Difference Between Assertive and Aggressive Behavior

There is a general tendency to assume that assertiveness and aggressiveness are synonyms of the same behavior pattern. Fact is, these behavioral concepts are totally opposite. My article will enlighten you about the difference between assertive behavior and aggressive behavior.
PsycholoGenie Staff
We come across different kinds of people and their personalities during our day-to-day interactions. There are people who have to argue out every case that comes across them without thinking over what they are saying. There is another personality where a person calmly and confidently puts forth one's point of view without being harsh. There is yet another trait where a person is aloof towards decision making and is submissive to other people's ideas. These behavior patterns set us thinking about the exact differentiation between them and ways to identify such personalities. Read on.
Assertive Behavior
The English word dictionary tends to describe an assertive behavior pattern as something where the person is always ready to argue over any case. The term assertiveness is also described as being self-assured and confidently aggressive. Point is assertive behavior includes politeness, firmness and confidence, but there is definitely no sign of aggression. An assertive person is often considered to have good communicating skills, thereby helping him in creating a good circle of contacts and relations. Assertive behavior can be explained in simple words - here the person pushes forth his take or opinion on a particular situation by keeping his voice calm and conversational. At the same time, the person will keep his composure throughout the communication process. Assertive persons are also keen listeners to other people's point of view. They value the freedom of personal tastes and choices. They will neither get influenced by others view unless these views are actually more rational, nor will they try to influence others into changing their minds.
Aggressive Behavior
Aggression is known to be stimulated by external factors and has a large-scale effect on the personality of a person. An aggressive person is often known to blurt out his views and opinions without considering what others feel about the whole situation. Such people are also known to impose their views forcibly on others, thereby violating individual freedom of choice and decision making. Aggressive behavior is often seen to be expressed through sudden anger bursts, mood swings, verbal threats, tantrums or through usage of social manipulation. As far as verbal outbursts are concerned, there is a repeated tendency to belittle others and their capacity for decision making. Such people use tactics to make others feel guilty without any mistake. Aggressive personalities have a tendency to dominate over others thereby straining their own social relations. Such people are also called autocratic personalities. Since historical times, such personalities have been seen in some prominent dictators around the world.
Identifying Assertive and Aggressive Personalities
Assertive Personality Aggressive Personality
An assertive person is positive about his opinions and behavior. At the same time, he respects other's thoughts and actions as well. He generally follows a 'Live and let live' policy in life. An aggressive person feels that only his opinions and actions matter while others are incapable in decision making.
An assertive person usually speaks out his honest views on a subject in a polite conversational tone. An aggressive person will talk loudly to make others listen to him. He usually has poor listening skills.
An assertive person aspires to reach his own aims and goals. At the same time, he makes sure that others are respected and encouraged to make similar progress. An aggressive person on the other hand, tries to achieve his goals and dreams by hurting others or by stepping on other people's self-esteem.
An assertive person tends to make a unhindered and normal eye contact with the other people. His eye expressions tend to be cool or pleasant. An aggressive person tends to glare at others in order to make them turn submissive to his statements and decisions.
An assertive person views everyone including himself on the same plane or on par. His approach is more of democratic way. An aggressive person puts himself before others and is ruthless by nature.
An assertive person has a straight posture without any slouching and his expressions are generally relaxed. Assertive way of communication is to speak to the point only. An aggressive person, on the other hand, tends to stand with crossed arms and a rigid posture. He may at times have threatening expressions on his face.

It is very difficult to tell an aggressive person to check the reflections of his behavior and opt for a change of personality. However, one can definitely start by learning to value opinions of others as well. Experts agree that assertiveness creates stronger human bonds and improves chances of personal and career success due to free flow of fresh ideas between two people. So, why not invest time to change your aggressive behavior into assertive behavior?