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Lindsey Patterson

Assertive vs. Rude, What's the Difference?

3 min read

people sitting on chair in front of table while holding pens during daytime

Many people suffer from communication problems because they fear being assertive with others for excessive worry about being perceived as rude.


So, What is the Difference Between Being Assertive and Rude?


Being assertive is being clear and unapologetic about what you want or need in any kind of situation. And shy, bashful, introverted people, whether they personally emulate it or not, know that assertive people generally get much more out of life.


They get the dates from the girl, they approach the boss for a raise, and in sales they are not afraid to ask the customer to buy. Always being closed is the mantra of salesmen, and essentially, assertive people are most often closing in one way or another.


However, as much as assertiveness is a trait to be admired, it's far different than rudeness. When assertiveness crosses the border into rudeness, most of it's because the aggressor only cares for his own opinion, not for the opinion of others.


When you are assertive that doesn't mean that you don't respect the other persons feelings, thoughts and beliefs.


Also, being assertive is being practical. The late President Kennedy was very assertive in many areas of politics and world affairs. When he addressed the U.S. (and Soviet Premier Khrushchev on the Cuban Missile Crisis, there was no doubting his resolve.


Yet when Kennedy came up for election against vice president Richard Nixon, one of his abilities was to assess smaller objectives against greater issues. Kennedy wanted to get elected,


So, when he was nominated by the Democrats at the 1960 Democratic Convention on the first ballot, JFK choses Lyndon Johnson as his running mate even though the two had open animosity for one another.


However, Kennedy was more concerned with winning the election, and Johnson's deep support in the South meant more to him than their mutual animosity.


Many assertive people can learn a lot about finding the fine balance between being assertive and caring for their opponent’s feelings by going through helpful negotiations training.


Similarly, many people who are shy and introverted can learn a lot about how being clear and forthcoming about their objectives is appreciated in business negotiations. And pretty much everything in life is a negotiation of some kind.


Another key tactic for assertive people to learn, and it is why being assertive sometimes gets a bad name, is that assertive people sometimes do not recognize the right time and place to negotiate.


For example, if a person feels they deserve a raise and they have half a dozen points listed on paper why should they get that raise including how they have brought a certain amount of income to the company in the last 6 months or year because of sales or new clients. That's a great start.


What isn't a great start is hitting the boss for a raise at the company picnic, or an awards dinner where the boss is being named philanthropist of the year.


Timing and Circumstances Are As Important As Being Assertive


Also, politeness counts. Being assertive, whether in a job interview, or a sales presentation must be tempered with politeness and respect if you wish to be an effective communicator. Otherwise, it easily comes off as rudeness.