One of the most useful self-help strategies to improving your assertiveness is to make a conscious effort to become aware of how you react when you are faced with resistance from others. Although many people will tell you that assertiveness is a good trait to possess, it can often be counter-productive. In many cases, assertiveness can actually create more problems than it solves. If you want to use assertiveness positively, you have to understand that its effects are only as good as the way you use it.
The ability to assertiveness – defined as being passionate and determined to meet your objectives – is most definitely positive, but only if it is used correctly. Too often, assertiveness is misused, and people use it to get ahead of their opponents, to put people off their back or simply to shut down any sort of meaningful discussion. When you are assertive, you will naturally come across as a strong, confident individual. This is a great quality and one that can be very useful in many situations. However, if you allow yourself to use assertiveness to get ahead of people or to shut down conversation, you will wind up setting yourself up for failure.
It is important to understand that there are different forms of assertiveness, and not everyone can use each form effectively. For instance, when you are assertive with someone else, you might be using physical force. While this may sound like a very effective method, you will probably only succeed in getting your point across if you have also managed to persuade the other person that you are a safe and trustworthy individual. If they were to perceive you as threatening, they would likely do the same.
When you are assertive with a friend or family member, assertiveness is a positive strategy, and you will most likely find that your friend or family member will be receptive to your efforts. When you are assertive with a stranger, however, you must remember that you are doing it just to test them to see if they will be willing to interact with you in a friendly manner. If they are unwilling to do so, it may be a sign that they do not see you as a friend – let alone a trustworthy individual – and they will be more inclined to treat you with less respect. This is not to say that you should never treat a stranger with respect, but knowing when to hold off will go a long way towards helping you with assertiveness.
Assertiveness is a very powerful tool, and it should not be underestimated in any way. When you are assertive, you are exercising your control – you are saying “I decide – you decide”. You have full authority over the situation, and anyone who gets involved in your personal problems is likely to see you in a very positive light. When you feel that you have full control over whatever situation you find yourself in, you will be far more likely to be able to use assertiveness positively.
Remember that assertiveness is a powerful tool that can work both ways. If you are feeling negative about a situation and you feel as though you cannot change it, assertiveness can help you assertively make changes so that the situation improves. On the other hand, if you are feeling positive about a situation, assertiveness can help you take care of the problem and make it better for everyone. When you feel that you have complete control over whatever you are doing, and you can confidently tell someone “I decide”, “I am Feeling” or “It’s my decision” – you are using assertiveness in a very powerful way! Don’t underestimate the positive benefits of assertiveness.