It amazes me how many people confuse the two. Many are under the false impression that bullies are assertive, when, in fact, they’re aggressive- too aggressive. So, how do we know the difference?
1.Assertiveness is confident and respectful. It is never disrespectful, arrogant, or overbearing. When you’re being assertive, your state your case in a calm, cool, and confident manner, while, at the same time, being respectful of other’s different perspectives.
Aggressiveness is forceful and hostile. It’s abusive and it reeks of insecurity and unspoken fear of being ineffective and that the aggressor won’t succeed in getting what they want. When a person is being aggressive, they are dismissive, abusive, and threatening. They instill fear to get what they want because without the injection of fear, they’d be ineffective and irrelevant.
2. People who are assertive take time to listen. They listen to the other person before sharing a differing opinion.
People who are aggressive dominate conversations. These people only interrupt the other person and speak over them. They will even shout the other person down sometimes threatening harm to them if they don’t “shut up.” They will also undermine the other person’s ideas and belittle them with ad hominem (personal) attacks and name-calling.
3. When someone is too loud, an assertive person will ask the person to lower their voice so they can sleep, rest, enjoy a movie, hear their favorite song, etc.
An aggressive person, one the other hand, will demand that the other party “shut the hell up” and threaten physical violence if the person refuses to comply.
4. If an assertive person is in a McDonalds and gets fries that are cold and stale, they’ll explain the problem and ask for fries that are hot and fresh.
An aggressive person will only belittle the fast-food worker and demand hot fries with a threatening look. Some aggressive people might even climb over the counter and try to physically attack the person.
5. If an assertive person is asked for help, they will politely decline.
An aggressive person will shout a rude, “NO!” They will then berate the other person for having the audacity to ask for help.
You get the point.
Assertiveness is mindful and an assertive response is carefully thought out.
Aggressiveness is abusive and brutal.
The assertive person is confident, reasonable, and empathic. Whereas the aggressive person is unreasonable, self-serving, arrogant, loud, and highly opinionated.
Understand that being aggressive is unnecessary but being assertive is essential because if you aren’t assertive, people will only lose respect for you and use you as a doormat. That’s not good either.
You get so much more out of being assertive than you ever will being aggressive because being aggressive puts others on the defensive and will cause them to become resistant. But being assertive puts others at ease and makes them more likely want to fulfill your requests.
Bullies are aggressive.
Confident and healthy people are assertive.
So, be assertive but don’t be aggressive.
This is not to say that being assertive works one hundred percent of the time. There will be times you will run into self-entitled bullies, narcissists, and psychopaths who will rebuff assertiveness and even retaliate against you for your honesty. But most people will respect you for it.
Again, be assertive but never aggressive.
With knowledge comes empowerment!