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Do You Cross the Line Between Assertiveness and Aggressiveness?

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Our society has a tendency to reward aggressive behavior. It’s easy to see. Many of the most powerful and successful people in this country are aggressive.


However, aggressiveness has a cost. You always have to watch your back, and you lack loyal supporters when you approach the world in an aggressive way.


When you’re aggressive in one part of your life, you tend to be aggressive in others. This can be highly detrimental to your relationships and social life. You also potentially draw the wrath of others.


See how assertiveness can be a great alternative to aggressiveness:


1. Aggressive behavior has negative consequences. Aggression has a negative impact on others. And while it can have positive consequences on the person acting aggressively, there are negative consequences, too.


◦ Others feel hostility toward you as a result of your aggressive behavior. This can come back to haunt you in the future. This person certainly won’t be your ally in the future. You create enemies when you act aggressively.


2. Assertive behavior has positive consequences. When you’re assertive, good things happen in your life. It shows respect for other people and leads them to hold you in high regard.


◦ Assertive behavior can enhance your relationships and defuse uncomfortable situations.


◦ You can get what you want by being assertive without upsetting or taking advantage of others.


3. Aggressive behavior has a selfish motivation. When you act aggressively, you only have your own interests in mind. There’s a lack of consideration and respect for others. Your objective or your ego is the only thing that’s relevant to you.


4. Assertive behavior considers others. When you’re assertive, you’re taking into account the impact of your words and behavior on other people. Take a moment and ask yourself how the other person is likely to feel and behave as a consequence of your actions.


Assertiveness is almost always a better alternative than aggressiveness. But, how does one act assertively?


Use these strategies to harness the power of assertiveness in your daily life:


1. Be honest and respectful when communicating your needs and intentions. Lying isn’t assertive. Disrespect isn’t assertive. Honest and respectful communication is assertive. Assertiveness is honest and polite.


2. Take responsibility for communicating your needs. People can’t read your mind. When you’re assertive, you’re upfront with your wants and needs. Take responsibility for this part of your life and avoid making others responsible.


3. Consider the impact of your behavior and words on others. Before taking action or opening your mouth, consider what impact your decision is likely to have on others. You’re important, but so are other people.


4. Speak up when people behave poorly. Assertive people call people on their bad behavior. If someone is treating you poorly, call attention to their behavior and let them know that you don’t appreciate it and aren’t going to tolerate it. This can be uncomfortable, but it’s the assertive option.


Many people are uncomfortable with assertiveness. They believe that it’s impolite or selfish to make their needs known. However, it’s actually rude to keep your needs to yourself. Everyone close to you suffers when you keep your opinions, likes, dislikes, and needs to yourself.


Many aggressive people are afraid they’ll be rejected if they’re assertive. They believe they’ll have better luck if they intimidate others into giving them what they want.


It’s not always easy to be assertive, but it’s the best option in most situations. Let other people know what they can do to make you happy! Speak up for yourself and show the world that you believe in yourself and that you deserve the same respect that you give to others.


- Jordan Mossman



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