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Know the difference between assertiveness, passivity and aggression

The difference between assertiveness, passivity and aggression.
A personal assistant telling them employer they are in charge
© University of East Anglia

Being assertive means standing up for your rights, and expressing your thoughts and feelings in a calm and honest way – while respecting other people’s thoughts and feelings.

Assertive people can communicate without upsetting others or upsetting themselves. Assertive people listen to others and respond appropriately. Assertive people accept their responsibilities. Assertive people appreciate others for their work.

Being passive means complying with the wishes of others. Often this is because people want to be liked by others. Being passive means always saying yes to other people’s requests. Being passive means not communicating what you really think or want. Being passive means letting others take responsibility or make decisions. Passive behaviour can reduce feelings of self-worth.

Being aggressive means not considering other people’s views or feelings. This may take the form of ignoring people, rushing them, bossing them or disagreeing with them. Aggressive people rarely show appreciation for others. Aggressive responses encourage others to respond either aggressively or passively themselves.

© University of East Anglia
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