Posted by: Thixia | June 6, 2008





Reduce stress and communicate better through assertiveness


Being assertive is a core communication skill.  It means that you stand up for yourself, express yourself effectively, and prevent others from taking advantage of you.  Being assertive helps boost self-confidence and may help you win respect from others.  It can also help control stress and anger.


So if being assertive is so useful and healthy, why is it often so hard to achieve? And how can you become more assertive?



Understanding assertive communication


People develop different styles of communication based on their life experiences.  For many people, communication style becomes such an ingrained habit that they’re not even aware of how they’re communicating.  And they tend to stick to the same style even when it’s ineffective or harmful.



In the majority of situations, being assertive is most effective. 


Assertive communication revolves around mutual respect — giving and expecting respect. 

Assertiveness shows self-respect because it means that you stand up for your personal rights, protect your self-interests, and express your feelings, needs and ideas in a way that is honest and direct.

It’s not just what you say — your message — but how you say it that’s important.  If you communicate in a way that’s passive or aggressive, the content of your message may be completely lost because the people you are communicating with are too busy reacting to your delivery. 

Assertive communication gives you the best chance to deliver your message successfully.




Assertive Vs.  Passive Behaviour


Passive communication shows a lack of respect for your own rights.  It gives others the opportunity to disregard your wants and needs.  For instance, you say yes when a colleague asks you to take over a project while he or she goes on vacation, even though you’re already behind and this means you’ll have to work overtime and miss your daughter’s soccer game.  Or you routinely say something such as, “I’ll just go with whatever the group decides.” The message you communicate is that your thoughts and feelings aren’t as important as those of others.

You may tell yourself that behaving passively simply keeps the peace and prevents conflicts.  But what it really does is get in the way of authentic relationships.  And worse, it may cause you a lot of internal conflict because your needs and your family’s needs come second.  Your needs have to be met, if not your may become sick or have a relapse.  This internal conflict may lead to:





 Health issues such as high blood pressure

 Seething anger

 Feelings of victimization

 Passive-aggressive behaviour

 Secret desires to exact revenge




Assertive Vs.  Aggressive Behaviour


Aggression is assertiveness gone bad.  Aggressive people disregard the needs, feelings and opinions of others.  They may feel or act self-righteous or superior.  They may bully others, humiliate them, degrade them or even act physically threatening.


Aggression doesn’t foster mutual respect.  Instead, it indicates a desire for power and domination — winning at the other person’s expense.  Someone who’s aggressive may get too close to you, point his or her finger at you, yell, shove you, and tell you that your opinion doesn’t matter.



The Benefits Of Being Assertive


Assertive behaviour is useful on a daily basis in a variety of situations, including at home, at work, driving, running errands, and virtually any place where you interact with other people.


Being assertive offers many powerful benefits.  It moves you from being a passive player in your own life to directing and controlling your life.  When you’re passive, you allow others to violate your rights — to walk all over you, as the saying goes.



In contrast, behaving assertively can help you:


 Gain self-confidence

 Gain increased self-esteem

 Understand and recognize your own feelings

 Earn respect from others

 Improve communication

 Create win-win situations

 Improve your decision-making skills

 Create honest relationships

 Gain more job satisfaction


Some research studies suggest that being assertive also can help people cope better with many mental health problems, including depression, anorexia, bulimia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.


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