The term "assertive" has a lot of suppositions around it. Sometimes people associate it with being rude or too direct. Assertiveness has an entirely different meaning. Being assertive is a crucial trait that can help you manage yourself better, as well as other people and situations. You can use it to influence someone to accept, agree with, or modify their behavior. It is the capacity to confidently and positively communicate your thoughts. People that are assertive have self-control and are truthful with others and with themselves.
Being Assertive v/s Being Aggressive
There’s a huge difference between being assertive and being aggressive. As these terms can be easily interchanged, it’s necessary to understand their meanings. Being aggressive is mostly categorized as negative behavior. Aggressive people frequently adopt a demanding demeanor and engage in dominating because they must succeed at all costs. They may project an air of superiority, fear, and even physical danger.
Aggressive behaviors lead to damaged relationships in the long term. Having a heated conversation can be a frightening or disturbing experience, and the recipient may wonder what caused the violent behavior or what they did to deserve it. It is possible for people to manipulate others into fulfilling their goals and desires if ideas and feelings are not expressed clearly. Humor can also be used violently, and manipulation can be perceived as a disguised kind of aggressiveness.
Being Assertive v/s Being Passive
Passive people don't express themselves. They don't voice their wants or thoughts. They don't participate actively and let others make decisions for them. They are typically lonely and indifferent to others. In contrast to an aggressive individual, a passive person suppresses one's anger instead of outwardly expressing it. They lack confidence, which makes them vulnerable to maltreatment from others. Another distinguishing trait of them is that they prefer to avoid confronting situations or problems.
The above picture represents how distinct these behaviors are from one another.
Characteristics of Assertive Behavior
They respect others' opinions.
They are honest.
They put up their point in a firm but polite manner.
They are confident.
They understand and value themselves.
They draw healthy boundaries.
They honor what they have to say.
They are good listeners.
They take accountability for their actions.
How can I be more Assertive?
There are a lot of ways in which you can be assertive and meet your needs. Here are a few to start with:
Tweak the way you communicate: Being assertive is a lot to do about the way you communicate with people. It shows the way you communicate your needs and the way you want people to perceive you. Make sure your words, body language, and tone are consistent by paying attention to both your body language and what you say. Never assume that others can read your mind; instead, be vocal about your needs and complaints. When requesting something or expressing a preference, appear assured. Lean in slightly, stand up straight, smile or maintain a neutral expression, and maintain eye contact with the other person in communication.
Learn to draw healthy boundaries: We all have different relationships with different people in our lives. Some people are close to us, some people work with us, some people are acquaintances, and so on. Our dynamic frequency is different with each one of them. The limitations and guidelines you set for yourself let you select what you will and won't allow. These are your boundaries. You don't want others to take advantage of you, but you also don't want them to perceive you as a bully. You'll get the ability to discern when you should say yes and when you should say no by setting boundaries.
Saying “No” when you actually want to: In an effort to please others, people frequently find it difficult to say "no," even when doing so would cause them inconvenience. Helping others makes individuals feel good, whether it's doing a coworker's extra work or watching a friend's dog. However, it's critical to understand when living your own life must come before helping someone else. Simply say no if you already have a lot on your plate and are unable to take on more at this time. It's a liberating experience, and you may offer assistance when it's more convenient for you.
Respect other’s point of view: The capacity to express your needs while also taking into account other people's wants is a crucial component of assertiveness. Because they have empathy and respect for other people's thoughts and perspectives, assertive people are successful negotiators. Aggressive people, on the other hand, demand their needs be met without concern for anyone else. Respecting the person you are speaking to will frequently result in a cooperative solution and a situation where everyone wins and gets what they need.
Stop Guilt-tripping: When we do something wrong, we feel guilty; not when someone else claims (or suggests) that we did something wrong. Many of us find it difficult to be aggressive because we are concerned about how terrible we will feel if we don't comply with what other people want, especially those of us who communicate more passively. They have a hard time telling the difference between real remorse and phony guilt, which is a classic trap that many people who struggle to be aggressive fall into. Improve your ability to distinguish between these two types of guilt. When you feel guilty, stop and consider: Have I really done something wrong? Then, work on developing resilience to the discomfort of that faux guilt, which is typically expressed as some kind of fear or grief.
Speaking firmly demonstrates your self-confidence. Being more assertive is a first step to becoming the best version of yourself and the person you want to be.
Hope you found this article helpful. If you or your organization is interested to learn more about such attributes and behavioral skills at the workplace, feel free to get in touch with us at RGB Training Services!