|Assertiveness is the effectively expressing of a person and standing up for his opinion while respecting the beliefs and opinion of others / Photo by Wavebreak Media Lt via 123rf.com|
There is often a fine line between being nice and being labeled as a pushover. Some individuals tend to suffer in silence just to keep the peace. Not everyone deals with conflict in the same way. Although some may handle conflict well, for others, even the mildest form of conflict can be very toxic to their being.
For others who choose to avoid conflict altogether, there is a tendency for people to either talk over them or ignore them since everything is “okay” for them anyway. What the others do not know is that the individual who often appears to go with the flow is the one who feels overlooked. They may also feel that others do not care about their needs and feelings.
This is when assertiveness should be used. People will not be able to identify what a person needs unless they ask for it. It is also hard to acknowledge another person’s feelings when they do not say how other’s words, actions, or the general situation make them feel.
In a study conducted by Forbes, it was revealed that leaders who have a high ranking on being assertive and having good judgment have a 71% chance of being rated as an effective leader.
What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a basic communication skill, the Mayo Clinic says. It means that a person is effectively expressing themselves and standing up for their opinion while also respecting the beliefs and opinions of others. Being assertive aids in raising one's self-esteem and gaining the respect of others. It can help with stress, especially if a person has the tendency to overburden themselves with managing more responsibilities than they are actually able to take on.
Who Finds It Difficult to be Assertive?
People who have a low self-esteem are revealed to struggle with assertiveness, GoodTherapy.org says. When a person is not confident or has a low sense of self-esteem, they may feel that they are unable to defend themselves and this also makes them unable to properly address their needs. This makes them belittle themselves and sends the message that they are unworthy of getting their needs met. This shows people that they are inhibited, indecisive, and weak and makes them more susceptible to being exploited and undermined.
Those who suffer from social anxiety disorder are also noted to have a hard time being assertive. Arlene Cunic, a psychologist from the University of Western Ontario, explains that for people who are socially anxious find it hard to be honest about their feelings and openly share them to others. They find it so hard to be assertive that instead of clearly telling others what they want and feel, they keep those thoughts to themselves. Since other people cannot read their mind, they tend to neglect their feelings.
Other people who may also find it hard to practice assertiveness are the highly sensitive people (HSPs). Since they want to stay away from conflict and assume a quiet demeanor, others may have the tendency to disregard their opinions.
Other factors that may cause a person to struggle with asserting themselves as stated by the website Skills You Need are being stressed, certain roles (for example, women are expected to be more submissive), past experiences and personality traits (for instance, they may think that because they are naturally passive they are unable to be assertive).
Overall, this shows that passive people are usually inclined to avoid asserting their own opinions, feelings, and needs because they do not want to be seen as aggressive and selfish.
Differentiating Assertiveness and Aggressiveness
According to Mind Tools, assertiveness is a skill founded on balance. It requires a person to be straightforward about their wants while also considering the needs and desires of others. In being assertive, a person shows that they are self-assured and they are able to convey their message firmly, fairly and empathetically.
On the other hand, aggressiveness is based on getting ahead of others. When a person is aggressive, they only seek to fulfill their self-interests without considering what other people’s feelings, needs and wants. Being aggressive is also akin to being selfish. Aggressive individuals appear to others as being bossy or being someone who wants to bully them. Most of the time, they will take what they want without asking if they can have it.
Why People Should Be More Assertive
A person who is passive may be seen as either extremely shy or easygoing. If a person usually says that they will just submit to what the decision of their group, they may prevent conflict from happening but at the same time, this implies that their feelings and thoughts are not as important as others. Passivity leads people to think they are permitted to ignore their wants and needs. Always saying yes can ruin a person’s relationships because it teaches others that their needs come second. This may also create internal conflict.
Internal conflict resulting from being too passive can cause an individual to be stressed, resentful, feel victimized, resentful, seething with anger and want to take revenge on people whom they perceive as inconsiderate to their needs.
Positive Effects of Being Assertive
Assertiveness has several benefits, including:
Making people become better managers
Assertive people tend to finish tasks by being fair and respectful towards others and others reciprocate this treatment positively. Other people see them as the best kind of leaders and will also tend to have an affinity for them.
Arranging successful "win-win" solutions.
They also have the ability to see the importance of the other person’s situation and make a beneficial compromise with them.
Helping people become effective doers and problem-solvers.
Being able to practice assertiveness makes a person feel that they are in control. They will do their best to find effective solutions to any problems and setbacks that come their way.
Reducing stress and anxiety
When an individual is assertive, they become more confident. As a result, when plans go wrong or when something unexpected happens, they would not feel threatened or victimized.
How to be Assertive
Lifehack explains that there are four steps that can help a person implement assertiveness in their daily circumstances. These steps are:
1. Tell others what is really happening
Individuals are advised to begin by describing to others the outline of their situation and try to make it as factual as possible so that it will reduce people’s inclination to disagree with them.
Afterwards, they may express their opinion about the situation, justifying themselves in such a way that does not make other people feel that they merely want to oppose them. Giving others their perspective helps people see the situation from their point of view. In effect, this makes them show more empathy towards the person and this will also help in convincing them to agree with their decision.
2. State how they feel
After showing people their perspective, they must also tell others how they feel about it. Using “I” statements is shown to be more effective than “you” statements. Making use of “you” statements places the blame on others and suggests that everyone else is in control of their feelings, whereas “I” statements that express how they feel can prevent people from disagreeing.
This is because when they state their feelings, people cannot negate that they have felt that way. For instance, if a person says, “I feel annoyed”, it would be unreasonable for others to respond with “No, you're not annoyed” because it is that person’s feelings, not theirs.
Also, if a person often uses “you” statements, this will make others feel defensive since this makes it appear that is their fault for causing the person to feel a certain way, when the truth is that others cannot control their emotions. They are the one responsible for controlling their own feelings. They may also react by saying they were not trying to make the person feel that way. As a result, they may also feel antagonistic towards that individual.
3. Be clear about their wants
Upon elaborating on the situation and what they feel about it, they should also be able to express what they specifically want people to do or should not do. They should state these wants clearly. To reinforce these wants, they may repeat their justification or previously stated feelings to make their argument more effective.
5. Explain how the results will benefit everyone
End the argument by stating not only how their chosen solution will be good for them, but also why it would benefit others. When a person only states why the solution would benefit them, the argument does not become persuasive. People tend not to agree with a decision if they do not see what the advantages are for them if they choose to go along with that choice.
By showing them what they will gain by choosing the same solution, this will give them a reason to want to agree with them. In addition, showing them the long-term consequences of not complying with that decision may also convince them to see the situation from their perspective.
The person may also resort to positively reframing the situation. In doing this, they help others view the situation not as a loss, but as something positive. For example, telling others that the negative circumstance is not a loss but a situation which helps them learn and gain experience can make people see the situation from a different angle.
|Practicing assertive communication strategies can lead them to be more respected, productive and efficient / Photo by Getty Images|
Practice Assertion to Avoid Being Disregarded, Talked Over and Ignored
People can become better at being assertive over time by defining their needs and desires, expressing them positively and setting healthy boundaries like saying no when they have to. In practicing assertive communication strategies, this can lead them to be more respected, productive, and efficient. Eventually, they will be able to say what they think and feel more directly and firmly.