Assertive = Good, Aggressive = Bad

Why all of the confusion about what is assertive behavior versus aggressive behavior? Please allow me to share my thoughts, observations, and research:


Assertive behavior includes diplomacy – aggressive behavior can’t be bothered with niceties

  • Assertive behavior utilizes direct communication “with” tact – aggressive behavior is also direct minus the diplomacy (if your feelings get hurt, that’s your problem)
  • Assertive behavior has respect at the very core of all communication – aggressive behavior has ego at the very heart of well…everything
  • Assertive behavior is focused with a high listening acuity – aggressive behavior interrupts more than listens
  • Assertive behavior is collaborative, willing to look at other viewpoints – aggressive behavior is more about me, me, me
  • Assertive behavior is less inclined to take things personally – aggressive behavior does not take criticism well
  • Assertive behavior is welcoming, attentive – aggressive behavior is impatient, rushed
  • Assertive behavior is trustworthy and forthcoming – aggressive behavior is often referred to as bullying
  • Assertive behavior is curious, open to learning more – aggressive behavior is more status quo
  • Assertive behavior is confident – aggressive behavior is cocky

Yes, there is a fine line between assertiveness and aggressiveness, so what is the easiest way to identify which is which? Just remember, in general, assertive people employ the use of respect within their direct style with the added touch of courtesy. The assertive style uses empathy as a tool of connectivity, which makes them easier to talk to and approach.


As with aggressiveness, assertiveness is a “learned” communication style choice. In my humble opinion, we need much more assertive behavior and considerably less aggressiveness.


And don’t even get me going on passive-aggressive – you know the sneaky people who are the master manipulators! They say one thing to your face while plotting behind your back – aargh!


Finally, what about passive behavior (the fourth option)? It is career suicide for one because passive people don’t speak up enough to showcase their talents. Many brilliant passive individuals are passed over as their voices go unheard.


There are endless benefits to becoming more assertive such as being less stressed and in today’s hectic business world, need I say more?


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