What behaviour is defined as assertive?

How hard is it to make a clear distinction between aggressiveness and assertive. From my experience it is accepted that there really isn’t any difference when it comes down to actual practical application. I have seen people verbally trodden on both publicly and privately and yet the perpetrator is deemed as having a strong character, a will of iron and great assertiveness skills. These situations have happened far too many times and have left me very puzzled, surely it can’t be that the word ‘assertiveness’ was created to cover up an individuals bad temper, surely the nation/world has not succumbed to the ‘stick’ rather than the ‘carrot’ mode of conduct. Alas I see this very same ‘Stick’ being used all too often and it has left me yearning to find the true definition and practical application of assertive behaviour.

Assertive behavior is:

  • Standing up for one’s rights no matter what the circumstance.
  • Correcting the situation when one’s rights are being violated.
  • Seeking respect and understanding for one’s feelings about a particular situation or circumstance.
  • Interacting in a mature manner with those found to be offensive, defensive, aggressive, hostile, blaming, attacking, or otherwise unreceptive.
  • Direct, upfront, (not defensive or manipulative) behavior. Those using assertive behavior confront problems, disagreement, or personal discomforts head on, and their intent is unmistakable to others.
  • Verbal “I” statements, where individuals tell others how they feel about a situation, circumstance, or the behavior of others.
  • Taking the risk of being misunderstood as being aggressive, abrasive, or attacking *
  • Being able to protect one’s rights while protecting and respecting the rights of others.
  • Risk-taking behavior that is not ruled by fear of rejection or disapproval, but is directed by the rational belief that “I deserve to stand up for my rights.”
  • Rational thinking and the self-affirmation of personal worth, respect, and rights.
  • A healthy style in which to conduct interpersonal relationships.
    Finding a “win-win” solution in handling problems between two individuals.

So it would seem that in the element of demonstrating assertiveness you might have to “Take the risk of being misunderstood as being aggressive, abrasive, or attacking”*, but what entities ensure that you are being assertiveness and not aggressive.

The “you win and I lose” solution is a passive solution where one individual gives up his rights to another. The “you lose and I win” solution is an aggressive solution where one individual ignores the rights of another in order to get his way. The “you lose and I lose” solution is a total passive solution where both individuals give up their rights. A healthy resolution is impossible. The “you win and I win” solution is an assertive .

“We are injured and hurt emotionally, not so much by other people or what they say and don’t say, but by our own attitude and our own response.”

Maxwell Maltz





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