Assertiveness a learned skill – Assertiveness is a skill which is often not focused on, and many people go through life not being able to communicate effectively, causing sadness and frustration for both for themselves and their surroundings. Assertiveness is often confused with aggression, but the two communication forms are very different. Many people aren’t assertive naturally, including my self, but assertiveness is a skill which anyone can learn over time. Knowing how to be assertive is an important communication skill which is beneficial particularly when dealing with others, so here is the basics of assertive behavior, and how to improve your skills to avoid arguments.
What is assertiveness?
It’s upsetting to see so many conversations turn out the wrong way due to a lack of communication skills. Being assertive is often being misinterpreted as a behavior where you stand your ground, and keep pushing your point in a disagreement without compromise. However, this is a very aggressive way to approach a situation, which will often result in further anger and frustration between the parties. Using aggressive behavior whether verbal or physical to get your point across is not the same as being assertive. Assertiveness is to be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a direct and respectful manner without hurting anyone’s feelings.
Many people tend to be either too aggressive or passive in their ways of communicating, and assertiveness is somewhere in between the two communication forms. Aggression may initially get you what you want, but in the long run relationships will suffer. On the other hand being too passive can also cause problems as you don’t get your point across and may end up with low self esteem, and a feeling that you are being walked all over. So finding a middle ground and being able to communicate assertively will not only help enhance your relationships but also build your confidence and reduce conflicts.
How to be assertive
Learning to communicate assertively takes time to learn, but the first and best thing to start with is awareness – acknowledging that you would like to make a change and be assertive rather than aggressive or passive.
I have always been on the passive side, and reading up on communication forms and behaviors has greatly helped me acknowledge my problems, and made me more aware of assertive behavior and its benefits.
Suggestions of how to become more assertive include:
- Use assertive language such as “I feel”, “My thoughts are”, “I think” instead of “You always” “You …” which often aggravates the situation by putting the other person in defence mode.
- Communicate your thoughts and feelings in a calm and honest way without making accusations. Be a good listener and don’t interrupt.
- Adapt a problem-solving approach and try to understand the other person’s view point and the background why a person acts in a certain way (or have certain ways of looking at things).
- Speak calmly and in a normal tone (don’t yell)
- Be aware of your body language: Adapt a relaxed feel, and particularly pay attention to the shoulders. Keep eye contact and maintain calmness (as much as you can)
- Respect the wants and needs of others, and expect the same back
- Think back to previous situations which didn’t turn out the way you intended, and think how assertive communication skills could have changed the outcome.
- If a person is aggressive or rude towards you, calmly tell the person that you don’t want to continue the conversation in this manner. If the person still doesn’t make a change, simply say that you can talk about another time and walk away.
- Don’t take things to heart which were said during a heated conversation (even though it’s hard)
- Keep reminding yourself that you want to communicate assertively, and not aggressively or passively, and you have already taken a big step.
Benefits of Assertiveness
Assertiveness affects many areas of life. Assertive people tend to have less stress in their lives, as they have less conflicts and get to express their feelings and thoughts. The benefits of assertive communication are many, but here’s some general points:
- You’ll have less conflicts and stress
- You’ll boost your confidence level as you feel in control of your own life
- You’ll be able to effectively communicate your needs and wants, without hurting anyone
- You’ll reach out to more people and build solid relationships
- You’ll generally be more likely to get what you want, as you’ll be able to calmly and honestly tell others your thoughts and ideas
Healthy living hub enthusiasts are passionate about well-being and healthy lifestyles, and we aim to help people return to their best by motivating and promoting simple changes in lifestyle and food habits. We encourage the mind body connection and believe in an all-round approach to health and personal well-being.
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