Assertiveness 101

Being assertive is a skill that comes naturally to some but not to all. It’s a trait and skill that can get you far in life when balanced evenly. However, if not kept in check, assertiveness can come across as abrasive, rude, or even mean or aggressive. Being assertive is important for habit changes and gaining self-respect.

When you fail to stand up for yourself, your actions are non-assertive, allowing others to violate or ignore your rights and feelings. This conflict avoidance habit can erode your self-respect and make you feel spineless, helpless, resentful, or out of control and it also will undermine your ability to change other habits.

The opposite of non-assertive behavior is aggressive behavior. After long periods of non-assertiveness, a person can suddenly explode with stress and frustration into an attitude of “I’m sick and tired of being a doormat, I’m mad as hell, and I am not going to take this anymore!”. The non-assertive person now becomes aggressive, ignoring the rights of others or disregarding their feelings altogether, removing all chances for a positive resolution.

In this article, we’re going to explore the topic of assertiveness; we’ll cover what it means to be assertive, how to become more assertive, and how to keep that assertiveness in check.

What does it mean to be assertive?

According to The Better Health Channel, “Being assertive means being direct about what you need, want, feel, or believe in a way that’s respectful of the views of others.” True assertiveness requires a mixture of compassion and self-confidence. You need to empathize with the other person and be respectful of their rights while keeping your goals in mind and the determination to insist your rights and situation are understood. Being assertive can offer many benefits to almost every area of your life when kept in balance.

For example, when you’re more assertive in the workplace, you show your superiors that you have the qualities required of a leader and the confidence necessary to go for what you need or want. In your relationship, being assertive has a whole slew of benefits.

First, it can help you have the confidence to ask someone out in the first place. Second, assertiveness allows you to identify and be clear about what you want and need in the relationship, improving communication between you and your partner and ensuring the healthy state of your relationship.

What can you do to be more assertive?

Make the decision to positively assert your views and yourself and commit to it. It’s not enough just to think about maybe trying to be more assertive in situations, similar to the way you think that you should work out more while you’re eating dessert. You have to commit to it.

Improve your communication and listening skills. These two skills are crucial in assertiveness. You need to communicate openly and honestly with respect for those with whom you are speaking. In addition, you have to become an active listener. Pay close attention to what people say to you, try to understand their perspective and don’t interrupt. The key to having the right balance in your assertiveness is to respect others and allow them the space to be assertive, as well.

Agree to disagree when the situation calls for it. Remember that having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong. Keep your anger in check. Getting angry can make you lose control of your emotional intelligence and the situation as a whole and can become counterproductive to what your end goal is.

Avoid guilt trips. Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want without making accusations or making them feel guilty. Keep a clear head and remain confident in your position. This is about you and your feelings and having your needs met, don’t make it about the other person.

Take a problem-solving approach to conflict. Try to see the other person as your friend, not your enemy. Be polite but firm about your wants and needs. Defend yourself in a calm and reasonable manner. Be straightforward and direct in what you say. Make suggestions on how the situation can be resolved, but be flexible enough to find a resolution.

Practice assertiveness. Talk in an assertive way in front of a mirror or with a friend. Pay close attention to your body language and facial expressions as well as to the words that you say. Practice what you would say to someone who is putting you down, this will help you build your self-confidence and increase your ability to speak up for yourself.

Be patient. Being assertive is a skill that takes practice. Remember that you will sometimes do better at it than at other times, but you can always from your mistakes.

Finally, in the practice of assertiveness, you want to stay calm so that you breathe normally, speak in a normal conversational tone, and look at the person you are talking to. Use what is referred to as “I” statements. “I” statements (I think, I feel, I know) are much more assertive and more constructive than “you” statements (you never, you always), which tend to be more harmful, judgmental, and antagonistic.

How can you keep your assertiveness in check?

There’s a fine line between positive assertiveness and abrasive rudeness or aggressiveness. A good way to keep yourself in check and ensure you aren’t toeing that line is to be observant, not just of yourself but of those around you.

Take time throughout your day to reflect on yourself, your behavior, and your choices. Watch how others behave around you; if your loved ones seem uncomfortable with your behavior or put off by your attitude, you should examine your assertiveness and maybe make some adjustments.

Being assertive can get you far in life, but there’s a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive or rude. If you keep yourself in check when working on your assertiveness and create a good balance, you can go further and be happier in your life. Assertiveness can lead to promotions, healthier relationships, and a more positive self-image. We hope we’ve helped to instruct you on and guide you through improving your assertive behavior.

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