Are you Passive, Aggressive, or Assertive?

PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE: “Where’s your sweater? You’re going to freeze.”

AGGRESSIVE: “You say you aren’t cold, but you’re wrong. Put on the sweater.”

ASSERTIVE: “I know you can take care of yourself. If you’d like a sweater, there is one in the closet.”

PASSIVE: [Takes a sweater, regardless of temperature. Sweats regretfully].

How many of you see yourselves (or your mothers...or your coworkers) in the above? Can you feel yourself emotionally respond to each one?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s not about the sweater.

It’s about how you well you understand, respect, and influence others to clearly communicate a specific need, want, or objective.

‘Tis the season for a flurry of communication styles, which is why this week I’m giving you the gift of assertive communication tips that you can use at work, at home, and in everyday situations. Speaking and behaving assertively has many benefits, from creating win-win situations to improving stress levels, self-esteem, decision-making skills, and relationships.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can effectively communicate with others in a way that can be warmly received—no matter how many layers you have on.




Practice using assertive communication in your conversations today. Here are a few examples to get you going.

  • The “Thanks, But” Statement
    “Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t make that a priority right now. Have you thought of… ?”

  • The “Thanks, And” Statement
    “I appreciate your opinion, and I hope you offer it again next time.”

  • The Cut The Crap Statement
    “I disagree with you. I see it like this.”

  • The Policy Statement
    “It’s my policy to [enter a core belief here].”

  • The “No” Statement
    “No.” (The shortest one is sometimes the hardest—and the best—one to practice!)

Remember, being an assertive communicator is more than just about what language you use, it’s also in how actively you listen, how calmly you respond, and how well you respect and manage your feelings, needs, and wants.

Be respectful. Be clear. Be true to yourself. And you’ll be heard.


If you want to make changes to your communication style, you have to understand how you typically communicate and then adjust from there. This week, evaluate your conversations by asking yourself the following:

  • How often do you leave a meeting wishing you had spoken up? How often do you regret that you did?

  • How often do you interrupt? How often are you interrupted?

  • Are you quick to judge or place blame?

  • Are you quick to take responsibility—even when it’s not your fault?

  • Do you say yes when you really should say no?

  • Are you comfortable making eye contact?

  • What happens when someone disagrees with you?

  • How often do you voice your opinions and feelings? How well do you listen to those of others?

Want more?

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