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Aggressiveness in Communication: How To Deal With Relationship Aggression


Updated February 22, 2012

Aggressiveness in Communication: How To Deal With Relationship Aggression

Aggressiveness can be stressful for all involved.

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Definition: We've all dealt with aggressiveness in our relationships at one point or another, regardless of whether that aggression is physical. Aggressiveness is a mode of communication and behavior where one expresses their feelings, needs and rights without regard or respect for the needs, rights and feelings of others. Emotional or physical force is often used so that the rights of others are not even allowed to surface. Others feel victimized and relationships suffer. In that way, relationship aggression is bad for the aggressors as well as the recipients of the aggression.

The toll that relationship conflict takes in terms of stress can affect us in many ways. It can impact our stress levels, and it can also affect our health and happiness. (See this article on the toll of conflict to know more about the negative impact aggression can take.

Aggressive individuals tend to cause others stress and experience increased levels of stress themselves, as their relationships tend to be conflicted and their personal goals not as often achieved. In contrast, assertiveness involves expressing one's own needs and rights while respecting the needs and rights of others and maintaining the dignity of both parties. This results in healthier relationships and increased life satisfaction.

Learning about communication techniques can be helpful ih a couple of ways. Assertive communication techniques can enable us to draw boundaries with others so we have a line of defense against any aggressiveness they display. These healthy communication techniques can also help us to avoid being accidentally aggressive with others, which can also help to avoid conflict. Both of these positive effects make it well worth the effort to learn about assertive communication techniques.

What do you know about your habitual communication style? Are you prone to aggressiveness, assertiveness, or passivity? Take the Communication Style Assessment to find out more about how you speak to others.

Do you handle conflict effectively? Learn more about healthy communication techniques you can use with the many people in your life.

This site has a wealth of information on stress management. For more ways to manage stress, see these onging stress management resources.

Harburg, E.; Kaciroti, N.; Gleiberman, L.; Schork, M. A.; Julius, M. Marital Pair Anger Coping Types May Act as an Entity to Affect Mortality: Preliminary Findings from a Prospective Study. Journal of Family Communication, January 2008.
Newsom JT, Mahan TL, Rook KS, Krause N.Stable Negative Social Exchanges and Health. Health Psychology, January 2008.
Panksepp J. Neuroscience. Feeling the pain of social loss.. Science, October 2003.

Also Known As: Aggression, Relational Aggression, Aggressive Communication

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