Anger Management: How to be Assertive

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

Aggression, Passivity, and Assertiveness

As we discussed, aggression is not good. Passivity is also not good. In this section, we will outline how to find a middle ground between aggression and passivity. This middle ground is known as assertiveness. How do you find this middle ground?


  • Aggression is a learned behavior. 
  •  Aggressive behavior can be verbal abuse or physical abuse.
  • It is a reckless way to get cooperation from others and is strictly fear-based. 
  • Hopefully, we have begun to unlearn these aggressive behaviors with previous articles. (click here to see our recent article about managing anger )


  • Passivity is also a learned behavior. We all know that aggression is not effective behavior. That does not mean that we jump to the opposite side of the spectrum and practice being passive. 
  • Passivity allows others to violate our rights. It may keep you from receiving negative consequences. However, you are likely to undergo negative personal consequences. (For example, low self-esteem.) 


  • Assertiveness is also a learned behavior. It is a little less innate than aggression and passivity. Assertiveness is rooted in the idea that your thoughts and feelings are as important as anyone else. 
  • This means that you deal with issues respectfully and honestly. 
  • To learn how to be more assertive, we will refer to the conflict resolution model. 

Conflict Resolution Model 

  • Now we are going to outline the Conflict Resolution Model. The Conflict Resolution Model is a five-step process. You should be practicing this model over and over. It should soon become a learned behavior.
  1. Identify the problem- Keep the problem specific so you can deal with the actual problem. Make sure to state the facts of the problem to have a basis for identifying your feelings. 
  2. Figure out your feelings- Ask yourself how this problem is making you feel. Try to identify how the other person is feeling. (never assume how the other person is feeling. 
  3.  The impact of the problem- Identify the negative repercussions of this problem. How would you like this problem changed?
  4. Decide whether to resolve the conflict- Decide to resolve the conflict by being mindful of the first three steps. Ask yourself if you should solve or let it go. Ask yourself if this is something that you might encounter in the future. Consider if it would upset you if the problem happened again. 
  5. Work toward resolving the conflict- The first step is to check the other person’s schedule so you both can resolve the issue. You want to make sure that the person is available to talk. Next, describe the conflict and your feelings respectfully and honestly. Come up with a plan or compromise.

If these steps do not work, let your issues go. Know that you have done all that you could do. 

Practice makes perfect. You must practice these five steps to ensure that they become second nature when encountering future conflict. 

Online Anger Management Courses

This section has a little preview of the rich information included in our Fully Online Anger Management Level 1 and Level 2 online courses. Both courses are full of valuable information. 

Looking for Level 1, Four Hour Online Anger Management

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Our courses are for court-ordered anger management cases or those required to take an anger management course as mandated by their employer. Our anger management courses are cognitive behaviorally based and designed by a board-certified clinical psychologist. Each course includes an official certificate of completion.

Contact us at 904-379-8094 or [email protected] if you have any questions.