What is assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a communication style where we communicate with others positively, directly, and firmly. It must be persistent at times, mostly when a persuasive person is trying to get to say yes when you want to say no—being assertive means to stand up for ourselves and take actions for our own best interest. While doing all of these, you are not forgetting about the rights of the other person you are communicating with. Assertiveness is not getting your way. Instead, you are trying to be honest in a comfortable way that doesn’t hurt anyone and promotes equality in your relationships.
You may wonder, Why do I need assertiveness? Or who would benefit from assertiveness? The answer is that most of us need to learn this skill at some point in our lives. Some easy ways to understand whether this skill may be helpful or not is to ask ourselves: Do I have trouble expressive warm or positive thoughts within my relationships? Do I have trouble starting a conversation with a stranger? Also, think about whether you have a hard time saying no to persuasive people and whether or not you have a hard time convincing people of your ideas. These are signs that you may need to start working on your assertiveness. Assertiveness is a long process, and it takes a lot of practice. Becoming entirely assertive in all of your communication may take some time and definitely a lot of practice. So, be patient with yourself. Remember that assertiveness is the alternative to being constantly manipulated and feeling powerless. Some examples of when assertiveness may be needed are the following:
- A coworker is too nosy about your personal life
- Your car mechanic did work that you didn’t authorize.
- Your child is being bullied after school
- You are tired of family arguments during dinner time
- You are tired of your children using their phones during meal times.
- You want to see your adult children more often.
- You buy things you don’t want to buy from intimidating salespeople.
How to become assertive?
Remember that assertiveness means expressing yourself in a firm, direct, positive, and persistent way. This means you must spontaneously express yourself directly to the people you are talking to. You want to be firm, which means you will not speak with fear; you must be fearless. You also want to be persistent if needed, so they understand you are serious about what you are saying.
As we mentioned before, assertiveness will help you act in your best interest. Which means you are making a conscious decision on all aspects of your life. You are making decisions about your career, your relationships, your lifestyle, the activities you want to do, the conversation you want to have, everything. With assertiveness, you are also standing up for yourselves, which means saying no when needed. Examples of this would be: setting limits on time, energy, relationships, coworkers, and even your boss. While doing all of these, you must remember everyone else’s rights. Assertiveness doesn’t mean to get your way every time without caring about others’ well-being. The importance of assertiveness is that you express yourself and feel good about it. You may or may not get what you want, but at the same time, you are not hurting others.
So, after explaining what assertiveness is. How can you become better at it? Practice it every day. Perhaps you may initiate by creating a baseline. Analyze your actions and communication with others now that you learned when you might need to be more assertive. Then keep a journal of your communications with others. Review it every day and ask yourself: How could I have done that better? If you felt you truly didn’t express what you felt, then you probably didn’t. Which means time for assertiveness. An easy way to get started on being more assertive is simply by practicing “being nice.” Yes, being friendly means being polite, being thoughtful, being honest, reaching out to others, and maintaining a balance in your relationships. Practice all these qualities every day and evaluate accordingly. I am polite and thoughtful, yet I still don’t have balance in my relationship? Perhaps, I am still giving too much and not taking enough? Then it is time to stand up for me.
Another way to become more assertive is to study yourself profoundly. Think carefully and set goals for your personal growth. What do you want to achieve from becoming more assertive? Consider the following critical criteria when trying to set your goals: individual factors, ideals, feasibility, flexibility, time, and priorities. Also, consider keeping track of the following on your journal: situations that are difficult for you, key people in your life, your attitudes, thoughts and beliefs, your behavior, and your obstacles. Pay special attention to the instances where instead of being firm and honest, you withdraw and swallow your disagreement by staying quiet. Keeping track of these aspects will help you have a clearer picture of your daily communication. It will help you to get to know you!
After you analyze your actions profoundly, it is imperative to create an action plan. What are your short-term goals? What are your long-term goals? Perhaps you want to start saying “no” more often and not feel sorry about it in the short term. Maybe you want to start talking to your neighbors more often or completing your spouse daily. You may want to take an assertiveness course in the long run, and you may want to work on your eye contact and speak out more.
Assertiveness helps create equal relationships and relieve large amounts of stress that come when you feel unable to speak up and say your opinion. It is easy to avoid talking about specific needs or wants within the relationship because you may feel scared to express yourself with assertiveness. Hence, the importance of learning to express yourself positively. In this way, you get what you want and avoid a possible argument. Assertiveness is an essential aspect of personal growth and empowerment. It is crucial to feeling heard, understood, and primarily accomplished in every part of life. Start a journal and learn whether you may need more assertiveness in your life!