23 Aug Staying assertive, not aggressive, or passive aggressive
Being assertive means respecting yourself and asserting your rights whilst still being respectful of other’ rights and opinions.
Failing to our assert ourselves can lead to either passive behaviour where we let others walk over us, aggressive behaviour where we show disrespect for others’ right or opinions, or passive-aggressive behaviour where we only indirectly express our feelings and help neither ourselves or others.
Staying assertive means finding the right balance, and it can be tricky.
Managing your mindset
The challenge starts with staying calm and managing your mindset.
e get emotional – scared, anxious, angry, resentful, frustrated – we can sometimes lapse back into our primal (caveman) states where we demonstrate fight or flight behaviours.
Fight behaviours, such as defensiveness, criticism, raising our voice, fighting to win arguments, justifications, can be seen as disrespectful and aggressive, risking an escalation of any conflict or tension. Often we become aggressive without realising how we are coming across to others – interrupting or raising our voice for example.
Flight behaviours could mean seeking to avoid conflict, and letting others dominate us or disrespect us as a result.
To ensure we stay assertive, and avoid aggressive, passive or passive aggressive behaviours, we need to stay cool, calm and confident. We need to believe in our rights, and our right to assert them, but also need to believe we have the skills to assert ourselves without being disrespectful or causing conflict.
The first step to managing our response is to be aware of our natural instincts. When faced with challenging situations, are you more likely to display aggressive (fight) behaviours, or passive (flight) behaviours?
Assertiveness vs aggressiveness
If you are more likely to demonstrate aggressive behaviours, try to understand your trigger issues. What gets you aggressive? Recognise these moments and actively try and control your emotions. Breathe. Give the other person a right to be wrong/stupid/disrespectful, try not to take it too personally, but then focus on how you can respond in a positive assertive manner.
Assertive vs passive or passive aggressive behaviour
If you are likely to demonstrate more passive behaviour, you need to believe in your ability to demonstrate assertive behaviours with being disrespectful or causing conflict. This can often be just an exercise in trying out new behaviours, getting out of your comfort zone and getting use to some new behaviours. Fake it till you make it. If you can discipline yourself to demonstrate some more assertive behaviours for a few weeks, you will feel more comfortable using them so they become the norm.