Being assertive means respecting yourself and other people; seeing people as equal to you, not better than you or less important than you. The goal of assertive behaviour is to stand up for your rights in such a way that you do not violate another person’s rights. It is achieved through open, direct and honest communication, while valuing respecting and listening to others.
Some schools of thought describe a continuum from passive to aggressive behaviour with assertiveness somewhere in the middle. We believe that assertiveness is completely different from aggression.
When there is aggression we are potentially creating, or being in, a fight. If the aggression is physical, it is violence. But even withdrawal from another person, if it has the energy of a fight, can still be experienced as aggression (albeit passive aggression). When we are being assertive we are able to speak up and give our opinions, or ask for what we want in a way that does not result in the other person getting defensive (because there is no fight).
We once met someone who went on an assertiveness course and then complained that she still couldn’t make people do what she wanted.
Express yourself in sentences such as
‘I would like X to happen so that Y results’ (where Y is a well formed outcome)
or ‘When you do A, I feel B’
For example, “When you shout an order at me, I feel upset and put down and that affects negatively how I work. I would like you speak to me properly with a normal tone so that I can do my job better.”
not ‘When you do A you make me feel B’.
No matter how much someone tries to provoke us, or plead with us, they cannot make us feel anything. Ultimately we decided we were going to respond by being angry or sad, or acting hurt, or feeling small. It wasn’t caused by the other person.
> A short piece about well-formed outcomes
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2015 Jeremy Marchant Limited . uploaded 29 may 2015 . image: freedigitalphotos.net