In counseling, one of the key things around assertive training is to define what assertiveness actually is. Many of the patients we see often mistaken aggressiveness for assertiveness.
So how can we tell the difference?
It’s not just about the action but more about the quality of those actions as well.
The “action” of assertiveness and aggressiveness may look very similar but the quality or “feeling” behind it is very different.
The feeling behind assertiveness is often one of kindness, compassion, good faith or at least, “neutral emotionally”.
The feeling behind aggressiveness is often one of blame, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, contempt, punitiveness or resentment.
When one walks away with “assertiveness”, one feels more at a level of acceptance or peace.
When one walks away with “aggressiveness”, one feels more at the level of frustration, anger or uneasiness.
Knowing the difference may help one steer towards assertiveness rather than falling into the escalation trap of aggressiveness.