Virginia Commonwealth University

Assertive Behavior

Assertive Behavior includes standing up for your rights without infringing on the rights of others. Assertive behavior results in an "I win; you win" outcome. Assertion involves expressing beliefs, feelings and preferences in a way which is direct, honest, appropriate and shows a high degree of respect for yourself and for others.

"When you talk, I can't hear the movie. Please keep it down." "I really like it when you wear that shirt. You look great!"

Passive / Nonassertive Behavior is when someone gives up their own rights and (directly or indirectly) defers to the rights of another person. Passive behavior results in an "I lose; you win" outcome. Passive behavior includes violating your own rights through inaction or by failing to express your thoughts, feelings or desires.

"We can do whatever you want. Your ideas are probably better."

Aggressive Behavior is when someone stands up for their own rights without regard for others. Aggressive behavior results in an "I win; you lose" outcome. Aggression is self-expression which demands, attacks or humiliates other people, generally in a way which shows lack of respect for others.

"Hey, I'm in a hurry. Get out of my way."

Passive-Aggressive Behavior occurs when someone acts out aggressive impulses in an indirect way. When people act passive-aggressively, they attempt to get what they need or want indirectly or manipulatively. Passive-aggressive behavior is an indirect attempt to control or punish others.

"I’m sorry I'm so late. I didn’t realize this was such a big deal." "Oh, don’t bother; I'll just have to do it myself."

Assertive Behavior is: Self-Expressive; Honest; Respectful of the Rights of Others Direct and Firm; Socially Responsible; Learned, not Inborn Equalizing - benefiting self, other and relationship Verbal - includes feelings, thoughts, desires, rights, facts, opinions Nonverbal - eye contact, voice, posture, facial, gestures, timing Appropriate - for the person, culture and situation

Assertiveness Script: "When you ____ (behavior), I feel/think ____ ; So, I would like _____(new behavior).

Self Help

An online resource for college mental health where you can:

  • Take a quick 5 to 10 minute self-assessment to learn if a treatable mental health problem could be affecting you or a friend.
  • Talk to someone at our counseling service and other local resources.
  • Learn about different mental health issues affecting students.

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Scheduling an Initial Appointment

Must come in person to either location:

Monroe Park Campus
University Student Commons, Room 238
907 Floyd Ave.
(804) 828-6200
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

MCV Campus
Grant House, B011
1008 East Clay St.
(804) 828-3964
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

After Hours Emergency
Please call VCU Police dispatcher:
(804) 828-1234 and ask to speak to a therapist.