Being assertive can get you far in life, and learning more about assertiveness training is a big step in that direction.
Assertive people have healthier relationships, better self-esteem, and do better in their jobs.
If this isn’t you, and you feel you are allowing yourself to be walked over, read on to learn how to improve this vital aspect of your life!
What Is Assertiveness?
Simply put, being assertive means being confident, forceful, and standing up for one’s rights.
Someone assertive will be able to express their opinions openly and with confidence.
However, this differs from aggressiveness, as an assertive person will advocate for themselves while still accounting for others’ feelings and needs.
Assertive Behavior Vs Assertive Personality
For some, assertiveness is a personality trait. Acting assertively comes naturally.
However, those without assertive personalities can still act in assertive ways. This will take conscious effort and will be more difficult for some than others.
Assertive vs. Passive
Passivity is the opposite of being assertive.
A passive person will opt to keep their feelings or opinions to themselves, often much to their detriment. They will often be the ones to go along with what the group decides.
Avoiding conflict tends to be the main goal of a passive person.
Passive behavior can lead to a person not valuing themselves, as they are putting others’ needs before their own. This can lead to:
- Feeling victimized
- Desire for revenge
The Benefits of Being Assertive
Being assertive is viewed as a positive communication style. It can help in the following ways:
- Limiting other’s ability to take advantage of you
- Improved self-confidence
- Respect from others
- Forming of healthier relationships
- Allowing someone to understand their feelings
- Being empowered
- Better communication
- Better job outcomes
- Better decision making
- Balanced situations where both parties win
The Risks of Being Assertive
When being assertive properly, there should be no issues. However, the risk is going too far and crossing into ‘aggressive’ territory.
This is when you stop listening to others’ opinions, alienating them and damaging relationships as a result.
Other risks include:
- Being seen as rude if not conveyed properly
- Appearing arrogant
- Seen as overconfident
- Some people will be uncomfortable with directness
What Is Assertiveness Training?
Assertiveness training can provide individuals with skills and practice to act more assertively.
Often, this training is used for people suffering from anxiety, depression, or anger issues.
However, it can also be used by those that want to improve their communication skills and gain the many benefits of being more assertive.
Working with a therapist, the client will figure out the skills they need to work on.
The therapist will assist the client in figuring out the cause of the issue that led them to feel unable to assert themselves.
They will then work to change some of the client’s beliefs about themselves, their value, and their abilities.
Therapists will often use interviews, tests, or role-playing exercises to get to the root of the problem.
They will then explain to the client the benefits of being assertive, and explain what assertive behavior is and isn’t.
Next, the therapist will work with the client on how they can be more assertive. Role-play exercises may be a part of the process.
They will work on both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. The therapist will support the client, and give them constant feedback throughout the process.
What Does Assertiveness Training Encourage?
Assertiveness training teaches its students that they have the right to express themselves.
It encourages students to share their opinions, feelings, and needs in a way that is still respectful of others.
How to Get Assertiveness Training
Some people will choose to self-guide their journey by reading books about being more assertive.
However, the best way to become more assertive is to work with a therapist that can guide you through the process, especially if you are suffering from any feelings of depression or anxiety.
This is the best way to make positive, lasting changes.
It’s important to find a therapist or counselor who is an expert in this area and has training and experience with assertiveness training.
You can talk to your doctor about a referral, or contact the referral office of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Their website is www.abct.org, or you can also call (212) 647-1890. They will be able to refer you to a therapist in your area.
How to Be Assertive: Tips, Tricks, and Habits To Practice
Get a Complete Grasp on Assertiveness and What it is
Before getting started, it’s essential to fully understand what assertiveness is and isn’t.
It can easily slip into aggression. Replacing passiveness with aggression is moving from one negative communication style to another! This will not help you to improve relationships.
Keep your Communication Style in Check
It’s very helpful to understand your communication style before you get started.
If you recognize your issue is keeping silent, recognize when you are doing that so that you can change the situation the next time the opportunity arises to speak up.
Exercise the power of “I”
Practice using the word ‘I’ more.
Starting with ‘I’ rather than ‘you’ will help you to sound assertive rather than aggressive.
For example, ‘I disagree‘ rather than ‘You are wrong‘ can significantly change the conversation’s direction.
“No” is a Complete Sentence
Passive people will often try to over explain why they can’t do something. Instead, simply say, “No, I can’t do that.”
This stronger statement tells people it is not up for negotiation. It can be empowering to be more firm and direct.
It’s normal to feel frustrated and angry during conflict. It’s important to practice acting calmly in these situations- which will be an effort at first, but with time will come more naturally.
Work on slowing your breathing and speaking firmly and evenly.
Speak Simply and Directly
Avoid the desire to over-explain your feelings or needs. People tend to do this when they feel their feelings won’t be seen as important or valid.
When you find yourself doing this, stop! Tell yourself your opinion is as valuable as anyone else’s and doesn’t require more explanation.
If someone continues not to listen or to undermine you, cut that relationship off.
If it is someone close to you, like a parent, leave the conversation every time they belittle or talk over you.
Start small, and work your way up!
Practice being assertive with those you are most comfortable with. Look for low-risk situations in which you can be assertive with little consequence, such as strangers that don’t know your history and you won’t see again.
Try it with someone assisting you in a store or at a coffee shop. It’s the perfect opportunity to be direct and tell someone what you want.
Use Non-Verbal Assertiveness
It isn’t only about what you say, but body language is important as well.
Eye contact, standing up straight, and not crossing your arms can all make you appear more confident and assertive.
Changing a whole personality trait will take time and effort. Be patient with the process and understand that it will be difficult and scary at first.
Assertiveness training can be a great help. Think of it as a valuable investment in your future happiness and relationships!
Being assertive is a great way to ensure you get your fair share in life. If you struggle with this, fixing the issue should be a priority.
Thanks for reading!
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