What does assertiveness mean to you?
According to the dictionary definitions it means:-
Having or showing a forceful personality....Being confident and direct in claiming one's rights or putting forward one's views
or given to making assertions or bold demands; dogmatic or aggressive.
You can see from these definitions there are good and bad ways of being assertive. for instance being 'aggressively assertive' can be another word for bullying, or bossiness.
It's all about power!
Everyone wants to be powerful, however some people are scared of power. Perhaps the responsibility that it brings, or perhaps they see assertiveness as being associated with bullying or bossiness and so they think that people will see them as being bossy or a bully if they assert themselves. These people will therefore often not say what they really think about things, they will not complain if something is wrong or has upset them, and then this will usually lead to feelings of anger or sadness, because their voice has not been heard and their needs are not being met; all because of being afraid to be assertive. Most people have experienced that feeling at some point in there lives.
If this pattern of behaviour sounds familiar to you, then you need to learn how to assert yourself, to speak your mind in a way that people will listen to you.
Getting the balance right
Assertiveness is a power and just as with any other power it is important that you use it for good. Only power used with good intentions is real power, any other power is there in order to compensate for a hidden weakness, just as in the case of bullies who have often been bullied themselves and then bully others to try and get back some of the power and self esteem they lost when they were bullied . It is in a way a cover for their weakness.
This is why it is important to think about your reason for being assertive. Is it to make yourself feel more important and to assert your power over others, or is it because you need to clearly and strongly communicate to someone how you feel about something in order to bring about better understanding of a situation?
Sometimes being assertive can feel bad, but it may be necessary, for instance I never like to complain if I am having a meal with friends or family in a restaurant and something is wrong with the meal, perhaps it isn't hot enough, or the order is wrong, complaining can spoil the nice relaxed atmosphere, but a polite but assertive complaint will help the restaurant to make sure that this mistake doesn't happen again and so they will keep their good reputation, you have therefore done them a favour by complaining, although it might seem uncomfortable at the time.
Clear and assertive communication can prevent a build up of resentment
If you don't speak up about something that is wrong, the anger can build up inside you and you might end up shouting or being grumpy with other people because of the anger which you've held inside. Therefore complaining assertively usually feels good once you've plucked up the courage to do it, because you have communicated and released your frustrations before they've had time to build up inside you.
Stop it !
If you are being bullied physically or verbally, or someone is rude to you, it is important to speak up there and then, clearly and assertively. "Stop it, I'm not putting up with this!", or "Stop it, this isn't necessary!" are both assertive and clear messages. This can also be helpful to make yourself clear to someone who might think that it is a play fight and that you don't really mind.
You have a right to communicate about something which has upset you, or in a situation where there is injustice, you feel there needs to be change. Your ideas are as important as anyone else's.
Assertiveness can also be as subtle as walking away when you feel in your stomach that something is not right about a situation. Maybe you don't trust someone, or they just give you a feeling that you can't explain, but you don't feel safe, or you don't feel right.
Assertivness is about being listening to your feelings and acting on them in the best way possible. It is about not allowing yourself to be dominated by someone into doing something which you know is not right. It's about your right to speak up, or walk away.
How to communicate assertively (in a good way)
- Be calm
- Speak clearly
- Look them in the eye
In order to be effectively assertive, it is often best to try and speak calmly and clearly. People often don't want to listen to someone who is shouting and if you speak too quickly people might not understand you.
So be calm as you can, look the person or people in the eye, this is important, as eye contact is a powerful way of connecting with someone and showing that you are not afraid.
Watch the people who you see as being assertive, people you know, people on TV, what is it about them that makes them come across as assertive?
Most arguments and even wars begin from a lack of understanding and poor communication and through the wrong kind of assertiveness.
Being assertive in a kind way can change your life.
If we could all communicate clearly politely and assertively think what a better world we would live in!
All SMART Coaching(Stress Management And Relaxation Techniques) are designed to provide excellent and relevant quality well-being and mindfulness training, mindfulness training in schoolsor with young minds and intuition, insight mindfulness training across all sectors.