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How to Be Assertive But Not Aggressive

by Karen Kleinschmidt, studioD

Assertive communication takes practice. Sometimes people who are passive behave in an aggressive manner in an attempt to be heard. But when you speak in an honest, non-threatening manner, others will develop a better understanding of where you are coming from.


When confronted with an issue you wish to change, assertive communication will increase your chances of being heard. But what if you are typically the person whose hot temper gets the best of her? Take a step back and think about how you are going to approach the issue. If it helps, write things down to organize your thoughts, according to the article, "Becoming Assertive, Not Aggressive," published on the University of West Virginia website. Use "I" statements to communicate your emotions.

Communication Skills

The first impression you give is often through body language. Following that, your tone of voice can encourage open communication. Develop an approachable, friendly stance. Once engaged in conversation, offer additional ideas to friends or colleagues with a positive demeanor. Ask direct questions in a friendly manner and support their ideas to encourage a sense of commitment.

Sensitivity to Others

Aggressive people dominate others, and those who interact with them walk on eggshells, wary of the next outburst. Consider the viewpoint of those around you. This is crucial to being assertive, according to Lynn Taylor, author of "How to Be Assertive, Not Aggressive," published on the Psychology Today website. Assertive people contain their reactions, says Taylor. They include the ideas and opinions of others.


Being assertive can help you gain the respect of others and develop honest relationships, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can cope in a positive way when things don't go as planned and celebrate when assertiveness pays off. Being assertive can also help you realize what works and what doesn't. Anger and aggressiveness can cloud your judgment, making it difficult to get a clear picture of your wants and needs. Communication and decision-making skills often improve as you become more assertive.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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