This week I’ve been laboring on about how women are viewed in our society. Consciously or subconsciously, we meet a woman and often label her, decide whether or not we like her, put her into a category. How do we identify what triggers these thoughts, feelings and emotions? By figuring that out, we can only then figure out how to not to that.

What is assertive?

What is aggressive?

These words came up often the past few days. We use them as positives, and we also use them as negatives. I bet if you ask five people, each one will have a different interpretation of these words.

Let’s cut to the dictionary (Oxford):

Assertive: having or showing a confident and forceful personality

Aggressive: ready or likely to attack or confront

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say the difference between these words is tone. One word is clearly more forthright than the other. I understand why in normal life, aggressive might not be the way to go. Sometimes….I’ll add, because maybe I don’t want to be physically aggressive, but aggressive with words? I think there is a time and a place for that…(and now that I think about it, I would rather my daughter have the ability to speak aggressively when she needs to- so aggressive leans over the line towards good quality for me)

Now, about assertive.

Why are there problems with assertive?

If we look at the definition, assertive is confident and forceful.

What’s wrong with confident and forceful?

Do we reserve our issues with women who are confident and forceful, or are these  equal opportunity adjectives?

When you say a woman is assertive, is it a good thing or a bad thing? What about a man?

When you think assertive and aggressive, what comes to mind? This is a case of examples helping clarify a definition, so think of maybe a character in a movie or book or TV show.  Elizabeth Bennett is clearly assertive, even in a time and place where she really wasn’t supposed to be. I’d say, you could even call her aggressive in certain scenes.

I think we know she is my favorite character in literature.

So, think about characters that exhibit aggressive or assertive traits. Do you like them, admire them? Respect them? Hate them?



39 thoughts on “Dodici- Assertive v Aggressive

  1. Both are necessary, especially for women.
    Not only is the patriarchy against women, but women are against each other.
    In all honesty, I don’t believe either of these are ‘bad’ words, or traits for that matter, it’s all in the perception.
    There’s this concept that women are meant to be compliant. Even to each other. So standing up for one’s self, or the selves of ones who cannot, is looked badly upon.
    I’m with you, I’d rather my girls be assertive, and aggressive when need be.
    If you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We should all strive to be assertive, as this is the healthiest way of functioning.
    Assertiveness leads to good physical and mental health.
    Assertiveness means stating our needs and our wants clearly, without trampling on the needs and wants of others. Assertiveness and diplomacy are definitely linked.
    Assertiveness is honest communication.
    Jesus said : Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.
    Most people need training to become assertive.
    Assertiveness is learned behaviour; everyone would benefit from an assertiveness training course. 🤗

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Assertiveness is good. It gets the job done without being cruel. Sometimes I think aggressiveness is from lack of confidence and some people think that is how to get the job done. Kind of a warped interpretation of assertiveness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The more I think about it, the more I think you need aggressiveness in your tool box. You don’t have to use it often, but it needs to be there. There are still some women afraid to say no because they don’t want to be thought of as aggressive….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Could be. It may depend on the person. I’m never afraid to say no because of not wanting to be aggressive, Back when I was working I was only afraid to say no because of repercussions. Such as, no I’m not working a 16 hour shift….the repercussion would be getting put on night shift for a week or two after saying no. So the aggression was from the manager to get the hours filled at the workers and patients expense. When I became charge or house supervisor I refused to do that to people. I tried to be assertive and rewarding, if you work this I can let you leave early on Friday.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s much to do with why we’re doing it. I think there are times we need to stand up for ourselves any way we can. The problem is if it’s the only thing you ever do

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In my experience, people who are threatened by assertiveness label it as aggressive. I am definitely an assertive person and it seems those who “like” me see it that way and those who don’t like me see it differently. These are just my observations.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that’s a valid point. That’s the whole thing with labeling and I asked people why they thought a certain thing. If you understand why something irks you, you can move on


  5. It’s interesting, but the term aggressive is used much more often (from what I read) than the term assertive. Of course, perhaps I’m simply looking at it from a sporting perspective, where aggressive is seen as a positive thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. First reaction to the word aggressive is threatening, however that’s not necessarily correct. Aggressive can also be a move forward, get things done, no nonsense attitude. Example: In charge of a project and the means to accomplish it aren’t really open to opinion, then you aggressively state the intent and move the team ahead.
    If a male does this perhaps he’s labeled as decisive or a strong leader. If a female does this perhaps she’s labeled as bitchy or inflexible.


