The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well-being of others.
– Sharon Anthony Bower
From my primary blog here.
It’s a fine line, really. Every time we voice our opinions, it’s imperative that we can understand our own motivations. The data would be difficult to locate, but I suspect there maybe just as many people in the world that are too intrusive with their thoughts as there are those that are too timid. My hope is that we can, with a little examination, provide some insight to benefit both groups. With a proper application of assertiveness, I believe all of society stands to benefit.
What’s Mine is Mine
Assertiveness is simply the ability of a person to stand up for their beliefs and human rights… Respectfully. The ellipsis is intended to give the appropriate pause in that sentence. You see, aggressiveness is standing up for your beliefs and rights, as well. I believe that the greatest difference is the level of compassion you show those around you while you act. As in the quote above, I’m of the impression that this is a crucial detail which too many people overlook.
No matter the causation, assertiveness is not selfish; it’s never about taking from others because you want more. When you want more than what is fair and right for yourself, a line has been crossed and someone else’s rights are being compromised. Importantly, however, this is not to suggest what is fair would necessarily be equal between any two people. Any two people will require food, shelter, clothing, and the basic necessities of life. More to the point, they likely require them at a similar rate, as well. Still, someone who has made a greater contribution to society may reasonably be entitled to greater compensation where someone who has committed a greater offense against their fellow man likely merits a harsher penalty.
Practicing Assertiveness Everyday
The stronger message today is to those that struggle to express their voice. Many people spend the bulk of their lives being trampled over by more dominate personalities – despite often having better ideas to share. No matter who you are, you have value to society. Don’t let timidness keep you from benefiting the world about you. Likewise, don’t let your good nature and reservedness allow others to take advantage of you.
In the fantastic book The Republic, Plato states that those who would make the best rulers are also the least likely to seek power. It is this attribute—a sense of unworthiness and an awareness of the responsibility involved—that keeps a leader accountable and humble. Conversely, those that are the most inclined to leadership are often strong-willed, stubborn, and inflexible. Their volume overcomes their invalidity.
Being an introvert can be just as valuable as being an extrovert. In a similar sense, there is a great deal to be said for those with the sense and calm to listen more often than they speak. The danger is when you allow these positive traits to become excuses for others to destroy your happiness and opportunity. Assertiveness is about living in a way that is true to your values without infringing on the rights of others, and it’s about insisting on fairness in the presence of selfishness.
Thank you for your time.