled and didn't speak bs was considered the epitome of being a man.

However, this is not the case anymore unfortunately. We need more people who think before they speak and doesn't talk for the sake of it.

Rather than becoming "aggressive", stick up for yourself but don't worship your own ego. You'll make better choices in life.

    • 3
Apr 11, 2016
mADanalyst:

In another time (about a 100 years ago), a man who was generous, principled and didn't speak bs was considered the epitome of being a man.

However, this is not the case anymore unfortunately. We need more people who think before they speak and doesn't talk for the sake of it.

Rather than becoming "aggressive", stick up for yourself but don't worship your own ego. You'll make better choices in life.

Sadly true. It's pathetic how shallow the society has become overall.

Apr 11, 2016
mADanalyst:

In another time (about a 100 years ago), a man who was generous, principled and didn't speak bs was considered the epitome of being a man.

However, this is not the case anymore unfortunately. We need more people who think before they speak and doesn't talk for the sake of it.

Rather than becoming "aggressive", stick up for yourself but don't worship your own ego. You'll make better choices in life.

This is so true, glad I am not alone in this thinking.

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Apr 11, 2016

You can be assertive without speaking BS or speaking for the sake of speaking. It means speaking up when you have something valuable to add, and having the confidence to know when those moments are. It's a spectrum, not a dichotomy.

Apr 10, 2016

That's the hardest part - distinguishing the times when you should speak and when you should not. I spend way too much time thinking in my head whether my idea will be valuable to my MD or I am just wasting his time. When I leave his office, I am always like, "damnn, maybe I should have told him this or that..." And this list never ends..

It ain't what you know, it's who you know

Apr 11, 2016

Oh boy, this is such a trap situation, I have been told to be aggressive and then told off for being aggressive, sometime senior management themselves have no clue to what they are asking for, I am glad this question was asked here so I can better understand how to deal with this as well.

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

Best Response
Apr 11, 2016

I'm a senior undergrad now and I was definitely more reserved/introverted first couple years of school. That has slowly changed over the years. Last year I met with a MBA program director at our school of business to get some advice on how to get into a career in Investment Management. He is a former hedge fund manager and while I was expecting a nice civil info interview, he grilled me on why I wanted it and I wasn't able to give him a great answer. That led him to offer me a great piece of advice. He told me that in his opinion, monkeys these days aren't bold enough to state that they want something. Furthermore, they don't know their "why" well enough. He said that in interviews, kids aren't willing to come out and say with conviction "I want this job because of reason A, B, and C." He told me that he tested me by asking me why I wanted to go down this career path and my answer was only so-so, unconvincing. Haha...that was a humbling moment. But that was probably the most valuable info interviews. I went home and over the next couple weeks underwent some major self-reflection and identification of my goals and most importantly WHY I wanted to achieve them. Fast forward a couple months, I interviewed for a Trading Job I wanted and ended up calling the interviewer a couple days after second interview to tell him how bad I wanted it and why I wanted it. I was offered the job that night. Once I figured what exactly I wanted and why, it became easy to be more "aggressive."

Moral of the story: Know your "why"
- if you know your "why" you will never have trouble convincing others that you want it
- if you know your "why" motivation to achieve your difficult goals will be a lot easier because when the going gets difficult, you will have some reasons to keep going
- if you know your "why" being aggressive will be a lot easier; when you're in networking events, speaker events, recruiting events, interviews or whatever, you will want to ask questions, meet people, and otherwise communicate your desire to break into IB or whatever
- if you know your "why" you'll be less concerned about being wrong in front of people, and more concerned about missing opportunities to learn by asking questions and putting yourself out there

Hope this helps. This is some of the greatest and most helpful advice I have ever received to this point and I wanted to share.

    • 29
Apr 11, 2016

@UniverseCapital

I agree with this, know your "WHY" would be a strong foundation on everything.

While guiding/developing my Team in business, while preparing proposals to C-levels or Board of Directors at my company, or on most other occassions, I use "start with why" or put "know your why" into practice and it gives great results. One of my favourite lesson is "Start with why by Simon Sinek at TED talk".

@Alibabes56

In my opinion, if someone told you to act more "aggressive", try to obtain clearer or more information from him/her. Usually when people gives constructive feedback with sincere intention, they will elaborate more and gives specific examples so that they won't leave us in the dark or confusion.

I see that others have shared their views on what does being more "aggressive" mean, so from me, I'd just like to share for us to consider one thing, which is the "situational management style". We might need to be more aggressive on certain situations but be unaggressive on the other situations; we might press the accelerate pedal or press the brake pedal; all depends on the situation. Therefore, keep shaping and improving our skills to determine what style or actions are the best to take for each situations. Try not to generalize everything or finding one magic cure for all disseases; most of the time it would be case-by-case basis.

That's just my 2 cents.

