One of the challenges around assertiveness is that people seem to be unsure what it really is.
It often appears that we live in a world of extremes; good and evil, left wing/right wing politics etc.
Under this model then, if you are not being passive or non-assertive you must be being aggressive. We all need a reminder that, whilst passivity and aggressive behaviour are polar opposites, there is a third alternative called assertiveness which is neither passive nor aggressive.
Passive behaviour stems from a set of beliefs that suggest that others have more rights than you and that their rights are more important.
Aggressive behaviour stems from a belief system that claims that your rights are more valid, more important, than everyone else’s.
Assertiveness requires a different mindset where you have rights and so do the other people you deal with. You have the right to say no, to challenge, to change your mind, to make mistakes, to ask for clarification, to set boundaries. And so do others.
Assertiveness is a set of learned behaviours that allow you to express your rights whilst honouring the rights of others. Assertiveness comes from a place of internal strength but emotional neutrality. You can state your opinions, wants and needs clearly and assertively without shouting, using strong language or going red in the face. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, brevity and silence are two key tools of the trade for the budding assertive person.
Assertive behaviour is a choice that we could all learn to make more often.