individual stands up for his or her legitimate rights in such a way that the rights of others are not violated,
he or she is being assertive. Assertiveness involves recognizing one’s right to let others know how their
behavior affects you and asking them to change that behavior. By behaving assertively, you open the way
for honest communication with others and for the possibilities of negotiation and compromise.
Assertiveness is an interpersonal communication skill that can be learned and practiced in an ongoing
How Does Assertive Behavior Differ from Passive Behavior or
Passive behavior may result in a person's rights being violated. The passivity may consist of hesitant
speech, and avoidance of eye contact. Passive behavior usually reflects the underlying belief that one’s
feelings aren’t important, or that one is too weak (or too afraid of being strong) to act on those feelings.
Aggressive behavior is interpersonal behavior in which a person stands up for his or her rights but in a
way that violates the rights of others. The aggressive person may appear tense and angry and may connote
an air of superiority. Aggressive behavior typically is experienced by the other person as humiliating,
dominating or controlling. Unfortunately, aggressive behavior blocks the individual from enjoying
supportive relationships with others.
What are the Benefits of Behaving Assertively?
To be assertive, you must first become aware of your own needs. In a situation where your needs are
being violated, you can then express your needs in a direct and non-aggressive way. The other person may have had no intention of violating your needs, and may graciously make a change that makes both of you
feel better. If you appropriately express a wish NOT to do what