Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs clearly and directly. It involves standing up for oneself and one’s rights while also respecting the rights of others. Developing assertiveness can be beneficial in various situations, from personal relationships to professional interactions. This topic will cover the basics of assertiveness and provide practical strategies for becoming more assertive in your daily life.
Know what assertiveness is
Assertiveness and aggression are two distinct ways of expressing oneself, and they differ in several ways.
Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs clearly and directly while also respecting the rights and needs of others. It involves standing up for oneself and one’s beliefs, setting and enforcing boundaries, and effectively communicating one’s wants and needs. Assertive behaviour can help individuals to build better relationships, achieve goals, and feel more in control of their lives.
On the other hand, aggression is the act of imposing one’s will on others, often forcefully or violently. Aggressive behaviour can be physical, verbal, or nonverbal, and it can be used to intimidate, dominate, or control others. It often involves using threats, bullying, or violence to get what one wants. Aggression can damage relationships, create conflicts, and lead to negative consequences.
Examples of ‘assertive’, ‘passive’ and ‘aggressive’ behaviour
|Expressing one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs clearly and directly||Not expressing one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs||Expressing one’s thoughts, feelings and needs at the expense of others|
|Respecting the rights and needs of others||Not standing up for oneself or one’s rights||Not respecting the rights and needs of others|
|Using “I” statements||Using “you” statements||Using “you” statements in a blaming or accusing manner|
|Being open to compromise||Not standing up for oneself||Being unwilling to compromise|
|Being respectful and considerate of others||Being a pushover||Being disrespectful or dismissive of others|
- Assertive: “I feel upset when you’re late for our meetings. Can we discuss ways to ensure that you arrive on time in the future?”
- Passive: “I don’t mind if you’re late”
- Aggressive: “You’re always late! You don’t respect my time.”
How to be assertive
Being assertive has several benefits, both in personal and professional settings. Some of the benefits of assertiveness include the following:
- Improved communication: Assertiveness involves expressing oneself clearly and directly, which can help to improve communication with others. This can lead to better understanding, more effective problem-solving, and positive relationships.
- Increased self-esteem and confidence: When we are assertive, we stand up for ourselves and our rights, which can help us to feel more in control of our lives and more confident in our abilities.
- Better relationships: Assertiveness can help us to build better relationships, both personal and professional. When we are assertive, we are able to express our needs and boundaries, which can lead to more mutual respect and understanding.
- Increased effectiveness in achieving goals: Assertiveness can help us to achieve our goals more effectively, as it enables us to communicate our needs and intentions clearly and to stand up for ourselves when necessary.
- Better problem-solving: Assertiveness can help to improve problem-solving, as it allows individuals to express their thoughts and feelings clearly and to listen actively to others. This can lead to more creative solutions and better decision-making.
- More work-life balance: Being assertive can help individuals set boundaries and manage their time more effectively. This can lead to a better work-life balance and improved physical and mental health.
Assertiveness is a valuable skill that can help individuals to be more effective in their personal and professional lives. It allows individuals to express themselves effectively, build better relationships, and achieve their goals more healthily.
|Situation||Desired Outcome||Assertive Response|
|Negotiating a raise with a boss||Obtaining a raise||Clearly stating the reasons why a raise is deserved and providing supporting evidence|
|Dealing with a colleague who frequently interrupts meetings||Being able to speak and participate in meetings||Politely and directly requesting that the colleague refrains from interrupting.|
|Requesting a change in a project’s deadline or scope||Achieving a more realistic and manageable deadline or scope||Clearly stating the reasons why the change is necessary and proposing a solution|
|Resolving a conflict with a friend or family member||Improving the relationship and finding a mutually acceptable solution||Expressing one’s thoughts, feelings and needs clearly and listening actively to the other person|
|Declining a request for a favour that would cause undue stress||Maintaining a healthy work-life balance||Saying “no” clearly and respectfully, explaining why the request cannot be accommodated|
It’s worth noting that assertiveness should be respectful and consider the other person’s perspective and feelings, always mindful of the context and the relationship. It’s a skill that requires practice and patience, it’s not always easy, but it can be learned and improved.
The importance of self-control
Self-control is crucial when assertive because it allows us to express ourselves clearly, directly, and respectfully rather than lashing out in anger or frustration. When we lose control, we may say or do things that we later regret, damaging our relationships and ability to achieve our goals.
Self-control helps us remain calm and composed, even when feeling strongly about something. It allows us to think, choose words carefully, and avoid engaging in harmful or destructive behaviours. Self-control also helps us to keep our emotions in check and to avoid overreacting or becoming defensive.
When we lose control, we may become aggressive or passive, which can have negative consequences. Aggression can lead to conflicts, damaged relationships, and even physical harm. Passiveness can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness and can prevent us from achieving our goals.
In addition, losing control can also lead to negative consequences in the workplace, such as:
- Loss of respect and trust from colleagues and superiors
- Loss of credibility and reputation
- Damaged relationships with coworkers and clients
- Difficulty in achieving goals and completing projects
- Legal actions and disciplinary actions
Being assertive requires self-control, it’s about being able to express oneself in a clear, direct, and respectful manner, and it requires being aware of one’s own emotions and being able to manage them effectively. It’s important to reflect and practice self-control to achieve the desired outcome and maintain positive relationships.