Assertiveness isn't usually thought of as a way to reduce stress, but you may be surprised by how exercising this character trait can improve your mood.

People who have mastered the skill of assertiveness are able to greatly reduce the level of interpersonal conflict in their lives, thereby reducing a major source of stress.

Sometimes people confuse aggressiveness with assertiveness, seeing that both types of behavior involve standing up for one’s rights and expressing one’s needs.

The key difference between the two styles is that individuals behaving assertively will express themselves in ways that respect the other person.

They assume the best about people, respect themselves, and think “win-win” and try to compromise.

In contrast, individuals behaving aggressively will tend to employ tactics that are disrespectful, manipulative, demeaning, or abusive.

They make negative assumptions about the motives of others and think in retaliatory terms, or they don’t think of the other person’s point of view at all.

They win at the expense of others, and create unnecessary conflict.

Passive individuals don’t know how to adequately communicate their feelings and needs to others.

They tend to fear conflict so much that they let their needs go unmet and keep their feelings secret in order to ‘keep the peace’.

They let others win while they lose out; the problem with this (which I’ll go into in more detail momentarily) is that everybody involved loses, at least to an extent.

Here are some common scenarios, with examples of each style of behavior: Scenario A: Someone cuts in front of you at the supermarket.