Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes & Falling Down: Assertiveness x Aggression x Passivity

Assertiveness is distinguished from aggression and passivity. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to harm or influence them. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by not being afraid to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others. They are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions. (Wikipedia)

Write AS if the behavior is assertive, AG if it is aggressive or PA if it is passive behavior.

Assertive people state their opinions, while still being respectful of others. 

Aggressive people attack or ignore others' opinions in favor of their own. 

Passive people don't state their opinions at all. 


( ) Is afraid to speak up
( ) Interrupts and 'talks over' other people around them
( ) Speaks openly

( ) Avoids looking at people
( ) Glares and stares at others
( ) Makes eye contact

( ) Slouches and stays away and plugged off
( ) Stands tight, crosses arms, invades others' personal space
( ) Relaxes and adopts an open, firm posture

( ) Isolates self from groups
( ) Controls groups
( ) Participates in groups

( ) Hurts himself to avoid hurting others
( ) Hurts others to avoid being hurt
( ) Tries to hurt no one (including himself)

( ) You're okay, I'm not
( ) I'm okay, you're not
( ) I'm okay, you're okay

Answer Key: All the items are PA, AG, AS. This quiz was collected with information from this great site

B. Watch the first segment from the Movie Fried Green Tomatoes and discuss the questions that follow.

1. Describe the segment.

2. How would you describe her behavior? Passive, Aggressive or Assertive? Explain it.

3. What would you do if you were in her shoes?

4. Could she have acted differently? How?

C. Watch the second segment from Fried Green Tomatoes. Then talk about the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. Did she have a different posture this time? Explain it.

3. Was she passive, aggressive or assertive?

4. Did she change her posture during the scene? In which ways?

5. Was she right to do what she did? Justify it.

6. What should she have done?

7. What would you do if you were in her shoes?

D. Now watch the segment from the movie Falling Down. Then discuss the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. How would you describe his behavior? Passive, aggressive or assertive?

3. Did his posture change throughout the scene? In which ways?

4. Why did he become so mad?

5. Was he right to do what he did?

6. What should he have done? What about the employees?

7. What would you do if you were in his shoes?




  1. Dear Claudio,

    I was looking for material to set the scene for my advanced group. We are talking about anger and this activity came in handy.Thank you so much.

  2. Thanks, Dani. I hope it works. See you.