Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Passive, Assertive, and Aggressive


I frequently work with clients, both kids and adults, on the theme of passive, assertive and aggressive.This is an easy way to calibrate behavior in tricky situations, and a good way to interpret the behavior of others.


My desktop dictionary defines passive as “accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.” Assertive is “having or showing a confident and forceful personality,” and aggressive is “ready or likely to attack or confront.” I like to think of these three words as defining a continuum, with the passive end considering only the needs and desires of others, and the aggressive end as defending one’s own rights solely, at the expense of others. Assertive fits neatly in the middle, standing up for oneself while still considering others.

In most situations, it pays to lean in the direction of assertive behavior. Speak up for yourself, ask for what you want, object to the things you don’t want.