What is the difference between being assertive and agressive?

The difference is very subtle.
I'm shy and I try to be less shy. Sometimes when I try to be assertive I think I might come across as slightly commanding.
When is a person a good leader, without coming across as controlling/bossy?

Do you have any examples? :)


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Most Helpful Girl

  • Assertive: You can state your objectives or expectations and a pretty good idea of how to get to them. Good reasoning that appeals to the majority of peoples. You keep your head when confronted and are able to, for the most part, talk things out or compromise if need be.

    Aggressive: You have goals and expectations you want to reach and you force other people to abide by your rules or reasonings, sometimes without being able to explain why. You're not that interested in making sure people are even interested in your goals, but you're gonna make them do what you want regardless of their own feelings and ideas.

    I think the keyword that differentiates the two is "force" and how unwelcome that force is. Assertive people don't really need to force things, whereas aggressive people cross the line, and there's usually lots of unwanted forcing going on.

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Most Helpful Guy

  • Assertive is standing your ground, aggressive is being invasive.

    Socially the best way to explain these differences would probably be conversation in which two parties disagree.

    Assertive: Will disagree, may state the reason as to why they disagree, may even accept that they are wrong if they are wrong and learn from the experience. When pushed and they know that they are right, they will not back down and will do their best to educate the other.

    Aggressive: Will always dominate the conversation, will always be "right". Gets very defensive when made to be wrong; very hostile. Not prone to learning from teaching situations.

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What Girls Said 6

  • Assertive = standing up for YOURSELF / representing YOURSELF well

    Aggressive = trying to subdue OTHERS / engaging OTHERS in power games

    Two completely different things. Assertive is about YOU. Aggressive is about everyone else.

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    • 1mo

      Some further thoughts:

      1)
      So far, everything written on this thread -- including, I'll admit, my own response -- seems to imply that "assertive" is ALWAYS good, and that "aggressive" is ALWAYS bad.
      This isn't true.

      Assertiveness is a positive trait in MOST situations... and aggression is unnecessary in MOST situations... but, neither of these is *always* true.
      In a situation where GROUP BONDING is of the essence, being excessively "assertive" can be a bad thing.
      For instance, if you're attending a wedding with 300 other people and you have three rare food allergies... you should probably just keep quiet, nosh on some food beforehand, and then eat what you can (if anything) at the wedding. (:

      Also, aggression isn't USUALLY necessary... but sometimes it is. Bullies, for instance, rarely learn from anything other than a good hard no-nonsense ass-kicking. (Even then, they really just "learn" fear, rather than actual morals... but, that's good enough for the moment.)

      2)
      These concepts

    • Show All
    • 1mo

      Wow thanks for your very detailed answer xD
      Makes things really clear

  • Like you said, it's subtle but obvious when one has crossed the line. I'll compare team leaders at work. The one last year was assertive, sometimes rude, but I wouldn't call her aggressive. The one now is aggressive, sometimes rude, and I wouldn't call her assertive. She checks on us more and demands we do certain things... I mean also she has no idea wtf she's asking us to do bc it's against company protocol but whatever, whatever.

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  • Assertive... is talking with self confidence in your speech or confidence with those you converse with. And aggressive... is talking with hostile intent or beligerent behavior towards someone you're speaking with.

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  • Honestly, it all boils down to just doing what works for you. Because you may think your being assertive and someone may see it as you being aggressive. You can't please everybody. So why bother. Do what works best for you.

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  • Assertive means being open about your needs. Aggressive means not caring about others' needs.

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  • Assertive: "You seem cool - want to grab dinner sometime soon so we can get to know each other?"

    Yes/No: "Hey that's cool."

    Aggressive: "Let's do these shots! Do you swallow? I bet you do, dirty girl."
    No: "Dyke."

    Passive Aggressive: "I bet a chick like you thinks she's too good to go out with me."
    No: (to self): Women are such entitled bitches."

    Creepy: "Hey, I saw on your Facebook that you checked into the Olive Garden three times this year. I'd take you there. I can pick you up, I know where you live."
    No: "likes" a photo from 5 years ago later that night

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What Guys Said 23

  • For me, being assertive is an outcomes based objective, so one would display assertiveness as more of a reactive process to achieve a predefined outcome, like going to work even when others are striking because your family's dinner this evening is more important than an empirical argument over status.
    Aggression is the emotional release of built up and unresolved anger, resentment, etc, in general or regarding a specific issue, so by not telling the person in the cubicle next to you that it bothers you when they tap their pen on the divider and you simply keep "letting it go" until that one day that you explode, rip the pen out of their hand and start stabbing them in the neck with it.

