Being assertive and the value of it is my topic today. It is that golden zone of appropriate assertiveness that we are after – not too submissive at one end of the spectrum, not too dominant at the other end of the spectrum, just a good, balanced, healthy level of assertiveness.
“I think naturally, if you’re an actor, there’s a high level of assertiveness that you need to have to survive this business. There’s boldness in being assertive, and there’s strength and confidence.” ~ Bryan Cranston.
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
But if I am for myself alone, what am I?
And if not now, when?” – Rabbi Hillel the Elder.
Assertiveness training is something I teach hat my hypnotherapy training college. Authors Wolpe and Lazarus (1966) stated, “A good many [patients] question the morality of assertive behaviour that is required of them for therapeutic purposes.”
I think a lot of people struggle with the notion of really asserting themselves in the way that have a right to do.
They (Wolpe and Lazarus) attempted to counter this misconception by appeal to the Talmudic saying above, that “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am for myself alone, what am I?” By this they meant that the individual must place value on his own well-being, but also recognise and respect the goals of others wherever possible.
Wolpe defines assertiveness quite simply as, “the socially appropriate verbal and motor expression of any emotion other than anxiety”, and remarks that the very essence of it is simply to act toward others in a way that reasonable and appropriate (1990: 134-135). It is important to understand that assertiveness is not irrationally aggressive or domineering behaviour, but a rational balance, the golden mean, between being too passive and being too overbearing or domineering. In other words, it just means doing what is reasonable and healthy. One aspect of assertiveness is the ability of getting your point across respectfully.
Can you express your feelings, thoughts and beliefs openly even when one disagrees with your point of view? How comfortable are you at delivering bad news or saying NO in a way your friend, colleague or team member still feels valued? How good are you at standing up for your rights?
Emotionally intelligent individuals can and do effectively express feelings, beliefs and thoughts openly and defend their rights in a respectful manner. Assertiveness is the ability to maintain the right balance between your needs and the needs of others. It empowers you and is closely associated with a high level of self-confidence and independence.
Self-confidence and assertiveness are two skills that are crucial for success in many aspects of life. Your ability to make decisions, understanding your strengths and being able to tune into your feelings in your day-to-day life, can make a massive difference between being successful or not and enjoying your experience of life. Being assertive, gives you focus, drive and determination to stick with the tasks that positively affect our lives.
There are some added bonuses, once you have cracked the “self-confidence and assertive nut”, you can transfer your positive energy on and influence the other people effectively in your life.
“Women pay attention to how men drive because it’s a good indicator of what kind of character you have. They want someone who’s going to be intelligent and cautious and assertive and confident when you need to be, but not overly aggressive and reckless, and also not timid and overly paranoid.” ~ Jason Marsden.
The benefits to being an assertive person can be immense:
Be able to communicate confidently:
Assertive communication can be beneficial whether you’re at work, home, or in social settings, and with any audience. They’re particularly helpful with addressing uncomfortable or delicate situations. Using assertive communication style, you earn the respect of your peers and be able to communicate more confidently for career success and happiness.
Have greater self-esteem:
There is a correlation between self-esteem and assertiveness. Research shows that assertive adults in particular tend to have high self-esteem. We practice self-respect when we honour our own needs, which can enhance our view of ourselves. We also provide validation of our own perspective by asserting our needs to others.
Have the ability to overcome negative thoughts:
Thoughts and beliefs, either positive or negative, can have a profound impact on our lives. Positive thoughts often lead to positive outcomes, whereas negative thoughts, can result in negative outcomes. Being assertive helps you to understand various types of negative thinking, and how to overcome those negative thoughts. It reminds you that you have the ability to accomplish things you want to when you put your minds to it.
Become better at listening to others:
Determining how you listen and interpret messages from others will enable you to better understand miscommunications when they occur. Your assertive behavior is great for both parties. If you communicate wisely, you have much more chance of creating a scenario whereby everyone is happy or satisfied.
Better at goal setting:
Being assertive allows you to set and reach your goals. Take the initiative and start to identify the things that you want now. Then, set goals so that you can achieve them. Once you’ve done this, you can tell your friends, clients or your colleagues exactly what it is that you need from them to help you to achieve these goals in a clear and confident way. And don’t forget to stick to your guns.
Be more authentic self
“Your voice isn’t only the sound that comes out of your mouth, it’s also the ability to express your emotions in an assertive way.”
~ Joanna Crosse.
Assertiveness is about being your genuine self. What you see is what you get. There is no hiding or pretending to be someone you are not. Being assertive means not shying away from saying that you disagree. Authenticity is about letting yourself be known and seen, revealing both the finished and unfinished parts of yourself. Assertive people walk out their true selves and live a life congruent with their belief system. Being authentic involves sharing your thoughts, feelings, desires, and dreams. It may involve a respectful confrontation as you stand up for yourself. Or it may mean that you allow yourself to be transparent about a painful area or struggle in your life. Assertiveness does not mean being perfect, but being brave enough to be real. It’s ok to be healthily annoyed (rather than angry) and to express negative emotions, but make sure that you have an honouring spirit towards others and do not infringe upon their rights.
Become more likable:
If assertiveness were selfish or aggressive, we would expect it to hurt our relationships. On the contrary, research shows that greater assertiveness actually improves our relationships, making them more harmonious and satisfying. Thus, good things happen when people express their needs directly to one another. People will know where they stand with you.
Less anxiety and depression:
Assertive people tend to have fewer conflicts in translates into much less stress in their lives and among team members. Social anxiety in particular improves with greater assertiveness; as we face our fear of upsetting others and let them know what we want and need, our fears diminish. In the process, we often discover that we don’t get the upset reaction we expected from the other person. Asking for what we need can also lead to greater need fulfillment, which can lift our spirits. We enjoy an enhanced sense of self-efficacy, boosting our view of ourselves and raising our mood.
Behaving assertively can help a lot in your profession. There are times when you are supposed to handle the situations being assertive. If you have acquired this skill, you can handle the situations in an appropriate manner. Being assertive is a core communication skill which is learnable like many other skills are. Being assertive means that you are capable of expressing yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view to get accepted while without being aggressive and respecting the feelings of others. Soon, I’ll write about HOW you can be more assertive, for now, just know that it is ok to assert yourself, to defend your own rights and that by doing so, there is great benefit to be had.
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