*What is assertiveness?
*What is the difference between being assertive, aggressive and avoiding a situation?
Assertiveness is expressing your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a direct, honest, and appropriate way. It means showing
respect both for yourself and for others. When you're being assertive, you consciously work toward a "win-win" solution
to problems. A win-win solution means trying to make sure that both parties end up with at least some of their needs met.
When you're assertive, you effectively listen and negotiate so that others choose to cooperate willingly.
Assertiveness is not aggressive...
When you're being aggressive, you express your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a pushy, forcing way that is inappropriate
and violates others' rights. It can be either active ("You're stupid!" or "Do as I say!" or physical violence are examples)
or passive (using guilt or helplessness to pressure you). Either way, aggressiveness communicates an impression of disrespect.
When you're aggressive you put your wants, needs, and rights above everyone else's. You attempt to get your way
by not allowing others a choice. Where assertiveness tried to find a win-win solution, aggressiveness strives for a win-lose
solution: I'll be the winner and you'll be the loser.
Assertiveness is not avoidance.
Nonassertive behavior is passive and indirect. It permits others to violate your rights and shows a lack of respect for
your needs. It communicates a message of inferiority. It creates a lose-win situation because when you're nonassertive,
you give the other person the message that your needs aren't important and places you in a victim perspective.
To be assertive...
USE "I" MESSAGES
An "I" message is a good way to claim your feelings while letting people know what you're thinking. It is made up of three
- Behavior -- exactly what the other person has done or is doing
- Effect -- what is happening because of their behavior
- Feelings -- what effect their behavior has on your feelings
this kind of message, you are giving another person complete information, leaving no room for second guessing or doubt, but
owning your feelings.
Example: "You're late to the meeting (behavior). I feel angry (owning your feeling) because now I have to repeat information
the rest of the group has already heard (effect)."
This is much more productive and assertive than simply ignoring the problem and then stewing about it, or expressing your
anger or frustration in a putdown and disrespectful way.
If you like, you can also add something like..."Please try to be on time out of respect for us and also so you don't miss
out on important information. Let's continue." (Now you can go on with the presentation or meeting, having dealt with the
Copyright 2005, Carolyn Chambers Clark