What Is Assertiveness?
It’s not always easy to identify truly assertive behavior. This is because there’s a fine line between assertiveness and aggression, and people can often confuse the two. For this reason, it’s useful to define the two behaviors so that we can clearly separate them:
- Assertiveness is based on balance. It requires being forthright about your wants and needs, while still considering the rights, needs and wants of others. When you’re assertive, you are self assured and draw power from this to get your point across firmly, fairly and with empathy.
- Aggressive behavior is based on winning. You do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings, or desires of other people. When you’re aggressive, the power you use is selfish. You may come across as pushy or even bullying. You take what you want, often without asking.
1. Value Yourself and Your Rights
To be more assertive, you need to gain a good understanding of yourself, as well as a strong belief in your inherent value. This self-belief is the basis of self-confidence and assertive behavior. This is also where a lot of the work with clients occur in therapy. It will help you to recognize that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, give you the confidence to stick up for your rights and protect them, and remain true to yourself, your wants and your needs.
2. Voice Your Needs and Wants Confidently
If you’re going to perform to your full potential then you need to make sure that your priorities – your needs and wants – are met. Don’t wait for someone else to recognize what you need. Take the initiative and start to identify the things that you want now. Then, set goals so that you can achieve them. Find ways to make requests that avoid sacrificing others’ needs. Remember, you want people to help you, and asking for things in an overly aggressive or pushy way is likely to put them off doing this and may even damage your relationship.
3. Acknowledge That You Can’t Control Other People’s Behavior
Don’t make the mistake of accepting responsibility for how people react to your assertiveness. If they, for example, act angry or resentful toward you, try to avoid reacting to them in the same way.
Remember that you can only control yourself and your own behavior, so do your best to stay calm and measured if things get tense. As long as you are being respectful and not violating someone else’s needs, then you have the right to say or do what you want.
Assertive communication is not an easy task – next week we will discuss specific assertive communication techniques.
If you or someone you know would like to work on assertiveness and self-confidence, please connect at Healing Path Counselling Services.
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