What is assertive communication and behavior?

What is assertive communication and behavior?

Assertive behavior and communication often get confused with aggression, but there is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive.

Aggressive behavior is assertiveness taken too far.

On the other hand, passive behavior is not assertive enough.

Healthy assertive behavior lies in the middle of the continuum between passive and aggressive.

assertiveness quotes and training

Healthy assertive communication is being able to say what you have to say with tact. It’s standing up for yourself and others—with a combination of honesty and respect. And it’s being able to decide when it’s appropriate to voice your thoughts and feelings.

Passive behavior leads to a squelched communication style. When you are passive, you don't speak up. People can't know what you are thinking and feeling if you don't tell them.

With aggressive behavior, people can be mean and threatening intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes, people think they aren't being mean, they are just being "brutally honest," but brutal honesty isn't a good thing: it's "brutal." There is a better way to let people know what you are thinking. 

Assertive communication style

My assertive communication and behavior definition is:

Expressing your honest opinion ─ with tact.
Standing up for yourself and others with tact. 


What is Assertive behavior, passive behavior, aggressive behavior, being assertive, assertive communication style

Sometimes people bounce back and forth between passive behavior and aggressive behavior. In that case, it may look like:

take it,
take it,
take it,

Neither end of the continuum helps you get your message really heard and neither end leads to healthy, happy relationships.

An assertive communication style is the healthy, balanced approach to expressing yourself.

Assertiveness helps you deliver your thoughts and feelings in a way that gets them out there while minimizing damage and increasing the likelihood that you will be heard. There are no guarantees that you'll be heard even when you deliver your message with tact since you are only part of the equation, but if you don't speak up you can't be heard and if your delivery is brutally honest you can set off fight, flight, or freeze in the hearer and lessen your chances they will absorb your message.

Being assertive is an attitude and skill that needs to be learned.

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  • Ann Silvers
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