Define Assertive -
What does it mean to be assertive? By definition the word assertive means to affirm with confidence and assurance one’s position in defense or in order to move oneself forward boldly. This definition as listed in the dictionary explains a form of assertiveness that leans more towards aggressive, which does not accurately describe the meaning of what I am attempting to explain as a true assertive response style. So then what is true or “pure” assertiveness and how can I develop it is the question. Now, for the answers.
ASSERTIVE = “I accept that I am angry,” and “I accept that you did something to anger me”
The Assertive Type
The assertive response style as listed in the above description claims a dual-acceptance of self and others. This is the critical point of “pure” assertiveness. True assertive people accept or acknowledge anger within them, and all of the underlying hurt and/or fear that takes place along with it. In addition, an assertive person will honor another human being as having significance as well at the point of conflict, and will affirm their own position of defense not with hostility or disrespect, but with direction, care, and understanding of boundaries. This means that a person can in fact state their position without injuring or disrespecting others. Please note, the purpose of assertiveness is not to be a doormat, nor is it to be used to overpower another.
The primary purpose of being assertive is to state one’s needs with honor and validation of another human being’s needs without assimilation or rejection. In other words, sometimes we must “agree to disagree” and can remain honorable in the process without bullying or being bullied.
A colleague is given extra work that was in effect dumped on her by another colleague’s lack of responsibility in addressing this work. In response to this action, she addresses the colleague by informing her that she does not have time to add this work into her own workload, and then gives her the opportunity to engage in questions to gain helpful information. If this is not effective in getting her point across, she then informs their supervisor that she is being treated in an unfair manner without guilt or irrational fear.
A student who is having difficulty understanding the material being taught to him in class due to another student’s disruptive behavior. He then addresses the professor after class to ask for help in obtaining the information better through further explanation without any attempt at manipulation, while also stating his ground as being allowed to address the class as a whole without fear of intimidation or retribution.
Assertiveness Breeds Confidence
By and large, assertiveness is a developed process in which a person either becomes more vocal in responding to anger and less aggressive in getting their point across. An assertive person is open to solution-based suggestions and negotiations, and will validate another person without ever feeling “beaten,” and thus, has a high level of self-esteem and good communication skills in interpersonal relationships.
Be on the lookout for more Assertive Awareness topics and discussion in upcoming blog posts, and please note that any input, questions, comments, or concerns are welcome and encouraged!