How to Be Assertive - Information and Tips
By Remez Sasson
What is Assertiveness?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines assertiveness as:
"Disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior."
Wikipedia defines assertiveness as:
"The quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive."
Assertiveness means standing up for your rights, and expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs clearly and fearlessly. This is done politely, while considering the rights, feelings and beliefs of other people.
We need this skill in all walks of life, talking to a salesperson at the store, when dealing with service providers, with clients, and our children, and in a myriad of other situations.
Assertiveness enables us to act in your own best interests, while considering the right of others. In this, assertiveness differs from aggressiveness.
Sometimes, on the surface, assertiveness might resemble aggressiveness, because both of them involve bold behavior and action. However, there is a great difference between the two.
Assertiveness considers he rights of others and does not hurt anyone. On the other hand, aggressive behavior is too bold, inconsiderate, and uses loud voice, force, and sometimes vulgarity and verbal violence.
Suppose you disagree with your boss, or are upset with how he treats you. You have 3 choices:
1) Stay passive, swallow your feeling and say nothing. This will make you upset and angry, create resentment, and undermines your efficiency and your health.
2) Be aggressive, and show your anger and dissatisfaction loudly and angrily. This will harm your relations with your boss and you might be fired.
3) Act assertively, telling your boss without fear how you feel, when you disagree with him, and when you are upset with something he said. Do this in a diplomatic manner and with politeness, suggesting a way to settle the matter.
As you see, the third option is the best. This calls for inner strength, self-discipline and acting calmly.
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Passivity versus Assertiveness
Being passive, agreeing with others and not saying what you think and feel is a form of passivity. You allow other people control your life.
This behavior means lack of self confidence and self-esteem.
- You resort to this behavior when you want to avoid disagreements.
- You choose this behavior when you don't want to show disagree with your boss or with customers.
- Every time you don't express your opinions, for fear of not being liked, you act passivity.
- Being passive gives the reins of your life to other people.
- Passivity makes it difficult to say no.
Assertive behavior is quite the opposite:
- An assertive person possesses self-confidence and self-esteem, and expresses what he or she thinks and feels.
- This behavior gives you the confidence to Insist doing things your way, when you think you are right.
- It enables you to resist manipulation and prevent people from exploiting you.
- There is no fear to agree or disagree with people.
You see how the assertive people get their way, do things and stand up for their rights, and wonders what is the secret.
There is no secret.
These people were either born with this kill, or developed it, consciously or unconsciously.
You can develop this skill too.
One of the best methods for developing assertiveness is developing your willpower and self-discipline. When these traits of character are strong, you express assertiveness in a natural way. I have written quite a few articles about this topic, available at this website.
I have also devoted a whole chapter to this subject in my book, Strengthen Your Willpower and Self Discipline.
Tips for Assertiveness
1. Being assertive can be tough at first, for people who are usually passive or try to please other people, but this is not a reason to give up. Realize that you always have other options in every situation. You can always act differently from how you usually behave and act. You are not limited in your thinking and actions.
2. Start with small matters, in familiar situations, or when you don't need much assertiveness, such as:
- Asking for a better seat in the theater.
- Asking for a better table at a restaurant.
- Requesting a bigger sandwich, or a warm and not a lukewarm cup of coffee.
- Asking someone to call you later, when you are busy.
- Learn to say no at stores, when a salesperson persuades you to buy something you don't want.
3. Express your opinions and thoughts. Nobody knows what you want, unless you say it. Express yourself calmly, with consideration and respectfulness.
4. Avoid the venting of all kinds of excuses and apologies when you ask for something. Just state what you want and why, without apologies.
5. Practice being assertive in front of the mirror.
Imagine a situation that requires assertiveness, and talk to your image in the mirror, as if it is another person.
Rehearse various situations in this manner:
- Imagine talking to someone, who goes and stand before you when you are waiting in line at the store.
- Imagine talking assertively to a salesperson.
- Imagine acting assertively at work with colleagues or customers.
Think, where you need this skill, and act and talk assertively to your image in the mirror.
Rehearsing in front of the mirror, will make it easier to repeat this behavior and attitude in real situations.
If you wish to learn more about how to be assertive, read the book below: