direct aggression: bossy, arrogant, bulldozing, intolerant, opinionated, and overbearing
indirect aggression: sarcastic, deceiving, ambiguous, insinuating, manipulative, and guilt-inducing
submissive: wailing, moaning, helpless, passive, indecisive, and apologetic
assertive: direct, honest, accepting, responsible, and spontaneous
The article also gives a few tips to improve our assertiveness. Quite a lot of it is about body language: having good body posture, even tone. Interestingly, it seems it is necessary to talk about oneself; to start statements with 'I'. I clearly have ownership over statements I make about myself. Factual statements are also secure.
This University of Iowa information sheet lays out three parts of an assertive communication:
- empathy/validation: Try to say something that shows your understanding of the other person's feelings. This shows them that you're not trying to pick a fight, and it takes the wind out of their sails. From the above example, "I know that you get anxious when you're all ready to go and I'm not … ."
- statement of problem: This piece describes your difficulty/dissatisfaction, tells why you need something to change. For example, "… but when you do that, I get all flustered and take even more time. By the time we get in the car, we're mad at each other and not much in the mood to have a good time."
- statement of what you want: This is a specific request for a specific change in the other person's behavior. For example, "From now on, let's be sure we know what time we want to leave, and if you're ready before I am, will you please just go to another room and read the paper or watch TV?
Interestingly, compromise appears to be an important part of assertiveness, although not over things that are a matter of one's self worth or self respect.