Assertive people have acquired the skills to state their opinions to others in a respectful manner while those who are aggressive attack others and force their opinions on others, according to the article, "Assertive Versus Unassertive and Aggressive Behavior," published on the Mountain State Centers for Independent Living 12. Assertive people have a better chance of gaining the respect of those around them as they are able to stand up for themselves while considering the needs and views of others, according to the "Psychology Today," article "How to Be Assertive, Not Aggressive." Aggressive people can be intimidating; others may begin to avoid them 2.
Everyone Is Okay
Assertive behavior allows everyone to feel comfortable and safe, while aggressive people tend to seek control and get their way even if it means hurting others 2. For example, if you had a disagreement with a coworker regarding a project you were working on together, being assertive will allow the two of you to avoid hurting one another and to reach your goal without alienating one another, according to Mountain State Centers for Independent Living 1. Even if the outcome is not completely in your favor, you will feel respected and valued as a person because your coworker heard your thoughts and feelings regarding the issue and vice versa before you brainstormed a decision together.
Being aware of the reactions of those around you is a big difference between being assertive or aggressive, according to Lynn Taylor in a "Psychology Today" article 2. People who are assertive exude confidence and self-assurance; they make eye contact with those they are speaking to and resist reacting in a negative or explosive manner. Aggressive people are often forceful, out of tune with others and seem to have a tunnel vision with the focus on what their desired outcome should be, according to The College of New Jersey.
Aggressive people may stare in an angry or irritated manner at others, while assertive people generally appear relaxed and open even when confronted with a stressful situation, according to Mountain State Centers for Independent Living 12. Aggressive people may talk in loud voices, interrupt others or otherwise dominate the conversation. Their expressions may shut people down by intimidating them. For example, a husband may yell and glare at his wife during an argument. Rather than deal with the underlying issue, his wife may now be focused on how to get away from him. Assertive people are more likely to speak in a calm, conversational tone while using expressions that match what they are saying. During a disagreement, a couple will both be able to discuss the issue at hand, discuss problem-solving options and come to an agreement or compromise they can both live with.
Staying in the Game
Once someone is labeled an aggressive person, it can be difficult to change. Aggressive people often appear commanding and place high expectations on others, according to Psychology Today 2. If those expectations aren't met, the aggressive person may have an outburst or explosion. Learning to lead others by gently taking the reins and allowing others to speak and act openly will help the assertive person to gain the respect of others. This is a useful and necessary skill for all areas of life.
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