Aggression or Assertion

I've been involved in discussion at various times about aggression versus assertion. Having been on the receiving end of some unprovoked aggression in the past, I thought it was something worth sharing. The definitions for these two terms are:

Aggression: = The act of initiating hostilities or invasion; The practice or habit of launching attacks; Hostile or destructive behaviour or actions.

Assertion: = The act of asserting; Inclined to bold or confident assertion.

I'm sure most of us have been in a situation where we wanted to say something but didn't want to cause an argument or alternatively, said something in anger, which you later regretted.

There is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Aggression usually results from too much negative emotion and is a hostile attack usually against someone else.

Assertion is about being confident in standing up for yourself and your beliefs while maintaining respect for others.

If people are unable to communicate effectively it may result in them either being too passive or being overly aggressive. You need to be able to say 'Yes' when you really mean it and 'No' when you mean it.

In order to be assertive - be clear about what you want and how you feel. Communicate your needs in a calm, unemotional way. Be clear, specific and direct. What are the facts relating to the situation and how do you feel about it.

Be clear about your boundaries. What it is that you want and be clear about what you will and won't tolerate. State clearly what you need and why.

Be aware of your body language, tone and the words that you use when being assertive. Don't use confrontational words or tone even if it's likely to be a tough conversation. Be direct, open and honest.

Consider their frame of reference - it may be different from yours, which will affect the message that they receive. What are their values, attitudes and experiences? Always respect the other person's rights and point of view.

Above all keep calm and don't rise to the bait if the other person becomes aggressive. Stand your ground firmly but politely. Be prepared to walk away. Anger and conflict will achieve nothing.


Author of Time Management (For Dummies) Clare enables busy individuals and small business owners to organise their lives more effectively.  How good is your time management - try my FREE Time Audit.  You can read more Time Management and Work Life Balance Articles on my site Receive free Time Tips to Power-up your product...

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