Assertiveness vs Aggressiveness

Are you assertive or aggressive?When undertaking a hospitality traineeship you will learn important conflict resolution skills such as being assertive without being aggressive.

Assertiveness is the ability to express our own concerns and needs in a direct and honest manner tactfully and with concern for the other person’s feelings.

Assertive people have high self-esteem, respect for others’ viewpoints, and clear and strong values that they are able to clearly express.

The assertive person is flexible, constructive in their feedback and confident in their opinion. Their body language is likely to be open and they take responsibility for how they feel. For example, ‘I feel frustrated when I am unable to assist you with the problems I think you sometimes have in communicating with customers.’ In this example, the assertive person isn’t accusing or blaming the other person, but letting them know how they feel in response to the actions of the other.

By contrast, an aggressive person is likely to impose their point of view forcefully on another, fail to respect the other person’s views, ideas and opinions, and be not only dominating but also demanding. The aggressive person puts their own wants and needs before others’. Their body language will reflect their aggression too. During conflict, aggressive people are likely to ‘accuse’ their opponent of causing them to feel the way they do—for example, ‘Yow make me very angry when . . .’

A passive person’s behaviour is fairly submissive. This person is likely to be ‘eager to please’ and reluctant to ‘make waves’. This person often lacks the ability to express their opinion confidently and usually defers to the other person. The passive person is likely to cast their eyes down and have slumped shoulders during conflict situa­tions and agree to just about everything—for example, ‘You’re right, it’s my fault. . .’

In a conflict situation, assertiveness is a more desirable attribute (and communi­cation technique) than either passiveness or aggressiveness. However, it is useful to be aware of all three styles, as this helps us to manage the situation more effectively when dealing with each type. It is also useful to help us identify traits we may demon­strate during conflict that may hinder the resolution process.

Obtaining a Certificate III in Hospitality is an excellent way of improving your conflict resolution skills.