Assertiveness vs Aggression

Updated: Sep 20, 2018


Amanda Stephens (left) and Beverly Bonasorte (right) of Tallahassee, FL. Shantrella Jones/ TPPB

Assertiveness vs. Aggression: There is a difference!


Some might look at this title and think what’s the difference? Well in business there is a difference, and it needs to be identified. According to www.Dictionary.com; Assertiveness is defined as confidently aggressive or self-assured; positive’; aggressive; dogmatic, whereas aggressiveness on www.Dictionary.com is defined as characterized by tending toward unprovoked offensive, attacks, invasions, or like militantly forward or menacing. After reading the definitions neither seem to be a compliment that anyone would want to receive while working, or in business, but I would beg to differ.


So, lets breakdown the what each word means in business.:


Assertiveness: In this case I would have to say that being looked at as being assertive should be a good thing. Why? Because most leaders or up and coming leaders want to be known as coming from a place of harmony. Someone that is assertive normally means that they want everyone’s needs and wants to be met, but they want to be straight-forward when speaking and have every intention on ensuring that all parties involved have a favorable outcome. For instance, most assertive people state their opinions while still being respectful, and professional.


Aggression: Tends to come from a place of power and control. For example, aggressive people are inclined to ignore others, and are normally out for their own “come up.” An aggressive person normally needs to be handled directly and calmly. And let’s not forget that they normally need an assertive person to assist in handling this type of person.

Below you will find some tips on how to identify the difference as well as how to make it work in the workplace.


Assertive People:

  • Are Harmonious: Most assertive people tend to come from a place of harmony and have every intention on making sure that everyone’s needs are met.

  • They Listen Actively: An assertive person tends to listen with the intent of understanding, not with the intent to reply.

  • They Are Patient: They tend to understand the necessity of being calm and weathering the storm when it’s needed. When associates, colleagues, or upper leadership test your patients or even “stab you in the back,” patients is key.

  • They Respect Others: They respect other’s feelings, needs, wants, beliefs or opinions.


Aggressive People:

  • Come from a Place of Power and Control: They utilize the power they have, no matter how little to control those that are less aggressive then them, or…

  • They use Intimidation: as a factor. FEAR is necessary for them to survive in a working environment, and they thrive from this tactic…because when FEAR is induced you tend to b e unable to react in stressful situations, or in any situation.

  • They take over: conversations: In normal conversation they tend to hijack the conversation. They want to be the center of attention and they never ask questions for understanding.


My biggest tip to you when identifying these types of people would be when you first meet these type of people pay attention to the first conversation, pay attention to body language when conversing with these type of people, you will then be fully able to identify what type of person your dealing with. Good Luck!

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