Are you being Assertive or Aggressive?

Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I could be more assertive” or have you been told you should be more assertive?

Take this quick quiz to get to know yourself and how assertive you are.

How Assertive Are You?

How assertive are you?
Do you look people straight in the eye when you talk to them?
Do you speak clearly and address the situation directly?
Do you speak with confidence or mumble and stumble over your words?
Do you stand/sit up straight or slouch?
Are you confident in asking questions when you need clarification?
Are you comfortable being around others?
Are you able to say no when you don’t want to do something?
Are you able to express your feelings appropriately?
Do you offer your opinion when you disagree with something or someone?
Do you defend yourself when blamed for something that wasn’t your fault?

If you answered “No”, to the majority of the questions you might be having difficulty being assertive.
Now you could be asking yourself, exactly what does it mean to be assertive. According to Psychology Today, assertiveness is a social skill that relies heavily on effective communication, therefore it’s something one can learn and become better at by learning effective communication skills while simultaneously respecting the thoughts and wishes of others. People who are assertive clearly and respectfully communicate their wants, needs, positions and boundaries to others. There’s no question of where they stand, no matter what the topic. Individuals who are high in assertiveness don’t shy away from defending their points of view or goals, or from trying to influence others to see their side. They are open to both compliments and constructive criticism. People can improve their assertiveness through practical exercises and experience.

Many people don’t understand what assertiveness truly is. They think it is only about putting their opinions forward and speaking up. Assertiveness is actually an interplay between how we communicate and how we treat the other person in the conversation. The I’m Ok, You’re Ok model created by Thomas Anthony Harris, brings this balance to life:

I'm OK You're OK Model


I’m ok means I respect myself and feel confident to put forward my thoughts and opinions. I’m not ok means I don’t feel able to express myself or my ideas. You’re ok means I respect you, I am interested in your perspective and want to hear it. You’re not ok means I’m not respecting you and don’t value your idea.

Assertiveness helps with employee wellness and mental health because it is all about respecting yourself. It’s a form of self-care, in that it involves being clear about what you need and communicating your needs and feelings to others.

Remember, if you feel that you are not as assertive as you would like to be, these are skills that can be learned.

Take look at our infographic to see the difference between being assertive and aggressive.If you feel like you could benefit from working to improve your assertiveness skills, reach out to an AskNelson counsellor

Improve your Communication Skills
Assertiveness vs Agressiveness
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