What is assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a communication style. Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions in an open manner that is clear and respects your own needs and the needs of others.
On the assertiveness scale, in the middle we have assertive communication and behaviour. Then at one end we have passive communication where people struggle to express themselves clearly. At the other end we have an aggressive style of communication. Sometimes we ricochet between passive and aggressive behaviour. Not being able to express what we are feeling or thinking, or what our needs are, breeds resentment and frustration and then we can erupt and have those “what about me” moments!
You have probably also heard of passive-aggressive behaviour. This is where someone is essentially being aggressive but in a passive or indirect way. For example, someone may be angry but they don’t act in an overtly aggressive way by yelling or hitting or in an assertive way by being clear about what is upsetting them, instead they may sulk or slam a door but still giving others the message that they are not happy!
How to develop Assertiveness Skills?
Learning to be more assertive involves developing self-awareness and communication skills to be more comfortable expressing what we are thinking, feeling, or what our needs are. It also involves identifying and exploring the reasons why we may struggle to express ourselves easily. These can include unhelpful beliefs about ourselves, low self-esteem and confidence, fear of conflict, prioritizing the needs of others, trying to keep everyone else happy, or a habit that has developed over time.
Being more assertive will not guarantee that our needs will be met or people will listen but it sure increases the chances. It is also a skill that contributes to developing confidence and leading a more enriching and happy life.
If you would like to develop your communication skills and express yourself in a more confident way contacting LB Psychologists may be the first step in that direction.