One of the biggest confusions which rest in most peoples’ minds is that they can not understand the fine line of difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. According to my experience, assertiveness comes from supreme self-confidence, knowledge about the subject and overall ...One of the biggest confusions which rest in most peoples’ minds is that they can not understand the fine line of difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. According to my experience, assertiveness comes from supreme self-confidence, knowledge about the subject and overall self-reliance. On the contrary, aggressiveness is a reverse mechanism which comes upfront when a person is being defensive. It is to be appreciated that the essential difference between being assertive and aggressive is the kind of effect our words and behavior would have on the individuality and psyche of others. This reminds me of an incident where I was present during an interview session for a trainee salesman of a cosmetic company marketing herbal products. When asked about how much the person knew about Aloe Vera, one of the key ingredients used in the company’s products – the person replied fairly correctly but his body language, eye contact and the choice of words hinged on being more aggressive than assertive. His knowledge was so great about Aloe Vera that he nearly started to criticize the company’s products and started to sound most intimidating. As is expected he never got the job, though he had answered every question correctly.
Similarly, a man who was being pursued by a pretty woman was not quite interested in falling in line with this damsel in hot pursuit, for whatever reason. It was a nearly pathetic sight as the man just could not bring himself to say a simple and assertive ‘NO’ which could have saved him from wasting many evenings which he always repented about later. The power of saying a firm and assertive ‘no’ can save you from many irrelevant and unnecessary people and situations in life. But remember, there is no reason to get aggressive and put the other person in any embarrassment. You could always be polite and yet be assertive. The vice versa could also be true. Like Eleanor Roosevelt, American columnist, lecturer and humanitarian, once said: Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn't have the power to say yes. You would have noticed that most people get aggressive when all they want is to prove a point. Such people are usually victims of insecurity, inflated ego, confusion, purposelessness, anxiety and several other mental anomalies. Yet, controlling all these inner conflicts can be corrected easily, provided you have adequate will and realize the importance of self-confidence and assertiveness in life.
Self-confidence is not an empty word – knowledge, experience, expertise, wisdom and foresight are at its root. Only when you develop these qualities and attributes in you, can you be assertive. You need to make your mind strong enough not to get it manipulated by weaklings in our society, who thrive on stronger people and behave like parasites taking strength and stamina from the host. Assertiveness can bring you success, happiness and contentment. Knowing to stand by your beliefs is sometimes called fanaticism and stubbornness. But a personal belief, which is formed on fair and just grounds can never be called fanaticism or obstinacy.
Assertiveness plays a strong role when you are fighting for a cause. Be it for your own promotion, suggesting a new strategy to your company, making a sales presentation to customers, giving a lecture on any topic which you are an expert on, or whatever. In all these situations, where you want to make your audience believe you and follow your recommended action steps, your assertive skills would make things happen your way. Assertiveness is not just limited to making confident and well-written speeches. It comes from an innate sense of confidence and enthusiasm which you emanate, from your gait and postures, from your body language and capability of maintaining relevant eye contact. When a person fidgets, plays with a pen, drums his fingers on the table, has shifty eyes, constantly shifts in his chair, walks up and down before a presentation, he is far from being assertive, though he may give the best of speeches.
Being assertive means many things to many people. Most people believe it is the power to say no at the right time to the right person, having strategic skills to make a situation turn to his favor, making a point most effectively and convincingly, but I believe assertiveness is mastering the art of making a point without hurting any sentiment whatsoever. You can do this when you have supreme level of self-confidence and know what you are talking better than anyone else in the room.
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