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Assertiveness is defined as upholding one’s own integrity and dignity whilst at the same time encouraging and recognising this behaviour in others.
Click here to take the assertiveness test and find out if you are Assertive, Submissive or Agressive
In assertiveness we balance the needs of others with our own. We treat others as we wish to be treated. When necessary we can choose whether to give priority to the needs of others or choose to give greater consideration to our own needs.
SUBMISSIVE/NON-ASSERTIVE : When we put all the needs of others before our own
AGGRESSIVE : When we put personal needs before those of others
ASSERTIVE : When we balance our needs and those of others and act according to the priorities as we see them
The non-assertive person:
● Is reluctant to express own opinions, and particularly, feelings
● Often feels used by others
● Keeps quiet when others take advantage
● Refrains from complaining when services or products are not up to standard
● Finds it difficult to refuse the requests of others for time or resources
● Acquiesces in the views and desires of the majority even though these conflict with personal wishes
● Frequently makes compromises in the interests of harmony
● Is unwilling to inconvenience people for the things he or she wants
● Is submissive in the presence of aggressive behaviour
● Prefers to keep own views private
Reasons we give ourselves:
Fear of upsetting others
There is a myth in interpersonal relations that goes like this. If you sacrifice enough, work hard enough, care enough, forgive enough, other people will give you their approval. It gets worse. If you don’t gain their approval it is because you are not giving up enough, working hard enough, caring enough, etc.
Fear of rejection
This is the extreme version of fear of upsetting others. If we upset someone by asking for what we want, we fear they will withdraw their regard for us and reject us altogether
Feeling responsible for the other person
There is a real difference between hurting someone and someone feeling hurt. You are not responsible for their feelings; if they ‘feel’ hurt because of a reasonable need that you have, then that is their choice.
This is totally different from a situation where, through aggressive behaviour, you hurt someone by abusing their rights, taking deliberate advantage or by not respecting them as a person.
Inappropriate inner voices
This occurs when the rules by which we live have been determined by others, usually during childhood, and we still operate by them.
The aggressive person:
● Frequently argues with others
● Frequently gets angry and thinks that others need to be put in their place
● Has no difficulty in complaining when receiving poor quality products or services
● Usually gets own way in situations
● Expects others to accommodate own time schedules
● Has strong views on many subjects and has no difficulty in expressing them
● Easily and frequently finds fault with others
● Continually works to personal agendas at the expense of others
● Rarely feels aware of the needs or feelings of others
● Competes with others and is angry if not successful
Aggressive individuals are essentially selfish. They know what they want and like, and disregard the needs of others in satisfying their own needs.
Aggressive people think of themselves as superior beings. They think they are OK and the rest of the world is not. They voice their opinions and needs, and behave as if others do not matter.
The origin for aggressive behaviour is complex. Perhaps as small children aggressive people discovered they could get what they wanted, and subsequently developed behaviour around this inappropriate, albeit successful, behaviour. Sometimes aggressive behaviour is an over-correction of being too passive, or it could be an inappropriate way of dealing with anger.
The assertive person:
● Is able to express desires and feelings to others
● Is able to converse and work well with people at all levels
● Is able to appreciate the views of others and accept any that appear more reasonable than their own
● Is able to disagree with someone yet retain their friendship and respect
● Is aware of the needs and desires of others
● Is able to make concessions to others without feelings of inadequacy
● Is able to express a concern or a need with minimum embarrassment to both parties
● Is able to control feelings and emotions even in difficult or emotionally charged situations
● Is able to refuse a request without feeling guilty or obliged
● Is able to ask for what he or she wants and can insist on legal entitlements without becoming emotional Psychological advantages of Assertive behavior
● You can put limits on your own behaviour and that of others
● You can enjoy a realistic outlook on what is possible for you and what is not
● You are not adversely affected by rude or impolite people
● You are able to rejoice at your successes and accept your failings
● You can always be in control of your own behaviour and not be pushed into a rage or forced into submission