    Being a good leader means to help the needs of the director meet the capabilities of the staff. A leader's job is to guide the efforts of the workforce towards the predetermined goal of the collective, most suitably pairing the abilities of each person involved with the problems faced

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  • Assertive: Believing in and sticking up for yourself. Not yielding to every little naysayer. Quite, calm and even headed self assurance.

    Aggressive: Trying to force your will, opinions etc on others through insecurity. Tempestuous, capricious and unreasonable.

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  • Assertive is to assert yourself to make known your ideas or thoughts, aggression usually pertains to violence or a posture of combativeness.

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  • No, it is not subtle.. Being assertive s standing up for yourself, believing in a cause whether others do or not. Being aggressive is assuming control, the open minded way of thinking is out and this is the way things ARE GOING TO BE! Big difference I think..

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  • Leaders are right. They find solutions to problems that's best for everyone whether it comes from themselves or their followers. They know when to lead and when to follow. They know who to empower to accomplish a goal or task, and to do that, they have knowledge of the tasks at hand. Assertiveness is essentially voicing or doing what you think or should be done, typically around other people, NOT necessarily in defiance, you're decisive. Aggressive means being forward, active, and even interventional in your approach in accomplishing what you want, as opposed to passive and rather manipulative. A leader is adept at knowing when to use either. To a leader, neither term has an inherent good or bad connotation, they're tools at their disposal.

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  • As others have said, being assertive is showing confidence whereas being aggressive is showing hostility. Big difference.

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  • Being assertive is like if you say no, you mean no if someone asks you something. Being aggressive is more like taking what you want and/or being hostile towards someone

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    • 1mo

      People have told me to be more assertive, but I'm afraid I might cross the line. Is it just going after what you want in a nice/peaceful way?

    • 1mo

      You can be assertive without being aggressive or a douche

  • i gues assertive means you want something and you have rules that you live by and you rarely if ever break them , you dont have to be violent just live by a set of rules...

    as for being violent , its using violence to solve anything that takes a little effort or some thinking.

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  • Assertive - the action
    Aggressive - the intensity

    If I look you in the eye and shake your hand, when saying hello that is assertive.
    If I stare you down and squeeze your hand with a powerful grip as I shake your hand that is aggressive.

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    • 1mo

      Aggression isn't bad. There's just a line where it is too much. Often times being direct (assertive) is coupled with intensity (aggression), but it doesn't have to. If you don't have enough intensity however, then you lose some of the respect.

  • Well the truth is 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. Rather than valuing yourself less than another person (passive) or valuing yourself more than another person (aggressive), assertiveness means you value yourself equal to others. For example, in negotiations an assertive person knows that they are looking for a fair exchange of value on all sides.

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  • I'd not say it's subtle. Being assertive is knowing what you want and how to be the least rude in explaining it. Being aggressive is not giving a damn.

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  • To be assertive you need to empathize with people you are behaving towards. You can gain the ability of complaining or encouraging somebody to change their attitude in an assertive way, but you need to think about they would feel after the action you are going to perform with them.

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  • Assertive is being respectful when trying to get what you want. Aggressive is more of walking over people without regards to their feelings.

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  • Aggressiveness is the drive that puts assertiveness from theory into practical application.

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  • A good leader will only ask his followers to do what's necessary. As soon as a leader becomes frivolous, he becomes a dictator.

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  • Assertive is more standing up for yourself aggressive is more imposing

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  • Assertive is standing up your beliefs. Aggressive is forcing your beliefs onto others.

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  • Assertive: having or showing a confident and forceful personality.
    Aggressive: ready or likely to attack or confront

    Always be assertive, only use aggression when threatened or harmed.
    Never instigate. Only self defense.

    Forever vigilant.

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  • I know what's the opposite of both of them... me! lol

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  • They're synonyms.

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  • Being assertive is for cowards, being agressive is for braves.. 😎

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    • 1mo

      Being aggressive is for fools, fuckboys, and mangina push-overs.
      Being assertive is for heroes and men with REAL balls of steel.

  • Ex: ME

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  • That's why times like this I hate being born a guy

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