To assert or not to assert?
By Sylvie Lui
Assertiveness has long been a behaviour associated with words such as direct, aggressive, forceful and pushy. The truth of it all is that – when assertive behaviour is used purely as a tool to state your stance and boundaries, it is one of the most powerful skills you can have in your life (both in work and personal realms). Let’s dig a little deeper – when babies are born into the world, they know exactly how to freely communicate when they need attention – by crying. So what changes when we start to grow up and adapt to the environments in which we live? How do we change our perspective on this topic? That’s the big question here!
Try thinking of assertiveness as a learned communication style – it might not be your preferred thought path at first, but being able to adapt to it (with courage) will help us express ourselves better. To do this, we need to be able to express ourselves in an open manner, which does not have any inkling of belittling anything or anyone around you directly or indirectly involved. When we allow our heightened emotional judgements to overtake and colour our thoughts and feelings in our voices they can often come out as passive-aggressive or overtly aggressive statements and accusations. Can you recall a time where you’ve personally experienced this or witnessed it at home or in the workplace?
The importance of using assertiveness is to state your stance and boundaries with full belief and confidence in yourself, whilst respecting the needs of yourself and others. Being able to communicate our ideas in this way enables us to develop our self-esteem, have a sense of purpose and know that we are in control of our own lives as we fulfill our own needs or wants.
Effective tips to practice your assertiveness skills
1. Fully understand your own needs, perspective, ideas and emotions
2. Take responsibility for the need to express your thoughts and feelings
3. Acknowledge and accept that everyone else also has their own needs, perspectives, ideas and emotions
4. Stand up for what your beliefs are in an appropriate manner without ignoring, violating or denigrating the rights of others
Be brave and aim for the win-win situation when you choose to voice your ideas!
If you'd like to find out more about how you can improve your assertiveness skills, take a look at our one day Assertiveness skills course.