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Assertiveness: extend self-esteem towards social relationships

Assertiveness: extend self-esteem towards social relationships

June 12, 2024

Assertiveness constitutes a communication style linked to social skills. This term is very close to that of self-esteem, it is a skill closely linked to respect and affection for oneself and others.

In this article we will better understand the relationship between assertiveness and self-esteem, differentiating between 3 types of individuals: passive people, aggressive people and assertive people.

  • Related article: "Assertiveness: 5 basic habits to improve communication"

The relationship between assertiveness and self-esteem

The lack of assertiveness is expressed by two extremes of the same pole, at one end are passive people, those who consider themselves timid, ready to feel trampled and not respected; at the other extreme are the aggressive people, who step on others and do not take into account the needs of the other.


Assertiveness can be understood as a way towards self-esteem, towards the ability to relate to others as equals , not being above or below. Only those who possess adequate self-esteem, who appreciate and value themselves, can relate to others on the same plane, recognizing those who are better in some ability, but not feeling inferior or superior to others.

The non-assertive person, whether withdrawn or aggressive, can not have adequate self-esteem because he feels the imperative need to be valued by others.

It is rare for a person to go to the office of a psychologist suffering from a problem of lack of assertiveness. Instead of this they usually refer to problems of anxiety, shyness, guilt , frequent arguments, malfunction in the couple, conflicts at work or similar problems. Often an evaluation by the professional highlights a deficit of social skills, expressed in non-assertive behaviors, either because the person is at the pole of passivity, aggressiveness, or because it fluctuates between both extremes.


  • Maybe you're interested: "Low self-esteem? When you become your worst enemy"

The types of people according to their relationship with assertiveness

Next we will talk about the passive person, the aggressive person and the assertive person, but it is important to keep in mind that nobody is purely aggressive or passive, or even assertive. People we have tendencies towards some of these behaviors , more or less accentuated, but there are no "pure types". For the same reason, we can exhibit some of these behaviors in certain situations that cause us difficulties, while in others we can react in a completely different way.

1. The passive person

The passive person does not defend personal rights and interests. Respect others, but not likewise .

It is characterized by a social behavior marked by a low voice volume, the speech is not very fluid, being able to block or stutter. Refuses eye contact, looks down, body posture is tense, shows insecurity as to know what to do and / or what to say and often complains about other people because they do not feel understood or because others take advantage of it.


The pattern of thought is of people "sacrificed" who try at all times to avoid bothering or offending others, feel a deep need to be loved and appreciated by everyone and often feel misunderstood, manipulated or not taken into account.

The emotions they usually feel are impotence, guilt, anxiety and frustration. They have a lot of mental energy but they do not externalize physically, they can feel anger but they do not manifest it and sometimes they do not recognize it or themselves. This pattern of behavior often leads to loss of self-esteem and sometimes loss of appreciation of other people (who both need and constantly seek).

Passive behaviors make other people feel guilty or superior because, depending on how the other is, one can have the constant feeling of being in debt to the passive person or you may feel superior to her and able to take advantage. Somatic problems are also common (gastritis, contractures, headaches, skin problems ...) because the great psychic tension that they suffer when denying themselves ends up being expressed in the body.

In some cases these people have outbursts of aggressiveness , situating itself in the other pole. These outbursts can be very uncontrolled and are the result of the accumulation of tensions and hostility that end up overflowing.

2. The aggressive person

Defend excessively personal rights and interests , without taking into account those of others: sometimes they do not really take them into account and others lack the skills to face certain situations.

In his manifest behavior we observe a high tone of voice, sometimes the speech is not very fluid because it is precipitated, it speaks sharply, it interrupts, it can insult and / or threaten. It has a tendency to counterattack.

Eye contact is challenging , his face expresses tension and invades the personal space of the other with his body posture. On the plane of thought, these individuals believe that if they do not behave in this way they are excessively vulnerable, they put everything in terms of win-lose and can harbor ideas of the type "there are bad and vile people who deserve to be punished" or "it is horrible" that things do not go as I would like them to come out. "

They usually feel a growing anxiety and their behavior leads them to loneliness and to feeling misunderstood. They may feel frustrated and guilty. Self-esteem is low, hence this constant belligerence (it is a defense). They feel very honest and transparent because they express what they feel, but doing so out of rage or impulsivity often hurts others.

The consequences of this type of behavior is that these people generally cause rejection or flight by others. On the other hand they enter a vicious circle, forcing others to be increasingly hostile, so they reinforce this aggressiveness to defend themselves from the hostility that they themselves have provoked.

The passive-aggressive style, a mixture of the previous two, is that in which the apparently passive person it harbors a lot of resentment inside . Not having the skills to express this discomfort adequately, these people use subtle and indirect methods such as irony, sarcasm or hints, trying to make the other person feel bad but without exposing themselves clearly as responsible.

  • Maybe you're interested: "The neurological basis of aggressive behavior"

3. The assertive person

They are assertive those people who know their own rights and defend them, respecting others, that is, they are not going to "win", but to "reach an agreement" .

In their external behavior the speech is fluid, they are safe, with direct eye contact but without challenge, the tone is relaxed, the posture is comfortable.

They express their feelings, both positive and negative, defending himself without harming, honestly , being able to speak of their tastes or interests, being able to disagree or request clarifications, being able to recognize errors and without needing that the other one of the reason.

As for their pattern of thought, they know and believe in rights for themselves and for others. Their mental schemes are mostly rational, this means that they do not let themselves be dominated by irrational beliefs typical of other communication styles such as the idea that "I must be accepted and loved by all" or "it is horrible that things do not go out as I want. "

Your self-esteem is healthy, they feel that they control their emotions Do not feel inferior or superior to others, have satisfactory relationships with others and respect themselves.

This way of feeling and expressing oneself, of respecting oneself and of respecting others, means that they know how to defend themselves from the attacks of others, without using that same hostility. They can resolve misunderstandings and other similar situations and the people they deal with feel respected and valued, so these people are often considered "good people" but not "dumb".

A final reflection

Assertiveness is a social skill and as such can be trained, nobody is born assertive and nobody is condemned to be a "clumsy" or unskilled person all his life , always reacting with hostility or with inhibition. Like any skill, the person who wants to develop an assertive style requires practice to improve.

Bibliographic references:

  • Castanyer, O .. (2003). Assertiveness: expression of a healthy self-esteem. Bilbao: Descle√© de Brouwer.

"I AM ALPHA" Affirmations While You SLEEP! Program Your Mind Power For WEALTH & SUCCESS! Alpha Male (June 2024).


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