There are a lot of people that don’t know the difference between aggression and assertion. Basically, you already know what aggression is. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as, “a forceful action or procedure (as an unprovoked attack) especially when intended to dominate or master.” Aggression is a basic behavior in all creatures when they are confronted with a threatening condition, giving them the fight-or-flight response. People tend to use aggression when faced with confrontations, handling the situation in one of two ways. First, they may take the stance of fighting for what they want, bullying the other person into giving up. But if the confrontation is more than they can handle, they will flee the situation without any resolution to the problem. Aggression is not an effective method of communication in any relationship.
Assertion, on the other hand, is something that is stated in a positive manner. Assertive people are confident and respectful of other people as well as themselves. They ask directly for what they want without feeling embarrassed, inadequate, or being apologetic. If they don’t get what they want, their self-esteem does not suffer. A lot of people do not act assertive because they fear that they will be seen as aggressive. However, if you learn to use assertion properly in communication, you can get what you want without confrontation or making the other person feel threatened.
If you go through life with passive behavior, being neither assertive nor aggressive, you will get nowhere. By remaining quiet and not asking for what you want, you allow others to determine your life’s path. When others run our lives for us, we lose contact with our own self-worth, taking away any determination to improve. By using assertion in communicating with others, you can change another person’s behavior toward you. Compromise in confrontations is part of being assertive, and in showing respect for the other person you are better able to resolve the situation.
There are times when the other person is aggressive toward you, expressing anger that quite often incites conflict. However, you have to remember that anger solves nothing. Remain calm and don’t rise to the bait. Communicate in an unemotional way, being direct and clearly stating your needs. You have to remain open-minded and tolerant. Always respect the other person’s views, and realize that their values and experiences may be different than yours.
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