Assertiveness and assertive communication are something that can help you a lot in awkward situations with people. Assertive behavior is extremely useful when you want to stand up for yourself and your rights without hurting others.
In the following text, we will cover the topic “Assertiveness and assertive communication – the most painless way to say NO”!
Assertiveness – meaning
There is no adequate translation for the word assertiveness. You may find it easiest to understand it through behaviors that are the opposite of assertive: passive and aggressive.
When someone behaves aggressively, he realizes his needs at any cost, without taking care of other people.
Aggressive behavior is negative in itself and is based on gaining power over someone or something. Aggressive people do only what is in their best interest regardless of other people’s rights, needs, feelings, or desires. The power used by aggressive individuals is selfish, and patterns of behavior are often violent and strenuous.
Aggressive behavior is most easily recognized by the fact that such persons take what they want, often without question.
Passive behavior is reflected in retreating in front of other people and not standing up for oneself. These are people that others, aggressive, trample on in various ways, because they do not know how to stand up for themselves.
Assertiveness is the golden mean. Advocating for yourself and your rights and needs, while taking care of other people as well.
Assertive people are self-confident and burn strongly for their desires and goals, but they are also aware of other people around them, which is why they insist on justice, compassion and empathy.
– Aggressive: insisting on one’s desires and needs at all costs, not choosing means and not respecting other people. They do not accept NO as an answer. They “steal” what they need.
– Passive: withdrawal in front of others, fear of expressing desires and needs for fear that they will be rejected or that they will hurt / insult another. They can’t say NO. They are afraid to look for something for themselves.
– Assertive communication: advocating for one’s own wishes and needs while respecting the wishes and needs of others. They know how to say NO when something doesn’t suit or bother them. They freely and kindly seek for themselves what they need.
People who communicate in an aggressive way feel dissatisfaction and rejection even when they achieve their goals in communication.
People who communicate in a passive way often feel dissatisfied and afraid of other people.
People who communicate in an assertive way are more likely to feel satisfaction, because the way they express their wishes and needs often leads to their realization, other people feel comfortable in their company and are more willing to support and help them.
Some of the beliefs behind these communication styles:
“Others don’t matter.”
“If I give in, others will use me.”
“I don’t matter.”
“I have no right to ask for anything for myself.”
“Others will reject me if I refuse their request.”
“I am important and others are important.”
“I have the right to stand up for myself.”
“Others will accept me even when I refuse their request.”
What are the benefits of assertive behavior?
Although a long-term stable and honest relationship between two people is the main goal of assertiveness, there are some other benefits that assertive behavior can bring you:
• successful stress management,
• developing good self-control,
• sense of self-esteem and self-confidence,
• increase self-confidence,
• achieving goals, desires and needs,
• openness to new solutions,
• commitment to conflict resolution.
What can happen if we are not assertive?
Unfortunately, avoiding assertiveness and choosing passivity comes at a price. It can sometimes be too high, especially if you always choose to keep quiet about highlighting what bothers you or you don’t like others. But you must be aware that in such situations the occurrence is possible:
• depression – a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, anger or inability to control life,
• hatred – hidden anger at others who exploit you and manipulate you,
• frustration – why I allowed this to happen and why I did not react,
• violence – Prolonged accumulation of anger in you can escalate into much bigger problems.
Is assertiveness always desirable?
Before you decide to act assertively in a certain situation, you must decide whether you can live with the possible consequences of such behavior. Although assertive behavior usually leads to a positive response, some people might react negatively to it.
If you have not acted assertively so far and decide to try such behavior, you must not forget that the other person is probably already used to your current behavior and may be confused when you change your communication style.
Assertiveness with close people is sometimes much harder than with complete strangers. This is not strange considering that you are probably afraid of how a person who means a lot to you will react if you tell her something that bothers you or you would like to change at home. Therefore, it is important to know how to communicate properly assertively.
Assertiveness in communication
One of the most common communication problems is caused by trying to read human minds or expecting others to read them. If you want people to respond to your ideas and needs, you need to be able to articulate them in a way that will give others a chance to respond to them.
When it comes to communication assertiveness, exercises are never enough because assertiveness in communication needs to be practiced every day. Peaceful situations are not a problem for assertive communication. The bigger problem is in those tense situations that can’t wait to be delayed, but you have to say at the same time what bothers you about the other person, and yet not hurt their feelings.
