What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a communication style.
It is the ability to express your:
- and opinions
in an open manner that is clear and not only respects your own needs, but the needs of others.
In the middle of the assertiveness scale we have assertive communication and behaviour.
At one end we then have passive communication, which is where people struggle to express themselves clearly.
At the opposite end is an aggressive style of communication.
We sometimes ricochet between both passive and aggressive behaviour. When we're unable to express what we're feeling or thinking (or what our needs are), we experience resentment and frustration.
Passive-aggressive behaviour is where someone is essentially being aggressive but in a passive or indirect way. Imagine someone is angry, but instead of acting in an overly aggressive way by yelling or hitting - or in an assertive way by being clear about what is upsetting them - they may sulk or slam a door, which still gives others the message they are not happy!
How to Develop Assertiveness Skills?
To learn to be more assertive requires developing self-awareness and communication skills so we're more comfortable expressing what we're thinking or feeling and what our needs are.
It also involves identifying and exploring the reasons why we may struggle to express ourselves more easily. These can include:
- unhelpful beliefs about ourselves
- low self-esteem and confidence
- fear of conflict
- prioritising the needs of others
- trying to keep everyone else happy
- or a habit that has developed over time
While being more assertive will not necessarily guarantee our needs will be met or that people will listen, it sure does increase the chances. Assertiveness is a skill that contributes to developing confidence and leading a happier and more enriching life.
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