Assertiveness: the characteristic of being fully yourself“When you say YES to others, make sure you don’t say No to yourself”. – Paulo Coelho
What does it mean to be assertive? The word assertiveness derives from the verb to assert: to affirm one’s emotions, ideas and opinions clearly and effectively. Being assertive means being free and more and more equal to yourself. It means following one’s internal needs and knowing how to communicate them to the other.
To achieve our goals we must stick to our values and thoughts. If we lie and hide over time we can experience frustration, anxiety, depression and somatic symptoms. The assertive person has a responsible attitude, makes their own choices and expresses their differences with responsibility; he also has the ability to communicate what he feels with the outside world, without attacking the other or being subjected.
Assertiveness and communication styles
In ourselves and in the people we interact with, we can distinguish 3 communication styles:
Who has a passive behavior , tends to put the needs of others in the foreground, sacrificing himself for others; in particular those who adopt a passive style:
- He has a hard time saying no
- He takes responsibilities that do not belong to him
- The others suffer
- Has difficulty making requests and asking for help
- Has difficulty expressing what he thinks, what feelings he feels, what emotions he experiences (especially negative ones such as anger, sadness)
- It depends on the judgment of others
- Has difficulty making decisions
- He is afraid of making mistakes
- It needs the approval of others.
In aggressive behavior tend to create tension, conflict and often the individual with aggressive style is removed, because impetuous and unreliable. Who adopts an aggressive communication style:
- It has a strong stiffness, hardly changes your mind
- He tends to decide for others
- He doesn’t apologize
- He does not listen to the other when he speaks
- He tends to manipulate
- Judge and criticize the other
- He has little faith in the other.
At the heart of these two opposite poles is assertiveness. The assertive person believes that his own needs have the same value as the other’s needs, that they are therefore equal Assertive people manage to pursue and achieve success because they are collaborative and cooperative and are consequently more sought after than others. They are also constructive and non-destructive people , because they don’t crush anyone to achieve their goals and they are not social climbers.
Those who are assertive get in touch with their needs and become more and more themselves. Despite not making convenient choices, he is a successful person, as he manages to remain faithful to his being, even if he is against everyone and even in the most difficult situations. The assertive person is not a super hero, in fact it is extremely difficult to be assertive in all areas of life.
They all have the same value
There are 5 fields in which you can be more or less assertive: Work / study, Family, Friendship and Love.
You cannot be assertive in all areas and in the same way. Also, being assertive doesn’t necessarily mean being able to say the right things at the right time… but it does mean thinking the right thing . Thinking what is constructive and functional, for oneself and for interpersonal relationships. Remembering that for the assertive person, their own and other people’s needs have the same value!
Assertiveness is first of all a mental attitude that is reflected in an emotional state and which translates into a behavior, the communicative style. We start from the idea and the thought that everyone has the same value , we are honest with ourselves and we communicate what we have inside.
How to develop assertiveness
Like any skill, assertiveness can also be learned. To learn to be assertive, you need to train and exercise, each of us can decide to always change, throughout the course of his life; it’s never too late to improve and take care of the ways in which we interface with each other.
In particular, the fundamental steps to start practicing assertiveness are the following:
- Knowing how to distinguish the type of communication style one has and in which fields of life they apply.
- Knowing the causes and behavioral patterns that are put in place, recognizing their patterns can then be improved.
- Learn about our rights and those of others to implement change
- Observe your own behavioral patterns in daily life
You start with the simplest situations to train yourself to be more assertive.Image source: www.studiosanavio.net
An example? You can start from the phone call to order pizza! In what state of mind do you get on the phone? How is the order executed…? After analyzing the simpler interactions, you can then move on to more complex situations, such as dealing with a manipulative boss. Are we always on the defensive when we talk? How do interactions take place? (…).
Why aren’t you assertive?
Assertiveness and conditioning
What is the reason we are not assertive? We have difficulty in being assertive because of conditioning, in particular that of not being accepted , loved, and it is also very linked to social expectations , starting from the difference in gender; even on the basis of our gender we are forced to wear a mask and lie in order not to disappoint the expectations to which society subjects us.
Another conditioning that greatly affects our being (or not being ) assertive is also the way we grew up , the family we had, the history and experiences we lived.
What we must do is learn to recognize our individual rights and respect them , supporting them with a consistent behavior, never submit to the expectations of the other at the expense of our needs, as our well-being is at stake. Rights are, in fact, one of the basic concepts in assertiveness!
Smith’s 10 Affirmative Rights
- You have the right to be your own judge
- You have the right not to justify your behavior by giving others explanations or excuses
- You have the right to evaluate and decide whether to take charge of finding a solution to the problems of others
- You have the right to change your mind
- You have the right to make mistakes by accepting that you are responsible for them
- You have the right to say “I don’t know”
- You have the right to feel free from the approval of the people you enter into a relationship with
- You have a right to appear illogical in making decisions
- You have the right to say “I don’t understand”
- You have the right not to be perfect
Each of us is free to decide to change. We are not our past but we are what we decide to be today; basking in what has been and in our past brings nothing but victimhood, passivity and a hopeless future.
Assertiveness and therefore freedom is reached only when, after having understood it and having worked on it with training and exercise, you decide to act, first of all regaining possession of the strength of our ego: “I feel ..”, “I want. .” , “I think..”.
Those who are assertive live better, have less anxiety and develop healthy relationships, so I would say that it is convenient to learn to be, first of all for our well-being!
Behaving assertively means balancing the needs of others with your own. – Edoardo Giusti