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Chapter 12. Body-Language Signals > Nonassertive, Assertive, or Aggressive?

Nonassertive, Assertive, or Aggressive?

Given the list of body-language signals on the previous page, how would you classify the following?

NAS = Nonassertive AS = Assertive AG = Aggressive

1: _____ Elbows out, fists on hips
A: Aggressive. This posture makes a person look larger, much like birds fluff feathers, mammals raise neck hairs, and some fish and reptiles inflate themselves.
2: _____ Touching someone’s forearm as you speak with them
A: Assertive. This may be a comforting gesture or a way to communicate emphasis.
3: _____ While walking, putting an arm around someone and firmly grasping their shoulder
A: Aggressive. This entraps the other person and is a controlling maneuver, rather than an affectionate or comforting one.
4: _____ Shifting repeatedly from one foot to the other while standing
A: Nonassertive. The shifting movement communicates anxiety.
5: _____ Constantly nodding head up and down
A: Nonassertive. Head bobbing usually signals, “I want to please you.” Occasional nods may communicate attentiveness.
6: _____ Leaning back, propping feet on desk, grasping hands behind head
A: Aggressive. Most people perceive this as a power display.
7: _____ Looking at toes while speaking
A: Nonassertive. Looking down frequently or steadily communicates anxiety.
8: _____ Leaning forward with hands grasped, elbows on knees while seated facing someone
A: Assertive. This probably signals interest and attentiveness.
9: _____ Rapidly tapping pencil (like a drumstick) while listening
A: Aggressive. When the tapping communicates impatience or boredom—it might come across as nervousness (accompanying signals makes the difference).
10: ____ Sitting with elbows on table, hands together, chin on hands while listening
A: Assertive. This looks relaxed and attentive.
11: ____ Standing with arms folded while listening
A: Aggressive. This is the most frequent interpretation. Others include “closed mind,” impatient, bored, uncaring, and defensive.
12: ____ Standing with arms folded, head tilted, and legs crossed
A: Nonassertive. This posture usually signals deference and it is almost impossible to retain for any length of time. It could appear relaxed with a peer.
13: ____ Looking over the tops of eyeglasses
A: Aggressive. This signal usually looks disapproving or threatening.
14: ____ Twirling a pencil with fingers at each end while talking
A: Nonassertive. Twirling the pencil probably communicates anxiety. Doing it while listening to someone could signal impatience.
15: ____ Elbows on table, hands together at fingertips forming a “steeple”
A: Aggressive. This is another subtle power display.



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