Unlocking The Power Of Being Assertive - An Introduction To Assertiveness

Unlocking The Power Of Being Assertive - An Introduction To Assertiveness Blog

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Part of being a confident and happy person means being able to voice your opinion and hear other people’s. But, being able to speak up as well as remain open to other opinions can be a hard balance to find.

So, today we want to talk about assertiveness.

What is assertiveness? 

First, I need to clarify what assertiveness IS NOT.

Often assertiveness is confused with aggressiveness and arguing without compromise. But this is a misinterpretation of what it means to be assertive.

Being assertive means communicating your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest manner, while at the same time being receptive to their needs without intentionally hurting anyone’s feelings.

Assertiveness can be imagined as the middle ground between aggression and passivity. Aggressiveness may get us what we want temporarily, but our relationships can suffer from this approach. On the other hand, passivity can also ruin relationships, as our own needs, wants and feelings are ignored in favour of avoiding arguments.

It is for this reason that assertive people experience fewer anxious thoughts, even when stressed and they react to positive and negative emotions without becoming aggressive or resorting to passivity.

Benefits of being assertive:

While being assertive is often misconstrued, using direct communication can reduce conflict and enhance personal and work relationships as well as build self-confidence.

Other advantages of using assertive behaviour include:

  • Needs, wants and feelings are more likely to be understood
  • Both parties are more likely to feel respected and heard
  • Experiencing fewer negative conflicts and arguments
  • Enhancing confidence and self-esteem

While these skills are highly beneficial, it can often be hard to be assertive particularly in difficult situations. So, how do we become more assertive? 

Tips for being more assertive:

Tip #1 - Reframe your thinking

A great place to start with being assertive is thinking about a recent conflict we had where our needs, wants or feelings were not respected. We can rework this situation by imagining how we could have handled it in a more assertive way using the following tips. When performing this exercise we should pay attention to our body language, verbal cues and the words we say.

Tip #2 - Respecting others

Once we have reframed how we would approach a conflict we need to respect the wants, needs and feelings of others and accept their viewpoint even if it differs with our own.

We should avoid interrupting the other person when they are talking, trying to listen and understand their point of view. We can ask the other person to show us the same respect and attention.

Taking a problem-solving approach to conflict can be helpful, seeking a solution that will meet our own needs as well as others. We should endeavour to see the other person as someone we are working with not against. We can brainstorm with the other person ways to solve the problem together.

Tip #3 - Learn how to communicate 

When we have listened to the other persons needs we then tell the other person honestly, how we feel, without making accusations or trying to make them feel guilty.

Using assertive language such as ‘I feel…’ and ‘I think…’, takes responsibility for and explains exactly how we are feeling, rather than aggressive language such as ‘You always…’ and ‘You…’, which blames the other and escalates conflict.

Tip #4 - Learn 

If the exchange doesn’t go well, we can learn from the experience and plan how we will do things differently next time.

When asserting ourselves, it can help to:

  • Look the person in the eye
  • Hold our body upright
  • Consciously relax our shoulders
  • Try to breathe normally and don’t hold our breath
  • Keep our face relaxed
  • Speak at a regular conversational volume (don’t yell or whisper)

Over to you!

Like any other skill, assertiveness can be learned and developed with practice. We hope you give some of these tips a try and as a result find it easier to be more assertive.

Now go ahead and Win Your Week!