Apr 12, 2016

Clutch!!

Apr 11, 2016

Convince yourself that you have to be aggressive to survive in the industry (because you do). As a very introverted person, once I realized that I would be either out of a job or looking at a limited career trajectory in trading unless I got a lot louder, more assertive & confident at my job, it was actually very easy. I now have a "work personality", which sounds weird but I feel like I'm really benefiting from it. I can still be quieter/laidback with my friends & family but not at work.

Apr 11, 2016

"Coffee is for closers" at Perella Weinberg. PWP recently hired a coaching firm, Templar Associates that apparently teaches them textbook (or film book) Glengarry Glen Ross. http://dealbreaker.com/2016/04/coffee-is-for-close...

Apr 12, 2016

Read the book Relentless by Tim Grover

Apr 16, 2016

Well, first of all let me point out that I have a quite uncommon experience as I work at a Swiss boutique and deal mostly with people in the continental Europe. That's probably a big premise because of the different style and cultures in the countries.
Anyway, having 5 years of corporate finance experience, maybe my contribution may help and thus, here it is. Indeed, I think that during all these years I meet all kind of personalities, both aggressive and not.

Aggressive behavior is quite common and I think can help in a number of situation (e.g. When you are in the weak side of a negotiation). But for my experience it is not strictly necessary and, on the contrary, it's a pleasant experience to spend a couple of hours in a meeting with someone that's not acting like 'ok, you are worthless and probably I am just wasting my time with you, then I'll grIll you'. I always have the impression to have learnt more than when I have to cope with someone that goes all the time 'ok, so what is this? And when comes that? And that?'. In addition, I have the feeling that frequently the aggressive people listen what you are saying just to prepare their response instead of grasping what you are telling them.

But I don't think that without aggressive you can't achieve anything. I've meet successfully finance professionals that aren't aggressive at all. I am thinking in particular to a partner at one of the most prominent VC fund in Italy and an investment manager at a PE firm backed by HNWIs and FOs. Probably they've been this way all their life, also when they were junior (no, they aren't coming from wealthy families that gave them a bunch of millions just to have them a job).

I am too not very aggressive while a colleague (associate like me) at my firm, who did some years of strategy consulting, is quite aggressive in all he does. Honestly, I don't think that his approach leads to different/better results.

But I strongly agree with universecapital, it's all about your WHY. Even if you are more reflexive, you know when saying something is VERY important (because is somehow linked to your WHY) and thus, you'll be pushed by yourself to say it. All the other times, it won't change on the outcome. Or it will change but you'll never know.

Wrapping up, I think that the point is make your own idea of the things and defend your vision, until proved wrong, but it's not necessary to throw it all around.

    • 1
Aug 20, 2016

You could start improving your presence by precisely bringing your opinion and making sure people around are aware that you are also able to make good points.
No need to transform your cubicle into a fight club sample but if you're perceived as shy it might have some negative consequences on your development later on as you really need to put yourself up there

Aug 20, 2016

Have you asked the person who told you to be more aggressive?

Boss: Be more aggressive..

Alibabes56: Thank you for the feedback. Could you please elaborate on what you mean by that? Do you want me to speak up more or take more initiative?

Boss: (e.g.) take more initiative

Alibabes56: (tie it to something concrete) So you mean something like... in the last team meeting I could have volunteered to work on the xyz issue our team in facing for the last couple of weeks?

Boss: Yes. that would have been great.

Alibabes56: I think I understand now.. Let me take this opportunity to say that I volunteer to SB any and all comments by MBA_Junkie for ever and ever..

Boss: That's the spirit!

Apr 11, 2016

This is how I would reply to my boss:

Boss, "there are 3 reasons for why you can't beat me. First, I'm better looking than you are. Second, your blows are too light. And third, there's nothing in the world I can't tear up."

-- Akimine Kamijyo, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Volume 03

Aug 20, 2016

go all Don Draper and Roger Sterling on your female co-workers; fight club on the men. you're welcome.

Aug 20, 2016

boobies

Aug 20, 2016

that is correct, wall st loves aggressive

Aug 20, 2016

I am being quite aggressive in trying to network with people. I am not afraid to call people up if they don't respond to my emails.
Shapo-Are you doing an IB internship?

Aug 20, 2016

Yes, seniors are agressive, but remember you're an intertn. Don't be too pushy because there is a very fine line between go-get-em-tiger agressiveness and getting on someone's nerves when you're a junior. Be persisten't but dont cross the line.

"Living the dream 24/7 on http://theallnighter.blogspot.com"

"LIVING THE DREAM 24/7 ON http://THEALLNIGHTER.BLOGSPOT.COM"

Aug 20, 2016

Who does business well for himself, does well for the firm.

Aug 20, 2016

models and bottles dudde

Aug 20, 2016
Comment
Aug 20, 2016
Comment