Assertion, or being assertive, has, in my opinion, a rather negative connotation attached to it. And, really, I’ve never understood why this is, considering assertion does not typically coincide with aggression in any manner.
Aggression, too, has a negative connotation attached to its meaning, but such connotation is a little more logical in terms of what the word means.
The problem is that a lot of us do not understand the difference between assertion and aggression, and often assume the two go hand-in-hand, which they really don’t have to.
While it is absolutely possible to be aggressive while being assertive, it isn’t a prerequisite. Rather, assertion, when used correctly, should take place of aggression, as it is a calmer yet still direct way to get a point across.
Assertion, in my own words, is possessing the ability to be confident in oneself and refusing to allow someone to intimidate you. Aggression, in my own words, is physical or violent behaviour, and ultimately has absolutely nothing to do with confidence.
At least, it probably shouldn’t.
I can recall writing a paper in university about assertiveness in women, and I chose the subject matter because I wasn’t entirely sure what being assertive meant. I strongly believe a lot of us have a misunderstanding of assertion because of how many of us see it as a bad thing, which strongly demonstrates how ignorant we are of the concept.
There is nothing wrong with being assertive (within reason), despite what we may think. It is unfortunate many of us shy away from being assertive because we fear we will come across as rude or demanding, or even aggressive, because assertiveness has no relation to any of these things. Assertion is a skill, not a hindrance, and I think it would do a lot of us a lot of good if we started practicing it a little more often.