Certain exchanges require special handling. If you are in touch with people who are passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive, you will benefit by fully developing your ability to be assertive.
In this lesson, you’ll define assertiveness, as well as identify the range of behaviors that can try to thwart your best efforts.
What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a word we tend to use always understanding what it means. Assertiveness is not about getting your own way, and it is not a way to manipulate people so you get your own way while you look like you are being considerate. Those are aggressive traits. Rather, assertive people express their feelings, needs, and opinions in a forthright manner, while respecting how other people feel and think. Assertive people stop short of the abrasive manner that is the hallmark of the aggressive person.
As we explore the differences among assertive, passive, and aggressive behaviors, you may begin to feel that a little assertiveness is just what you need to cut through many of the interpersonal problems that spring up every day.
Often the best way to understand something is through comparison, so we’ll do a little of that here.
People can have difficulty being assertive. They choose passive responses to life, perhaps to avoid conflict. They feel helpless, insecure, or resentful, and have a difficult time saying “no.” They may feel defensive but are unable to defend themselves.
On the other hand, people may also be arrogant, pompous, and presumptuous to compensate for feelings of inadequacy. They may yell, argue, and cajole to get what they want. They meet life in an aggressive way.
The assertive person is someone who communicates with others on the best of all possible levels, where there are no losers, fools, or enemies—just two people who are mutually trying to solve their problems.
Assertive behavior allows a person to express honest feelings in a straightforward way, and to exercise personal rights without changing or threatening the rights of others. Assertive people feel positive about themselves and others. They are willing to give others a chance to be reasonable before using less positive tactics. They want to openly discuss problems based on facts and needs. Assertion is based on respect for yourself, and for the other person.