Positive Aggression: Does It Exist?

Is the concept of positive aggression real or just a myth?

Anger, we know, evolved in nature as a survival tactic. It helps defend ourselves against threats to our set patterns or authority.

While it is acceptable to feel angry, acting out of anger is not. That is aggressive behavior or aggression, and particularly harmful when it spirals out of control (like narcissistic rage).

Positive Aggression

Why do we show aggression?

Aggression is a reaction to threats posed by emotions, like anger, fear, frustration, and even boredom.

  • Aggression to anger is a counter-threat to insult or harm others.
  • Aggression to frustration or boredom is usually non-threatening to others, like swatting at a fly, kicking your car tire, or slamming a door.
  • Anger, if contained, usually harms only the angry person.
  • Aggression can harm both the person who is angry and those around them.

Aggression is mainly the outcome of internalizing negative emotions, which leads to anxiety, depression, and stress. These “bottled-up emotions” can lead to aggressive behavior at other times.

So, if most aggressive behavior is negative, what is positive aggression?

What is Positive Aggression?

Positive aggression is using our aggression in a controlled manner to achieve a positive outcome. It is mainly the act of being assertive and setting boundaries in life. It helps us keep our distance from toxic people and acts as a deterrent to those who wish to waste our time or hurt us.

It is not about being offensive to others, but being protective of ourselves.

Positive aggression is important because it can help people understand that it’s not about being offensive or hostile, but standing up for oneself to say “no” or “I want”.

Everyone has the right to be assertive, voice their own opinion, and challenge the status quo. It is a natural human behavior. It is precisely where positive aggression comes into play.

You can easily integrate positive aggression into your mental health practice once you accept it as self-care, self-love, self-respect, and self-empowerment.

How to create an effective message of Positive Aggression?

Most people perceive aggressive messages negatively because they feel threatened or attacked.

To create an effective positive aggression message, you need to do two things:

1. Act with empathy

Understand what the person receiving the message is fearful of or resistant to, and how could you frame it so that they can accept it and follow through.

It’s crucial that you say “No” to at least some of their requests because you value your time, but you don’t have to be harsh about it.

Make sure that the recipient feels that their needs are being met not just through the words but through the actions of the sender.

2. Be kind and calm

Negative aggression is unfriendly and unhelpful, whereas positive aggression is friendly and helpful.

Tell them about your boundaries for them and get them to agree. Stay firm in your stand, but also be kind and calm in delivering your message.

Your positive aggression message should be from a position of nonviolent strength, not from a position of anxious weakness.

Tips for Expressing Positive Aggression

There are several ways to be more aggressive without being so. Here’s a list of tips for expressing positive aggression:

  • Express your opinion.
  • Be decisive with firmness.
  • Don’t back down from a fight.
  • Lead the way on projects or activities they have assigned you to.
  • Take control of the situation and steer it where you want it to go.

Methods of Engaging With Positive Aggression With Someone

A person who is behaving in a manner that is aggressive but not violent, like teasing or sarcasm.

The best way to engage with someone who is being positively aggressive is to respond in the same way. A person can also choose to stop the behavior by telling them they are hurting their feelings.

5 Ways to Incorporate Positive Aggression in Your Daily Life

Positive aggression is a concept that suggests that the best way to get what you want is to be aggressive, but in a positive manner.

The following are 5 ways to incorporate positive aggression into your daily life:

1. Be proactive.

Do not wait for things to happen, take charge of your life and be the one who makes it happen. You are your own best friend or worst enemy.

2. Be confident.

Just because you are not perfect does not mean you should stop trying. With the help of AI, you will find it easier to be confident in your abilities.

3. Say “no” when it is appropriate.

Do not feel guilty about just saying no when needed, because sometimes it is necessary, and you should listen to your instinct.

4. Take risks.

If you take no risks, then you will learn nothing new or achieve anything great.

5. Understand that there are no mistakes, only lessons.

You are constantly learning and growing, so you never have to be afraid of making mistakes.

How to Use Positive Aggression in Workplace Communication

Positive aggressiveness comes from a place of confidence and love.

Positive Aggression is the natural result of high self-confidence, self-respect, and feeling worthy. It is also the result of knowing exactly what you want and having the courage to go after it without apology. It’s not just expecting what we want or need, it’s doing everything we can to get it!

When we speak from a place of positive aggression, we don’t come across as pushy or aggressive—we come across as assertive and confident. We exhibit strength and power in our tone and mannerisms, but never in any kind of violent way.

There are many ways to communicate your point of view to your colleagues. Positive aggression is one of them. It is the act of using conversation to get what you want while still maintaining respect and politeness.

How To Achieve your Goals By Applying Positive Aggression

Achieving your goals in life is not an effortless task. It requires a lot of patience and dedication. However, it also requires the right attitude and state of mind.

We cannot let our insecurities or doubts impede our achieving our goals.

The key to getting over this obstacle is understanding the importance of positive aggression. This is a term that talks about continuously striving for your goal with determination and without fear, while maintaining a healthy self-image.

“Women tend to engage in more indirect forms of aggression (e.g., spreading rumors) than other types of aggression. In laboratory studies, women are less aggressive than men, but provocation attenuates this difference. In the real world, women are just as likely to aggress against their romantic partners as men are, but men cause more serious physical and psychological harm. Women are susceptible to alcohol-related aggression, but this type of aggression may be limited to women high in trait aggression. Fear of being harmed is a robust inhibitor of direct aggression in women.”

Aggression in Women: Behavior, Brain and Hormones

Final Words

Here’s how you can cultivate a positive and proactive attitude through these five steps: 1) Be mindful of the present moment, 2) Create your ideal future self, 3) Approach things with a positive mindset, 4) Think outside the box, and 5) Perform activities that stimulate your creativity.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism)

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