Saturday, May 1, 2021

Helping our patients to understand the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness

One question around emotional literacy that I often ask patients is this.....

What is the difference between being assertive versus being aggressive?

Assertiveness is a very very important skill in life but often, many will get the two mixed up. Without the skills of assertiveness, one will fall back onto the “fight or fight” responses, which then may create more conflict than the conflict we are trying to resolve.

Assertiveness has little or no blame and less judgements. There’s an acknowledgement and acceptance of what is IS, AND at the same time, very clear on values, needs and wants, and moving forward with that, AND at the same time accepting and respecting the other person’s position and boundaries. The underlying feelings with which one drives the actions are more neutral or ideally, more caring and compassionate, rather than anger, resentment, or punitive in nature. Assertiveness may trigger less defensiveness, resistance, and escalation from others.  It may sound more like this.....

“I can see where you are coming from, AND  at the same time, this is where I am coming from. How can we move forward with that?”

Without knowing the difference, it’s much harder to guide our patients and ourselves.

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