Thursday, March 12, 2015

Assertive or Aggressive?

"The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others."

 -- Sharon Anthony Bower, author Powerquotes - Creating Daily Insights and Inspiration
Volume 7, Number 238 - ISSN: 1523-8008

I was spring cleaning my computer and found this quote again, saved deep in a folder.  I put it here as a draft and then never quite knew how to tackle the subject.  Why is this important to me that it is saved in multiple places but still unused?  I think the problem is that I am still working on it.  This is not clear cut or logical when applied to people that do not play fair.  When a person wants me to be their doormat and I refuse, I'm the one that gets branded aggressive and unreasonable because I do not let them use me they way they want to.  I hurt their feeling....yea, all one of them.  This would be great quote in reference to healthy people but there are a lot of unhealthy people in my life.  I can't avoid all of them.  I am in search of a better description.  This definition leaves the decision if I am aggressive or assertive to someone else.   I do not want to give away that powerful choice.  I decide if I am being aggressive or assertive. 

How about this quote?

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...

I think this is a little closer because it is refers to my intent. 

Thank you Mayo Clinic, I think I have a winner:

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 and beliefs of others.

The part that was missing from the first definition is standing up for my point of view.  I know how to be a doormat.  I know how to be passive aggressive.  I know how to dissociate and disengage and avoid.  I am still learning to stand up for my point of view in a respectful way. 

Interesting articles: This article uses the first quote by Bower.  Going for the Win-Win.




Jonsi said...

Sigh. Thanks for posting this Ruth. I think I sometimes have difficulty understanding the difference between "assertive" and "aggressive." Sometimes, I cross too easily into "aggressive" territory and still think I'm just being assertive.

Ruth said...

Your welcome. I find for me this is an ongoing process of understanding where defending myself switches to attacking someone else. I want to defend myself and my boundaries without trampling the rights of others. However, the slightest boundary is offensive to some people so I can't really gauge what is enough from their reaction.