030 - Coaching Questions for Aggressive Styles

Published on 05 Dec 2018


In part 2 of our coaching questions podcasts, Liana and Dominic discuss what questions you could ask when debriefing someone high in Aggressive/Defensive styles.

Listen to the full discussion and Episode here:

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Key Takeaways from this Episode:


While clarifying and refining ideas by asking probing questions can be a valuable skill, those high in oppositional styles tend to use it destructively. Instead of using questions to gain information or improve, it can be about gaining feelings of importance and self-satisfaction.

Some questions you could ask to prompt the thinking of people with this style are:

  • What is frustrating you right now?
  • Do you have any ideas about what could be done differently?
  • How are the quality of your relationships with others? Would you like them to be different?


Individuals who seek power are motivated by the need to gain prestige, status, and influence. They achieve false, temporary feelings of self-worth by striving to be ‘in charge’ at all times. Power seekers typically lack confidence in others and believe that force, intimidation and coercion are necessary to get results.

Some questions you could ask to prompt the thinking of people with this style are:

  • What happens when something unexpected occurs?
  • What happens when people don’t give you the full story?
  • What’s your level of trust in others? Can they take things and run with them?
  • How are you going with others taking accountability?


While it is largely encouraged and accepted as a measure of success, competitive behaviour is not an effective predictor of achievement in business, sports, or life in general. Competitive people compete to overcome doubts about themselves and their abilities. They attach their sense of self-worth to winning and losing.

Some questions you could ask to prompt the thinking of people with this style are:

  • How do you feel when you haven’t achieved what you set out to achieve?
  • What do you say to yourself in that situation?
  • How do you feel when a peer is promoted or given something you feel was owed to you?
  • How are you going with growing your team?
  • Where are your unique strengths and contributions? What are your goals? What’s valuable to you? What gives you joy?


A dramatic difference exists between the act of perfecting something and the concept of perfectionism. Rather than working to make things the best they can be, perfectionists need to seek flawless results. Perfectionism originates in a fear of failure: Perfectionists tend to believe that unless they are “perfect” they are nothing.

Some questions you could ask to prompt the thinking of people with this style are:

  • What do you do to switch off? (Or: Can you switch off?)
  • What do you do for fun?
  • How do you respond when things aren’t done right up to your standard?
  • Are you creating the space to lead the business and think long term, or are you stuck in the detail?
  • When is enough, enough?

What else would you suggest? Let us know in our LinkedIn discussion group.

Go a question you'd like us to discuss on the podcast? Email podcast@human-synergistics.com.au

Listen to previous Culture Podcasts:

001: Kick Starting a Passive Team
002: Dealing with Delegation
003: Telling Someone They have a Blind Spot
004: What's Wrong with Being Competitive?
005: I have a Competitive Teammate – Help!
006: What is a Toxic Culture?
007: How Leaders Impact Culture
008: Is Culture / Climate / Engagement the same thing?
009: My Manager is Resisting Culture Change
010: How the Banks got here
011: Myth Busters: If I’m not Aggressive then I must be Passive
012: How Culture Works Pt1 – Overview
013: How Culture Works Pt2 – Mission, Philosophy, Structures
014: How Culture Works Pt3 – HR Systems
015: How Culture Works Pt4 – Job Design
016: How Culture Works Pt5 – Leadership
017: Rebecca Kardos, CEO Aurora Energy
018: Is Conflict in Teams Good or Bad?
019: Does Teamwork Work?
020: Tips and tricks for LSI Debriefs
021: Can you use the LSI for Recruitment?
022: Dear C.B., My Manager is Cold
023: Passive LSI Action Tips
024: Aggressive LSI Action Tips
025: Breaking Down Silos
026: SuperMind Neuro Science of Creativity
027: Conference Highlights
028: 8 Keys of Team Effectiveness

029: Coaching Questions for Passive Styles

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