Many people have heard about assertiveness, but not many know just what it means. If you are not aware of the concepts, you could be leaving yourself out of future opportunities. There is a great deal to learn about assertiveness in order to benefit yourself in every personal and professional setting. When you are talking to someone or dealing with a difficult client, this ability can be very useful. Here are some common definitions and descriptions of assertiveness:
Assertiveness is the ability to be self-confident and self-assured, even without being overly aggressive. It is a positive interpersonal skill and in the world of therapy, it is often a preferred mode of communicating. You don’t have to be overtly aggressive or pushy to be assertive; simply being polite and courteous goes far to show your non-ego-disorder, or masking it, while still being respectful and loving. If you are unsure how to communicate assertively without being either aggressive or pushy, try talking to a friend, a coworker, or a family member first. They will be able to give you feedback on whether or not you are using this skill in a way that is effective. In the book “You are What You Eat,” by James C. Anderson, he offers tips on how to become a more assertive person.
Another important use for assertiveness is with clients who have demonstrated manipulative behaviour in the past. This is often necessary, because manipulative behaviours are often done in the guise of kindness, acceptance, and understanding. If you are working with someone who consistently shows their anger, hurt, or guilt through manipulation, then you may want to consider adding a subliminal suggestion to your session that encourages them to practice assertiveness. Using the assertiveness technique allows you to direct their behaviour so that it no longer benefits the manipulator, but the client.
Lastly, assertiveness helps us make decisions. We need to be assertive in order to make decisions, especially in personal ones. This is because many of our basic needs depend on the ability to make decisions, such as what to eat for a living, what vehicle to drive, what school to go to, and even what we should do for ourselves once we get out of bed in the morning. Without the ability to make decisions, some people are unlikely to live up to their full potential, and they may end up hurting themselves or others. Thus, assertiveness helps us make better decisions.
When using this technique, you must first realize that you do not need to put yourself down, feel bad, or apologize to anyone. You are not responsible for other people’s feelings, and if you speak out of place, you will only hurt your own feelings, which can lead to sabotaging your own success. Instead, assertiveness simply makes you clear about your thoughts and feelings. In other words, it requires honesty. If you are not honest about how you feel, then the opposite effect will take place, and you will lose the assertiveness benefits that you are trying to gain.
When you are assertively communicating with someone else, remember that it does not mean that you are always mean. You do not have to be confrontational. Just remember to express feelings, even if you might not like them. You want to be assertive, but remember that assertiveness is not arrogance. Remember that you have the right to feel whatever you feel without censoring yourself. If you truly have a desire to improve your life, then by all means, use assertiveness to get there!