What is the difference between assertive vs aggressive people? Most people think of narcissists as overly-confident and overly-assertive. In fact, the opposite is true, not only are they not assertive, they could actually benefit from learning assertiveness skills. While you may think this is the last thing a narcissist needs to learn, most people do not have a true understanding of what assertiveness is.
It is not forcing your opinion on others, making others do as you wish or putting your own needs and desires above others. Dr. Hawkins explains what healthy assertiveness is and why everyone, especially those who tend to be passive, passive-aggressive, or aggressive, can benefit from learning healthy assertiveness skills.
What is the Difference Between Assertive vs Aggressive People?
Understanding the Nuances of Assertiveness and Its Importance
When it comes to discussing narcissism and assertiveness, it’s not uncommon to encounter a fair bit of skepticism. After all, narcissists are often perceived as dominant, overpowering, and even aggressive individuals. So, why on earth would someone with such dominating tendencies need assertiveness skills? In this article, we’ll delve into this intriguing topic and unravel the key distinctions between assertive and aggressive behavior.
Assertiveness ≠ Aggression: Defining the Terms
The first point to clarify is that assertiveness is fundamentally different from aggression. While it might be tempting to equate the two, they exist at opposite ends of the behavioral spectrum.
Assertiveness involves expressing one’s thoughts, needs, and desires in a respectful and considerate manner. It is about finding a balance in interpersonal interactions and listening empathically to others. Importantly, assertive individuals respect and celebrate the individuality of both themselves and others. They engage in open communication, valuing diverse perspectives, and seek mutual understanding.
Aggression, on the other hand, is forceful, demanding, and dominating. It often involves overpowering others, coercing them to comply, and is generally characterized by a lack of respect for individual boundaries. Aggressive behavior can be harmful, unethical, and damaging to relationships.
The Essence of Assertiveness: Mutual Respect and Balancing Power
Assertiveness, as we’ve established, centers around mutual respect and balancing power dynamics in interpersonal relationships. It entails embracing the individuality of both parties involved, celebrating their unique thoughts, feelings, and desires, and fostering an environment of mutual understanding and empathy.
In an assertive interaction, neither party seeks to dominate or shrink into invisibility. Instead, there’s a harmonious give and take, a recognition of the validity of each person’s perspective, and a shared celebration of individuality. This approach requires practice and a willingness to nurture a relationship based on respect and empathy.
The Art of Assertiveness: A Skill Requiring Ongoing Development
Assertiveness is not something one is born with; it’s a skill that requires constant refinement and practice. Given our social conditioning, many of us have been habitually passive or, in some cases, aggressive in our interactions. Thus, adopting assertiveness can be a challenging but rewarding journey.
Threading the needle between passivity, aggression, and assertiveness necessitates self-awareness, patience, and a commitment to mutual respect. It means learning when to pause, listen, and empathize instead of forcing one’s opinions. It means fostering an atmosphere of mutual care and compassion in relationships.
Why Do Narcissists Need Assertiveness Skills?
Returning to the initial question of whether narcissists need assertiveness skills, the answer is unequivocally yes. Narcissists, despite their dominating tendencies, can benefit from learning the art of assertiveness. It can help them shift from aggressive behavior to a more respectful and balanced approach in their interactions with others.
By embracing assertiveness, narcissists can gain a deeper understanding of the importance of mutual respect, empathy, and celebrating individuality. They can learn to listen, compromise, and foster healthier, more fulfilling relationships.
In conclusion, the difference between assertive vs aggressive people lies in their approach to interpersonal dynamics. Assertiveness promotes mutual respect, while aggression seeks to overpower. Recognizing the importance of assertiveness and its ongoing development is not only crucial for narcissists but for all individuals striving for more harmonious and fulfilling relationships. So, as we embark on this journey, let’s remember that assertiveness is a path worth treading for the beauty it can bring to our connections with others.
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.