Where is the line between assertive and aggressive behavior, and can we measure assertiveness?

15. 02. 2023

What is healthy assertiveness, and how is it possible that a person can speak up in a private environment but in a work environment is more reticent, and vice versa? In an article published by HR news, Monika Nováková and Marta Fabiánová explain and reveal new developments in the field of assertiveness mapping. Now you can also read it on our blog.

Assertiveness is not just about loudly asserting opinions

Assertiveness is a fundamental communication skill. In our terms, it maps the fundamental areas of human communication and behavior. Many think of an assertive person as a predator who gets their way by asserting their views loudly at all costs. However, assertiveness encompasses a whole spectrum of sub-skills. And it is worth noting that for many people, it manifests primarily in silence.

What is assertiveness good for in a work environment?

An assertive person can assert themselves appropriately and stand by their decision or opinion without getting manipulated. We can benefit from this skill in both personal and work environments. When a supervisor asks too much of a staff member (even if they don’t realize it), assertiveness can help that employee speak up and avoid becoming overwhelmed. In negotiation with a client or partner, assertiveness helps one defend their position and not comply with unfavorable terms.

Developed assertiveness also manifests in skills such as giving and receiving feedback and building and developing social relationships. These are useful within a team, where assertiveness encourages effective collaboration, and when networking or making new work contacts. When it comes to conflict, assertive communication makes it easier for individuals to understand both points of view and ideally resolve the dispute by finding a mutually satisfactory outcome. Ultimately, it is not about a power struggle but about securing the best possible solution for all respectfully.

You can speak up among friends, but you’ll keep quiet at work?

Maybe we all feel it sometimes: we wear a different “mask” at work, which we take off at home or with friends. That does not necessarily amount to hypocrisy. Some people may find it more challenging to define themselves in their work environment, to express their feelings, or to politely refuse something, while at home and among friends, it is a normal thing (or vice versa). Personality, skills, acquired experience, and our so-called social role that quietly “whispers” how we should behave in a given position, as expected by society, are all significant factors here.

Mapping assertiveness with the Communication Style Questionnaire – Assertiveness

We can find out information about how assertive people are and how they communicate with the help of psychodiagnostic questionnaires we have developed in the TCC online workshop. Due to differences in how people behave in the workplace and general situations, we have developed two specific questionnaires which measure assertiveness specifically for the environment in which people find themselves.

If you are interested in knowing your level of assertiveness in different situations, we recommend the LIFE version. It is particularly suitable for personal development or coaching. However, if you are targeting a purely work environment, you will benefit more from our new WORK version.

In both questionnaires, you will also find out whether your assertiveness changes according to your relationships with people, both far and near. In the LIFE version, close people represent family and closest friends, while in the WORK version, they are your closest teammates.

Where is the line between assertive and aggressive behavior?

Assertiveness can sometimes be mistaken for aggression. However, these are completely different things. An assertive individual can define their demands clearly and understandably without treading upon the rights of others. They can listen, be respectful and at the same time consider other people’s feelings.

In contrast, the typical expression of aggression is a selfish assertion at the expense of others. Aggression in communication manifests itself in disrespect for other opinions, humiliation, or excessive sarcasm and irony. The Assertiveness Communication Style Questionnaire can detect these tendencies and highlight their possible manifestations, which can help prevent a hostile atmosphere or workplace bullying in your company.

Need some advice?

Pavla Kaňková

+420 771 297 711


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