Communication styles: assertive vs aggressive

Lesson plan overview

This intermediate Business English lesson plan looks into 2 types of communication styles: assertive and aggressive. Students will learn key differences between the 2 ways of communication and will practise using assertive expressions. This lesson will work great in combination with the following lessons: “The importance of good posture”, which includes key vocabulary about body language, “Dealing with a difficult co-worker”, “Business meetings; getting your point across”, “Self-care”, which includes different ways of saying “no”, and “Phrasal verbs: communication”, “Phrasal verbs: convincing and persuading”.

The lesson starts with a few questions about assertive and aggressive communication. Then, students look at 3 situations and find 1 assertive and 1 aggressive response and try to come up with basic rules of assertive and aggressive language. Then, they read a few tips and are presented with 17 expressions, which they need to divide into aggressive and assertive. Next, students transform 6 expressions from aggressive into assertive.

Vocabulary: Moving on, students discuss the role of body language in communication and in coming across as either aggressive or assertive. Then they learn a few expressions that will later be mentioned in the video (e.g. hunched shoulders, clenched jaw, lean forward). 

Video: Students watch a video called “Assertive vs aggressive”, which is divided into 2 parts, and complete 3 activities.

Speaking: Finally, students are given 4 scenarios to role-play.

The conversation questions provide further speaking opportunities, as well as a chance to revise the key vocabulary from this lesson.

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Teacher’s lesson plan

Student’s worksheet

Student’s interactive PDF

Conversation cards PDF

Pre-class activities

To send the pre-class activities to your students, copy the link below.

Vocabulary matching


The first time you watch the video, pay special attention to the correct pronunciation of the following words:

The worst thing you can do in sounding confident or assertive is starting off with some kind of qualifier like this. So I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not, but I’ll share it and you can see what you think.
Gaze is an incredibly important cue because not only does it create connection, so when we gaze, we create oxytocin, which produces the chemical connection, but also how we gaze sends specific social signals.
If someone’s pushing you and you don’t feel comfortable, excuse yourself in the situation because you deserve better.

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

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