Are you confusing aggression with assertion? Perhaps you’ve been told that you’re aggressive and are wondering if it’s true? Or maybe you have a sneaking suspicion that you might be more than just a bit on the scary side? Ponder no more, we’re here to clarify the difference.
We’ve got some key questions to enable you to audit your communication.
- Do you find yourself talking over people to get your point across?
- Are you the loudest person in the room if there’s a debate going on?
- Do you find yourself controlling groups or teams at work to lead them in your direction?
- Do you often feel angry or resentful when others express a different opinion?
- Is it important that you win?
- Do you believe that if you don’t stand up for yourself you’ll be treated as a doormat?
- You believe you’re right and it’s important things go your way
- Is sarcasm your secret weapon?
- Are you convinced others will take advantage of you if you give an inch?
Answered yes? You’re not alone. People often confuse being aggressive with being assertive. A skills deficit along with learning from others who get their own way by being aggressive are often the culprits. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re starting to realise that aggression is your default. We’re all capable of both types of communication given the right (or wrong) circumstances so leave your judgement and self reproach at the door.
It Works For Me
Yes, you might get your own way (sometimes) but the truth is that you’re damaging your relationships and your reputation in the process. There’s also a chance others will try to sabotage negotiations if they feel railroaded by you. Aggression is exhausting and we know from research that anger lowers your immune system. It’s lose – lose.
Aggression is the poor relation to assertion. It’s an ineffective strategy that will only reap resentment and avoidance. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t feel good when you’re running around shouting at people, antagonising them as you attempt to make them see things your way. We can be smarter than that and use our energy for something we actually enjoy.
I’m OK – You’re OK
Eric Berne, the grandfather of transactional analysis (or TA) devised a model of communication that examines how we respond to others with a combination of ‘Parent’, ‘Adult’ or ‘Child’. Assertive behaviour aims for ‘Adult to Adult’ interactions or I’m OK – You’re OK. On a bad day, life can get in the way, triggering us into ‘Parent’ or ‘Child’ mode. Aggression is very firmly characterised by the ‘Child’ an ‘I’m OK – You’re not OK’ mindset and that’s the behaviour that developing assertiveness shifts.
Rights and Responsibilities
Assertiveness rests upon rights and responsibilities. You have the right to express an opinion, say how you feel, present your ideas, to say no. Manuel J Smith even came up with a list of ‘Assertiveness Rights’. In tandem with those rights is also the responsibility to afford others the same. But how?
Assertive Vs Aggressive
We’ve outlined some key areas where you will notice the greatest difference between assertive and aggressive behaviour with some tips to flex your communication style, moving it firmly into assertion rather than aggression.
Aggressive = Glaring or staring at others to emphasise your point or intimidate them.
Assertive = Establishing friendly, emotionally intelligent eye contact
Aggressive = Talking over others, stonewalling, refusal to listen to others viewpoint, aiming to win at all cost
Assertive = Listening, stating your needs and wants, genuinely listening to the other person and aiming for a win – win solution
Aggressive = Valuing yourself, your opinions and feelings above other people
Assertive = Valuing yourself as equal to other people
Aggressive = making yourself bigger with hands on hips or behind your head in an arrogant gesture, finger pointing, invading other peoples space
Assertive = Your non – verbal communication is congruent with your words, your gestures are open and confident
Want to fine tune your skills even more? Visit us at our Events page to find out about our Essential Assertiveness courses https://positivechangeguru.com/events-2/