Assertiveness means advocating your views without violating or hurting the rights of others. It is appropriately direct, open, and honest communication, which is self enhancing and expressive.” Assertiveness requires a change in attitude as well as a change in behavior. Our interaction is normally determined by social status. Being assertive helps our voices, opinions, views and values to be heard in society. It ensures that we have clearly stated our views without worrying about other looking foolish or fear of negative consequences. Being assertive carries many advantages. This includes personal rights, values, beliefs, opinions, feelings and information. An assertive person focuses on solving problems (TFR Publishing, 1991).
An assertive person can express his opinions and feelings clearly. Such a person clearly refuses anything in a way which does not offend the other person. Assertive persons do not make commitments if they are unable to perform that task. They do not try to please everyone. They rarely display hesitation in asking for information or making mistakes. Assertiveness does not lead others to blindly follow whatever you say. You can’t expect that others will agree with all your decisions. Your goal is only to have them behave on the job in accord with such decisions. Once you reach a decision, do not be sidetracked or worn down. Being fearful is a feature of passive people. An assertive person is always in control of himself. Being assertive means maintaining your concentration. Looking directly into the other’s eyes, paying close attention and remaining focused ensures that you are being assertive.
If you stare directly into the other person’s eyes all the time, you’ll make that person uncomfortable. Instead, focus on an imaginary triangle formed by the center of the person’s mouth and the outside corners of the eyes. Only occasionally should you look directly into the eyes. Different situations demand the use of innumerable personalities available to us. We need to have a strong belief in ourselves. At times we can talk about the specifics rather than speaking generally. Strategy sets up one idea, into which everything else has to fit. Tactics means coming up with new ideas under fire. Assertiveness increases the likelihood of people helping us and if they are unable to help us they still remain friends. It helps you in making better decisions. It gives you a control of your life. It also has a positive effect on relationships because it minimizes conflicts, fosters respect and promotes growth in life (TFR Publishing, 1991).
Assertiveness is not passivity which is the failure to express honest thoughts and feelings. Passive people allow others to criticize and hurt themselves. They express their views in an apologetic and diffident manner. They give the message that their feelings are not important. They believe that the views of other people are more important. They are willing to listen to anyone and take any kind of criticism. They seek to please and appease everyone in the hope of gaining recognition. They avoid conflict at all cost and do not try to find an honest and realistic solution that would express their views and not violate the rights of other people.
Sometimes people confuse assertiveness with aggression. Aggression normally is an angry behavior if someone is threatened or attacked or criticized. It is a negative behavior that has dangerous consequences for relationships and health. It involves dishonest feelings, views and beliefs which are justified by the aggressive person in order to protect his rights. It violates the rights of other people. It involves the use of degrading, humiliating, belittling or overpowering other people. The goal of aggression is to dominate and humiliate other individuals. Aggression can alienate friends, colleagues and family members. It is a negative behavior which also has dangerous consequences for the health of a person (Tucker-Ladd, 2007).
Assertiveness however places an equal amount of respect, on each person. It recognizes that the persons own feelings and thought are valuable, as are those of others. This is position of personal strength, and personal vulnerability all at the same time. The assertive person makes those around him or her uncomfortable if their peers are not as personally secure. The assertive person can enter into disagreements without taking the conflict personally, and thus be in a place to move the conflict forward to resolution. The assertive person truly can express themselves, because under their own expression is the desire and ability to accept others expressions, recognize the differences, and pursue peace and positive communication. The truly assertive person will quickly be a leader, and a valuable asset to his or her company, and career.
A requirement of superior leadership is assertiveness. Assertiveness is shown in a person who is fearless and daring. Being bold shows how far someone will go to get their point across and how much they are willing to risk. Anyone can be assertive; it usually requires practice and patience to develop this skill. If anyone is faced with a difficult person he should first meet the person to discuss any problems. He should discuss the problem in an unbiased way. He should make sure that his conclusion or judgment is correct. He should describe his feelings and explain them (Tucker-Ladd, 2007).
Assertiveness is a skill which can help in career, family and social life. Assertive people tend to have less stress and conflict in their daily lives. They get their needs met and have healthy supportive relationships that can help them in stressful conditions. Assertiveness also indirectly contributes to a healthier body. This is sharp contrast to aggressiveness which can cause conflict and alienate other people. Passiveness is equally a dangerous and damaging behavior as it results in a low self esteem and lack of confidence in individuals.
Assertiveness is a useful tool in dealing with difficult situations and people. This skill helps you in compromising or negotiating an outcome. It is not always exactly what an individual desires, but it can make the difficult person or situation favorable for you. It is a way of living that respects an individual and the rights of other people.
“How to Make Assertiveness Pay Off in Dealing With Employees.” Editorial TPR Publishing (May 1991):14
Tucker-Ladd, Dr. Clayton E. “Practice giving assertive responses.” Psychological Self-Help. 29 Jul 2007 <http://www.psychologicalselfhelp.org/Chapter13/chap13_22.html>.