Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
What is the difference between assertive behavior and aggressive behavior?
- Assertiveness has to do with having an “attitude of confidence.” It is an attitude of self-respect; it is an attitude of respecting other people’s rights. It is an aura of confidence. When you are assertive, you not only ensure that your needs are met to get the job done, but you actually help others be more efficient and effective.
Assertiveness is caring about yourself and what you need as well as caring about others and their needs.
Benefits of Being Assertive
- Reduced anxiety
- A feeling of control
- Increased self-esteem
- Resolution of the situation
- Less stress and wasted time
- You choose when to push a situation or not
- Shows leadership
Choosing When to Assert Yourself
Being assertive involves some risk because you aren’t guaranteed the outcome. You have to be willing to take a chance, knowing the situation may not turn out like you hope it will. However, you have a better chance of having your needs met with assertive action than by being passive or aggressive.
When communicating assertively, it’s a good idea to start at the end—what you want to see happen and then work back. Make sure you clearly communicate your needs or desires. When these are communicated in a direct, tactful manner, you most likely will see the result you expected in the beginning.
If you are doubtful as to whether to assert yourself in a particular situation, you should weigh the pros and cons.
NOTE: It is not necessarily the number of pros vs. cons or vice versa. It is the weight of the pro or con!
Behaviors of Assertive People
- Are direct and specific.
- Outwardly confront something instead of holding it in or stewing over it.
- Take immediate action.
- Give constructive feedback.
- Act responsibly.
- Walk away at their choosing.
- Are active, not reactive.
- Establish deadlines.
- Show others the relationship between their actions and results.
- Do not accept inappropriate behavior.
- Go the source.
- Have the courage to speak up when something is wrong.
Assertive versus Aggressive
Women, especially, seem to have a hard time being assertive. But being assertive is a good thing. Passive people only think about everyone else—what the other person thinks about them; what the other person needs; to the point where they sacrifice what they need. Aggressive people only care about themselves so they don’t care what they say or how they say it. Assertive people care that their needs are met and care about others. It comes down to how you communicate your needs or rights. You want to be firm and state your expectations while caring about others.