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Updated: Mar 31

The heart of assertiveness is humble confidence, i.e., being comfortable in your own skin and understanding that you are just as worthy and valuable as everyone else in the room.

Arrogance is at the heart of aggressiveness. The hallmark of arrogance is a distinct discomfort in your own skin only assuaged by esteeming yourself higher than everyone else.

Confidence and arrogance are often confused, as are assertiveness and aggressiveness. Even Merriam-Webster lists the two as synonyms yet describe them with opposing definitions, “Aggressive implies a disposition to dominate often in disregard of others’ rights or in determined and energetic pursuit of one’s ends...assertive suggests bold self-confidence in expression of opinion” (, 2021).

So, let’s be clear – assertiveness is not aggressiveness.

The difference is in the attitude.

Assertiveness is respecting yourself enough to clearly communicate your needs, desires, thoughts, opinions, and boundaries; while respecting others enough to allow room for theirs. It paves the way for compromise or healthy distance when a settlement cannot be reached.

Learning to assert yourself is a process. Show yourself grace when you slide into old patterns. Examine your motives – pride wears many masks. Remain humble. Resist arrogance. If you need help learning how to assert yourself or hold yourself accountable, contact me.

Angela W. Startz, MAHSC, CCLC

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