Being assertive means being able to express feelings, asking for reasonable changes and being able to give and receive honest feedback.
There are several benefits of being assertive:
There are different types of communicators. One can be assertive, passive, aggressive or even passive-aggressive.
o May feel needs are unimportant,
o hope others will guess their wishes,
o may try get things in a roundabout way
o Not expressing ones needs or desires
o Giving in to others wishes at your own expense
o Expresses feelings and opinions in a way which punishes, threatens or puts the other person down.
o one can consider it as an indirect way of being aggressive
o it involves behaving in a way that is not rude or threatening to others and standing up to your rights without putting down the rights of others.
o It is not necessary to put another person down (aggression) in order to express feelings (assertive).
o It involves the use of “I” statements to express what you want to say for instance: “I feel” rather than “you” statements such as “You always do this”
If you are trying to be assertive, it may not be easy and you may experience resistance from others who may want to dominate or dismiss what you are saying. The following are some examples of what to do to remain assertive:
a) Broken record- after stating what you want, you keep repeating the same statement each time the other party wants to change the subject
b) Workable compromise: only when coming to a decision where both parties agree is not an issue
c) Behaviours used to exhaust criticism
a) Agree-With-Truth:- avoids defending under attack and exhausts criticism.
i) If statement is true, agree with it
ii) If the statement is doubtful, give the benefit of the doubt to the critic
iii) If the critic be in error, can say you will think about that
Listen to your gut!
Gut sensations occur when Assertive rights are being compressed. Tightening of abdominal or other muscles can give cues that assertion is called for.
Practice, practice, practice!
Role-play specific assertive behaviours in personalized situations and engage in various exercises to identify sensations.
Struggling with assertiveness? Visit DeKuT’s counseling centre to explore ways of increasing your assertiveness.