Do You Speak Up at Work?

Are you Aggressive, Passive, or Assertive at Work?

This week we are sharing information from The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook by David S. Sobel and Robert Ornstein. The authors of the book explain that there are basically three ways we communicate with other people: aggressively, passively, or assertively. Effective communication is usually assertive communication. When you communicate assertively, you stand up for your rights in a friendly way. Assertive responses consider both your own feelings and the feelings of the other person.

Aggressive Responses
Aggressive responses are angry or defensive towards others. Aggressive people blame others for their problems. When you respond by yelling or blaming others you aren’t respecting the others person’s beliefs or feelings. Aggressive people blame others and appear angry.

Passive Responses
Passive responses usually lead to anger, resentment, and hurt feelings. Typically people with low self-esteem or who feel inferior blame themselves for problems. Instead of standing up for themselves, passive people turn blame inward and often feel depressed.

Assertive Responses
When you respond assertively you express your personal needs and opinions, you can disagree openly, and you can say no. Assertive responses usually result in improved self-esteem, less tension, and often resolve the problems. It is not selfish to assertively express your beliefs, communicate your feelings, and stand up for your values. The key to responding assertively is to be kind and respect other’s feelings, while respecting and expressing your feelings.

Passive aggressive people express anger in indirect ways.

Many of us carry unhelpful assumptions about ourselves; our rights to express ourselves and to be respected. These assumptions make it more likely that we’ll respond in either an aggressive or a passive manner rather than an assertive one.

Our ability to communicate well often depends on examining – and sometimes challenging – our assumptions about our own legitimate rights.

Consider the following:

1. Do you believe it is selfish to put your needs before others’ needs, or do you have a legitimate right to sometimes put yourself first?

2. Do you assume that other people’s views should win out over your own opinions and convictions?

3. Do you think you should always be flexible and adjust to others, or do you think it’s better to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution?

4. Do you feel that you shouldn’t take up other people’s valuable time with your problems, or do you have a legitimate right to ask for help and support?

5. Do you assume that when someone is in trouble you should always help them, or do you have the right not to take responsibility for someone else’s problem sometimes?



  1. Some of the nannies I know need anger management.

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