Four interactional patterns:
Aggressive: In this style, one person dominates and his/her needs are placed above the needs, desires or well-being of another. Example: In its ugliest form, there can be verbal or physical aggression that intimidates. More subtle aggression is no consideration for the needs of the other person, such as where he/she may want to eat, where they go, what film they see, etc…
Passive: A passive interaction involves one person yielding to another’s demands without consideration for his/her own personal needs, wants, or wellness. Example: Not speaking up about something that is important to you and doing something you don’t want to do, which negatively impacts you.
Passive-Aggressive: A passive-aggressive style is when one person resents something or is negative about you or a situation, but does not communicate directly and “gets back” in other ways. Example: Delayed or no response to texts/phone calls/e-mails, or going along with something and being negative and complaining about it.
Assertive: An assertive style is ideal in that a person communicates their thoughts and feelings in a non-aggressive and truthful way, listens to another, and considers both perspectives. Example: “When this happened, I felt …” or “It’s important to me that…” Then, be willing to listen, learn, negotiate.
Some people may argue that they “have no choice,” but to be non-assertive with certain individuals in their lives, suggesting that the other person will not understand, or that the person is in a position of power or authority over them. Some say being passive is a way “to keep the peace,” but we always have a choice to interact assertively and it is healthy and good when we do so. When we’re assertive, there will not only be a beautiful harmony between our words and body language, but also an extension of dignity and respect as we stay true to and nurture our best self, while we extend and hold forth a vision of our interactional partner responding in kind.