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A Comparison of Nonassertive, Assertive, and Aggressive Behavior



 

Nonassertive

Assertive

Aggressive

Characteristics of the Behavior:

 

Does not express wants, ideas, and feelings or expresses them in a self-depreciating way. Intent: to please

Expresses wants, ideas, and feelings in direct and appropriate ways Intent: to communicate

Expresses wants, ideas, and feelings at the expense of others Intent: to dominate or humiliate

Your Feelings When You Act This Way:

 

Anxious, disappointed with yourself. Often angry and resentful later

Confident, feel good about yourself at the time and later.

Self-righteous, superior. Sometimes embarrassed later.

Other People’s Feelings About Themselves When You Act This Way:

Guilty or superior Respected, Valued Humiliated, hurt Angry, vengeful

Other people’s Feelings Irritation, pity, disgust About You When You Act This Way:

Irritation, pity, disgust

Usually respect

 

 

 

Nonassertive

Assertive

Aggressive

Outcome

 

 

Avoids unpleasant situation, avoids conflict, tension, confrontation

Often get what you want

Often get what you want at the expense of others. Others feel justified at "getting even.

Payoff

 

 

 

 

Avoids unpleasant situation, avoids conflict, tension, confrontation

Feels good; respected by others. Improved self-confidence. Relationships are improved

Vents anger, feels superior.

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Source: This chart is a modification of the charts of Cheri May, Karen Coburn, and Joan Pearlman, unpublished chart, from Robert E. Alberti and Michael L. Emmins, Your Perfect Right;: A Guide to Assertive Behavior (San Luis Obispo, Ca: Impact, 1970), and from Patricia Jakubowski-Spector, "Facilitating the Growth of Women through Assertive Training," The Counseling Psychologist 4 (1973): 75-86.