April 6, 2010

The Difference Between Assertive & Aggressive

BY John Paul Narowski IN Sales and Marketing, Small Business 0 Comment

A surefire way to fail in business is to be passive. You have to take control of things and go after new customers if you want to keep cash flowing.

However, there’s a good way to go after new customers and a bad way. Know the difference, or you’ll just be turning new business away.

Grab the Bull by the Horns, but Don’t Kick Him in the Groin

Being assertive is standing up for your opinion without the hostility factor that characterizes aggressive behavior. When an insurance agent sticks up for the companies he works with, he’s being assertive. When he gets angry with a customer, or tries to choke a new policy down someone’s throat, he’s crossed the line into the realm of aggression.


Read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People and you quickly find out how people react to you when you get aggressive with them. When you get aggressive, potential customers certainly won’t buy from you. But if you’re assertive, you have a much better chance of making the sale.

So, how do you grab the bull by the horns in business?

3 Keys to Horn Grabbing

How do you assert yourself without becoming aggressive? There are three keys to keeping yourself firmly in the assertive camp.

1) Be Polite, But Firm

Being wishy-washy won’t sell your products or convince people to use your services. You have to be firm. Let them know that you’re confident in your product or service…just make sure you’re polite about it. Answer any questions they have with poise and self-assurance to reflect the strength of your product.

2) Stand Up for Yourself, But Don’t Trample Others


You may think you’re trying to offer a customer a product our service, but what they’re thinking is you’re trying to make them part with their money. They’ll make excuses, they’ll debate you, they’ll even point out the benefits of your competition. In situations like that, you need to stand up for yourself, but don’t do so at the expense of the customer or your competition. Verbal abuse is a grade-school playground tactic; one that comes across poorly to your customers . Negative campaigns are a strategy of spineless politicians. Don’t play those games.

3) Patience is a Virtue

Above all, be patient. Don’t take anything too personally and you’ll have a much easier time shunning that aggressive behavior that creeps up inside you. I know from personal experience this is easier said than done, but you can do it. Be happy for the customers who hire you, sad for the ones who don’t, and angry at no one.

Who Draws the Line Between Assertive and Aggressive Behavior


The line between assertive behavior and aggressive behavior is a very fine line that can be difficult to see at times. When talking to a customer, it’s important to be sensitive to their reaction as you assert yourself, because the line between assertive and aggressive is draw by the customer or prospective customer.

Learn to read faces, expressions, reactions, and body language so you’ll be able to tell where that line has been drawn. Once you find the line, you can feel free to tout the benefits your company can offer without getting the metaphorical door slammed in your face.

Find the Sweet Spot

Passive behavior and Aggressive behavior will both cause your business to fail. Find the sweet spot of Assertiveness and your business will flourish.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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