Many people are concerned that if they assert themselves others will think of their behavior as aggressive. But there is a difference between being assertive and aggressive.
Assertive people state their opinions, while still being respectful of others. Aggressive people attack or ignore others' opinions in favor of their own. Passive people don't state their opinions at all.
The chart below gives some examples of the differences between passive, aggressive, and assertive behavior.
We have also provided a printer friendly version of this page. Print the Adobe PDF version, and use it to refer to as an aid to improving your assertiveness skills.
Differences Between Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Behavior. Passive Behavior (The Passive Person) -- Aggressive Behavior (The Aggressive Person) -- Assertive Behavior (The Assertive Person).
Passive Behavior: Is afraid to speak up
Aggressive Behavior: Interrupts and 'talks over' others
Assertive Behavior: Speaks openly
Passive Behavior: Speaks softly
Aggressive Behavior: Speaks loudly
Assertive Behavior: Uses a conversational tone
Passive Behavior: Avoids looking at people
Aggressive Behavior: Glares and stares at others
Assertive Behavior: Makes good eye contact
Passive Behavior: Shows little or no expression
Aggressive Behavior: Intimidates others with expressions
Assertive Behavior: Shows expressions that match the message
Passive Behavior: Slouches and withdraws
Aggressive Behavior: Stands rigidly, crosses arms, invades others' personal space
Assertive Behavior: Relaxes and adopts an open posture and expressions
Passive Behavior: Isolates self from groups
Aggressive Behavior: Controls groups
Assertive Behavior: Participates in groups
Passive Behavior: Agrees with others, despite feelings
Aggressive Behavior: Only considers own feelings, and/or demands of others
Assertive Behavior: Speaks to the point
Passive Behavior: Values self less than others
Aggressive Behavior: Values self more than others
Assertive Behavior: Values self equal to others
Passive Behavior: Hurts self to avoid hurting others
Aggressive Behavior: Hurts others to avoid being hurt
Assertive Behavior: Tries to hurt no one (including self)
Passive Behavior: Does not reach goals and may not know goals
Aggressive Behavior: Reaches goals but hurts others in the process
Assertive Behavior: Usually reaches goals without alienating others
Passive Behavior: You're okay, I'm not
Aggressive Behavior: I'm okay, you're not
Assertive Behavior: I'm okay, you're okay