There seems to be some misunderstanding about what it means to be assertive. People say things like: “I think I / he / she might be too assertive”. Let me clarify… there is no such thing as “too assertive”. The correct term for this method of communication is “aggressive”.
How you communicate with others, whether it be family, friends, colleagues, subordinates at work or strangers, is somewhere on a continuum. The passive (red) zone is at the one end, with the aggressive (blue) zone being at the other end, and the assertive (purple) zone is in the middle.
I refer to this article as the “power” of being assertive because it is in this middle zone that your communication is the most powerful. I say this because when you are assertive the following happens:
- You say what you want to say, not what others want to hear.
- You respect and stand up for your rights.
- You respect the rights of others.
- You can say “NO” without feeling guilty.
- You can accept and apologise when you’re wrong.
- You can get what you want and deserve.
- You are respected by others.
- You are confident and self-assured.
- You are able to disagree.
- You are able to give and receive criticism constructively.
If you are prone to either the passive or the aggressive style, you will not be able to relate to all of the above and may want to consider trying to adjust how you communicate and interact with others.
There is another misconception about being assertive, which is usually taken by those that are more prone to an aggressive communication style, and that is that it is a sign of weakness. This is particularly problematic in the work environment where some people try to bulldoze others. If you have a colleague or a boss who demonstrates this style you will know exactly what I’m talking about.
A little further clarification about the difference between the three styles:
- Do you feel that people take advantage of you, even bully you? And does this make you feel anxious?
- Do you feel disliked, mistrusted and avoided by people? And does this make you feel angry?
- Or do you feel listened to, liked and respected? And does this make you feel relaxed?
If number 3 resonates with you then you are probably an assertive communicator. If however, number 1 or 2 resonate more with you, then you are probably more of a passive or aggressive communicator respectively.
I strongly believe that if everyone communicated assertively we would live in a far more harmonious and productive society. I think that many people lack insight into how their style of communication might be affecting those around them, especially at work. The good news is that assertiveness can be learned and this is why I have recently added The Power of being Assertive to my repertoire of mental health workshops and webinars, so please take a look at my website if you think that this might be something that you, any of your “significant others”, or your organization could benefit from.
The next webinar for general public attendance is on Friday 20th November at 09h00 and will be hosted by Innovation Advance. Have a look at this link to see more: https://innovationadvance.co.za/power-of-being-assertive/ .
Take care everyone.