What does it mean to be assertive? What is the difference between being assertive or aggressive?

The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.

-Tony Robbins

In order to improve our relationships, we should constantly work on our communication skills.

Being assertive means explaining to someone else what is acceptable in your world, what is not acceptable and why. This is explained in a calm way without expressing emotion. 

In the opposite, being aggressive is expressing emotion and behaviours that are attacking in order to convey your message.

There are three parts to being an assertive communicator, and all three parts should be used, in order to be effective.

  1. Say to the person what you don’t want using ‘I’,

  2. Say to them how it is making you feel,

  3. Say to them what you do want, using the word ‘I’.

That’s just the basic rules. Here is a template that you might find useful:

“I would like you to listen to what I have to say and I would like you not to interrupt me. Thank you.

The facts as I perceive them are that … and the reason is that …, and for this I apologize.

I don’t want you to …

When you … it makes me feel …

I would like you to … Thank you.”

Why are a lot of people lacking in assertiveness? Many of us have particular beliefs causing us to be stuck in our heads. Or are stuck based on ideas such as ‘I am not as good as others’ or ‘I can’t be as confident as others’ or even worse ‘my feelings don’t matter’. Sometimes we might worry that people will stop liking us when we won’t please them, ‘I can’t say ‘no’ to people because I need to keep them happy.

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