Communicating Effectively: Assertion, Aggression and Passivity

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


Artie’s boss, Jonna, called him into her office to speak with him. “You’ve got to learn to control your temper. ” she advised. “I’m beginning to doubt whether I can trust you to act professionally around clients. It seems that you keep things bottled up until you can’t hold it in anymore, and then you just explode.”


Many people think they are behaving assertively when they are really being aggressive or downright rude. And even though there are dozens of excellent books on “How To Be Assertive” and many people have attended assertiveness training seminars and groups, it’s amazing how many still resort to the “bottle~up or blow~up” pattern of behavior.

Such people rarely respond to annoying matters as soon as they arise. Instead, they say nothing, stew on their feelings, add others to the list, and eventually, some minor event becomes the “last straw” and they let rip.

When you express annoyances as soon as they arise ~ keeping your life clear of resentments ~ your dealings with people are inevitably much better.

Many people erroneously think that minor events are not worth expressing. “Why make myself look so picky and over~sensitive?” they say. Others pride themselves on being “very private.” They keep all their emotions locked up inside. This passivity is a serious psychological mistake. Such people are not only shut in, they are also shut out, because it’s only by letting others into your feelings (positive and negative) that you can develop close and loving relationships.

• If something significant is bugging you, get it off your chest.

• Be assertive about expressing positive emotions, too—love, appreciation, admiration, respect and gratitude.

• Become more of an emotional risk taker.

Don’t fail to express your feelings because of needless shame, embarrassment or fear. Let others into your feelings and see what a constructive difference it can make.


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus and Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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1 comment for “Communicating Effectively: Assertion, Aggression and Passivity

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