It is not uncommon for people to describe how they may have wished they had dealt with a situation differently — whether they feel as though they may have let someone take advantage of them or on the flip side, they may feel they reacted too aggressively. It is times like these when utilizing assertive behaviours to deal with not only day to day issues, but also perhaps stressful or uncomfortable situations, is usually most beneficial.
The easiest way I like to describe assertiveness is learning to find the balance between being passive or aggressive. It’s that middle ground where you wish to communicate your point without intentionally hurting others. An assertive person expresses his/her opinions, needs and feelings without ignoring the opinions, needs or feelings of others. In contrast, aggressive people react to their emotion and attack or ignore others’ opinions in favour of their own, while passive people don’t state their opinion at all.
For different people, depending on the situation, they may feel more or less confident in using assertiveness skills. These situations could include dealing with a boss or senior figure at work, family, friends, and authority figures, or even as customers. No matter the situation though, if you learn how to incorporate more assertive behaviours, it should help you be able to feel in charge of your own behaviour with a method and specific goal in mind for a given situation.
Here are some common ASSERTIVE Behaviours you can start including in your daily life to help build on your assertiveness:
- keeping good eye contact
- maintaining a relaxed posture that says you are open to what is being said
- maintaining an expression that goes along with the message that you want to deliver
- using a conversational tone
- speaking openly and to the point – start, change or end a conversation – address issues that bother you
- make requests and ask favours – refuse a request if you don’t want to do it
- expressing positive and negative emotion as well as honest thoughts and feelings
- reaching goals without hurting others in process
My challenge to you now, is to try the above behaviours throughout the next couple of days; as a customer, with your boss, with family and friends. See if you can notice not only how you may have acted differently, but also how the other person responded and how you felt afterwards. Did you reach your goal? If you did, you are definitely working towards finding the balance of assertiveness!