    1. That’s why I don’t want to throw this word out when speaking about confidence. Sometimes you need to hold the line. The thing is, it can’t always be your go to approach because then it becomes meaningless


    2. That’s sad that has been your experience that the female is labeled as bitchy or inflexible. Fortunately my experience or impression with aggressively assertive women has been inspiring to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I am pondering if being assertive for women is a generational thing. Certainly my grandmother and mother were not assertive or at least not outwardly. However my grandfather and Dad certainly knew their wives opinions so I am sure they did get their message across.
    However in regards to outside the home I think they could have been stronger at voicing their opinions especially as I remember my Mom who wasn’t as assertive on her health care as I think she should have and now she is gone.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I was surprised that definition of the word assertive contained the word forceful. That isn’t how I think of it.

    Commenter Sallyball talked about assertiveness training at the recommendation of a therapist. I did this many years ago based on the book “Your Perfect Right” At that point in my life it was eye opening. It taught me that I could say no, and how to say it. It taught me how to express needs/requests, and not to let myself be steamrolled by others. I no longer have the book, but I am tempted to buy it again- I could use a refresher.

    I’m not sure where things cross into assertive from aggressive. As a nurse I have dealt with family members who express their frustrations with threatening body language, shouting, threatening lawsuits etc. Dealing with difficult situations and people is part of the job. I think though is there is a certain point where one has crossed the line into aggressiveness where the recipient of your message will just shut down.

    Sports analogies can get tiresome. It seems to me though that for some sports one has to be continually straddling the line of what is/is not acceptable in order to be a competitive player. It certainly seems that one needed to be willing to play dirty. My son played high school basketball for a couple of years and I was truly astounded at where that line really was. The players were more physically aggressive in basketball than in football it almost seemed–without any pads or helmets.

    I tend to think of people in real life who are aggressive as ones who are crossing a line, just as in sports. Are we willing to play dirty?
    We all have different ideas in our heads of what these concepts really mean–so different ideas of whether they are good or bad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the way we all interpret things differently. Your perspective on how things evolve into aggressive is good. And I can’t help but think passive aggressive…which might not be physically threatening, but it’s definitely emotional blackmail…. dry insightful comments. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I wouldn’t think of assertiveness as forceful; I would rather think of assertiveness as a personality trait where one is considerate and confident at the same point of time while aggressiveness, I opine, is being negatively forceful and stems from a sense of rudeness.
    Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favourite characters too! Head-strong and standing up for herself!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like your series of posts exploring the concept of confidence, assertiveness, and aggressiveness. (Catching up today) I do find it odd that men sometimes perceive assertiveness in women to be aggressiveness. And being aggressive is usually considered to be a bad trait. I think that in the real world, and in the world of characters and stories, we like people to be strong. And I would use the word “direct.” I admire people, and fictitious characters, who are direct in their approach. I always know where I stand with these folks and never have to guess. What I dislike is that passive-aggressive behavior, designed to be coercive. That being said, however, in the context of a good book, a variety of characters and personalities can blossom into a wonderful story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m loving these posts LA! And reading the comments…for me, I like the term assertive more than aggressive because aggressive makes me think of force even though I know assertive’s definition is forceful, right? It’s the attacking piece in aggressive that turns me off. I don’t like to be attacked, ever. And I don’t see me as being aggressive unless it was to defend my kids in a situation that had the potential to harm them physically. Hmmmm….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For me, there’s a clear line between assertiveness & aggression – in both men & women. For me aggression is – at the very least – threatening & in your face, whereas assertiveness is about standing one’s ground, quietly & calmly. Nevertheless, it’s a fine line to tread when you try to learn how to be assertive, as many tip into aggression.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yeah I too believe that there should be a line between assertiveness and aggressiveness ..😊👍🏻recently I too did a post on assertiveness but I didn’t give much importance for aggressiveness.. know I think I should have added it😇


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