Assertive communication is characterized by open and honest expression of thoughts and feelings related to the topic of discussion without violating the rights of another person. Assertive communication often uses “I messages” which are an extremely important aspect of assertive communication.
The characteristics of assertive communication are:
• active listening (looking into the eyes, and showing understanding and feelings),
• clearly and directly expressing their views and feelings,
• use of “I” messages,
• proposing a solution,
• respect for others,
• positive statement of objection (criticism),
• praise to others,
• willingness to apologize when you made a mistake,
• control of negative feelings.
How did assertiveness develop?
One of the biggest obstacles to developing assertiveness is the lack of awareness that we have assertive rights. When someone doesn’t have the concept at all that it’s okay to stand up for themselves, that it’s okay to say what they need, what they don’t want… then it just won’t work.
The first step in developing assertiveness is for a person to adopt an attitude and really believe in it (which sometimes takes time), that it is okay to stand up for themselves, that it is okay to have needs, that it is okay not to want something to do.
These are some basic assertive rights for which it is very important that a person really truly believes that he has them, because then he will act accordingly.
When someone does not believe that he has some rights and deeply believes that it is wrong, he can read something about assertiveness, try to apply it and say something maybe technically correct. Those words sound assertive, but it is not supported by emotion, it is not supported by attitude, tone and therefore it has no effect.
It is extremely important that someone really believes that it is natural, as it is, to have assertive rights.
Assertiveness is acquired in the family
What we have learned in the family is extremely important. It is the basis for what attitude we will have and how we will communicate.
If someone grew up in a family in which he was not allowed to say that he did not want, did not want, to say what he wanted and what he needed, of course that someone will have a problem to be in contact with his in some future relationships and in adulthood. Needs and to have the courage to bring them out. Also, he will not have the skills to express his needs.
It is good that this can change!
Assertiveness may develop!
Someone who has wrongly learned that it is wrong to stand up for himself, that he is then a selfish and bad person, can, when he grows up, learn, gradually, that it is right to stand up for himself. Can learn to communicate assertively.
I repeat, assertiveness, like any other skill, is learned through practice.
Assertiveness is not a universal cure for all problems, but in many situations it can help a lot.
Nine misconceptions that prevent you from being assertive
What are the beliefs that prevent you from standing up for yourself?
1. Other people’s feelings are more important than mine.
2. If I am nice and fair to everyone, everyone will be nice and fair to me.
3. What others think of me is more important than my self-esteem, health, and even safety.
4. If I am good and perfect, I will be accepted and loved.
5. If I behave naively and innocently, others will take care of me and I will not have to grow up.
6. I have no right to stand up for myself and act in accordance with my own interests.
7. Anger is a destructive emotion and should not be shown, especially not directly to those we are angry at.
8. It is best to avoid conflicts at all costs.
9. There is something good in every man and if we give him enough chances, he or she will show us that goodness.
If you have recognized yourself in one, more or all of these beliefs, that is why it is difficult for you to stand up for yourself.
In order to be able to act assertively, it is necessary to get rid of the beliefs that are holding you back!
This is achieved by replacing them with true beliefs such as:
1. My feelings are just as important as other people’s feelings.
2. Fineness and fair play do not guarantee that others will behave in the same way. I am nice and fair whenever it is safe for me. However, I am ready to give up “finesse” when it puts me in danger.
3. My self-esteem, health and safety are more important than what someone thinks of me.
4. Goodness and perfection are not conditions for love.
5. If I behave naively and innocently, if I refuse to grow up and take care of myself, some people will abuse it.
6. I have the right to stand up for myself and act in accordance with my own interests.
7. Anger is an emotion like all others, very useful when it has time and place.
8. Conflicts are inevitable, it is useful to learn how to be constructive in them.
9. There is something good in every man, but for some people it is better to stay away. Our kindness is not a cure.
It is important to keep in mind that false beliefs did not arise overnight, so they will not disappear overnight.
Once upon a time, the lies that kept you from standing up for yourself were true, but now they are no more.
Once upon a time, when you were small and helpless, it was dangerous to show anger.
Now that you are an adult, it is dangerous to never show anger.
It is true, and now that you are an adult, in some situations it is better not to show anger, but let it be your wise choice, not coercion!
I hope you enjoyed the content about assertiveness?
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments!
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