“Being assertive is a core communication skill. Being assertive means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights of others.” -Mayo Clinic Staff
Aggressive people tend to put their needs before the needs of others. Passive people tend to put the needs of others above themselves. Passive-aggressive people tend to suffer in silence and then snap, or act like everything is alright only to get the person back in a covert way. Passive-aggressive people often use sarcasm and “all in good fun” jokes to disguise their anger.
People who are assertive exhibit greater amounts of self-compassion. They are less depressed, less resentful, and less anxious. Although they may experience some initial anxiety when standing up for themselves, especially if they are not used to taking a stand, they are less likely to experience chronic long-lasting anxiety.
People who are assertive not only learn to respect themselves but they gain the respect of others. They refuse to suffer in silence. They will speak up when someone crosses the line of common decency, but never in a “loud- in your face” kind of way.
An assertive person will not please others at all costs, but they will treat others with kindness, compassion, and respect. They do not approach life thinking that their needs are more important than the needs of others or that the needs of others are more important than their needs. They approach life with a different but equal perspective. They value others, and they value themselves.
An assertive person does not volunteer to be a victim and will leave a relationship in which someone is abusing them or their children. They put up with the temporary anxiety that accompanies change in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.
People who are assertive know their boundaries and are able to set limits with others. They do not resort to physical aggression or verbal attacks. They do not allow grievances to build and therefore, rarely explode with anger.
When assertive people do become angry, they do not handle conflict in a passive-aggressive way. They are not perpetually late. They do not chronically procrastinate. They do not take jabs at others. And they do not tell someone that everything is great, only to run behind their back and vent.
When assertive people become angry, there is no need to get someone back by being late, procrastinating, taking jabs, using sarcasm, or talking behind someone’s back. There is no need for any of these behaviors because the assertive person is respectful yet direct about the way that he or she is feeling.
The assertive person is also less likely to take their anger out on themselves through self-sabotaging behaviors or to turn to addictions to numb out their anger and pain. The anger has already been released in a calm, appropriate, and direct way.
Assertive people are usually less stressed and more peaceful people. They are happier people, and they are healthier people.
Most communication styles are learned in childhood. And anything learned can be unlearned. It is never too late to change the way in which you communicate.
How about you? How do you communicate? Do you tend to be passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or assertive?
An excellent resource to help you become more assertive is Sam Horn’s book, Take the Bully by the Horns.