Measuring Assertiveness


Sometimes assertiveness gets a bad name because people confuse it with aggressiveness. But if there were a yardstick to measure human behavior, assertiveness would fall right in the middle, with passiveness at one end and aggressiveness at the other.

Here are some of the ways that passive, assertive and aggressive people are perceived by others:

Passive people:

  • Have trouble saying no.
  • Do whatever others ask, even if it’s very inconvenient.
  • Get “stepped on” a lot.
  • Talk softly and don’t stand up for their rights.
  • They’re not even sure if they have any rights.
  • Do anything to avoid conflict.
  • Are taken advantage of. They get resentful but don’t tell anyone.

Assertive people:

  • Are firm and direct.
  • Are deliberate
  • Don’t blame others but take full responsibility for their own feelings
  • Concentrate on the present.
  • Can express their needs and feelings calmly and easily.
  • Are confident about who they are.
  • Speak firmly and make eye contact.
  • Respect others’ rights and opinions, and expect the same in return.

Aggressive people:

  • Are loud, bossy and pushy.
  • Get their way, no matter what.
  • React instantly.
  • Like to get even.
  • Don’t care about feelings.
  • Give vice-like handshakes.
  • Believe that winning is everything.

Few of us are exactly in the middle of this yardstick, but all of us can benefit from consciously practicing assertive behavior. Very passive and very aggressive people often have an underlying lack of self-esteem. If you see yourself as usually at one extreme or the other, self-esteem may be an issue for you to explore further. Use the infographic to find out if you are assertive or not.

Measuring Assertiveness in Your Retirement Planning

One area where being assertive can be helpful is in your retirement planning. Being too aggressive or too passive can be a bad thing when it comes to planning for your retirement, as either can put your retirement at risk. A strong, confident plan that falls right in the middle between aggressive and passive is one key to creating a secure retirement.

If you are too passive in your retirement planning, you may not be able to generate the income that you need. This may mean not being able to retire on time, or even risk not being able to fully retire at all. It could also mean risking the plans you’ve made for retirement, such as travel, a hobby, or even visiting your family as much as you would like.

If you are too aggressive in your retirement plan, you could risk losing the assets you’ve worked so hard to accumulate over your life. While it has the potential to generate the income you need, a risky, overly aggressive retirement plan could have the same result as being too passive. If your investments don’t produce the return you thought they would, you could lose out on the retirement you want or never be able to fully retire.

Assertiveness in your retirement plan is a confident, healthy blend of passive and aggressive. Your financial advisor can help you build an assertive plan to pursue your retirement goals. To measure where you are in your retirement planning, the calculator Are my current retirement savings enough? can tell you whether your approach to retirement is as assertive as you are.

Registered representatives offer securities through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc.  Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisor representatives offer advisory services through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc.
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