Assertiveness is the ability to communicate needs, opinions, thoughts, and feelings in a direct, honest, and appropriate way. Assertiveness involves standing up for your rights in a way that does not ignore the rights of other people.
Different people have different styles of communicating their needs. Some problematic styles of communicating are outlined below. Read through each of them and see if some of your behaviour matches up:
People with a passive style tend to put other people's needs before their own. Passive people think that they don't have a right to express their opinions. They may believe that they are inferior to other people or that their needs aren't important enough to make a fuss about. Passive people believe that it's too hard to be assertive, that it's much easier to let other people make all the decisions. They might think that they are incompetent, weak, or unintelligent.
Passive people believe that it's easier to 'keep the peace' rather than make a fuss. Over time, passive people start to feel bad that their needs are always being overlooked. They may become depressed, angry, suffer even lower self esteem, or have other physical and/or emotional complaints. Also, people who are passive often lose the respect of people around them and are at risk of being taken advantage of by others.
Aggression involves standing up for your rights in a way that impinges on the rights of other people. Aggressive people usually believe that their rights and opinions are more important than other people's. Or, they may believe that other people have rights, they just may be too inconsiderate to care about them. Aggressive people may be highly competitive or have a strong need to prove themselves. They may think that they deserve more attention or respect than other people.
People who are aggressive have poor communication skills. They usually get their own way by treading on others and being rude, pushy, and insulting. This behaviour may not be intentional but is still harmful and annoying. Aggressive people are offensive and unpleasant and lose the respect of others. They usually have trouble developing or keeping close and affectionate relationships.
People who are passive-aggressive have a mixture of both passive and aggressive characteristics. Passive aggressive behaviour is characterised by people communicating their needs in an indirect or underhanded manner. They experience anger and a sense of injustice when their needs are not met, but rather than not speak up (passive) or behave aggressively, they express anger indirectly. For example, they may "accidentally" burn a meal for their husband. Or, spend the shopping budget on a pair of shoes.
Passive aggressive people may say that they believe other people's rights are more important than their own (passive), but their behaviour suggests that they actually think their own needs are more important than others (aggressive). In situations of disagreement or conflict, passive aggressive people act to increase the conflict rather than to work towards a solution. While it is their own actions which are responsible for this continuation of conflict, they may blame the other person (externalise responsibility).
People who are assertive know they have rights but also remember that other people also have them. They care about other people's feelings and phrase their communication in a direct, honest and respectful manner. These people have a sense of 'give and take' in human relationships. They try to be cooperative in times of conflict.
Assertive people assess each situation and decide which action is most appropriate. They can bend and give in if necessary, or they can stand up for their rights and be strong at other times. For example, they may agree to someone else's unfair request because that person is depressed. However, when the person is no longer depressed they may decide not to give into an unreasonable demand. Assertive people choose the most appropriate behaviour for the situation. Assertive people have control over their behaviour and have respect for themselves and others.
Assertiveness is not about winning or losing, or getting what you want. It involves behaving in a way in which you show respect for yourself and for others in an honest and direct manner. It involves valuing yourself, your needs, opinions, feelings, and preference. It means treating yourself and others with honesty and kindness. Assertiveness is also about compromise and give and take.
An assertiveness training program with Treat Yourself Well Sydney will equip you with all of the skills you need to communicate effectively with other people, in all types of situations. Treat Yourself Well Sydney will teach you more than just the behaviour associated with assertiveness, we will help you to assume the right kind of attitudes and beliefs that characterise truly assertive people.
A comprehensive assertiveness program will usually take 4-6 sessions. If you are interested in learning more, or to make an appointment, call on Treat Yourself Well Sydney (02) 9555 4810 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org