Being assertive takes control of you; your mind, your feelings, your guilt, your stress, your disappointment in yourself, your time and a whole lot more. Being assertive is a skill that comes naturally to some but not to all. It’s a trait and skill that can get you far in life, when balanced evenly. However, if not kept in check, assertiveness can come across as abrasive, rude, or even mean or aggressive.
This blog will explore the topic of assertiveness and cover what it means to be assertive, how to become more assertive, and how to keep that assertiveness in check.
Please be sure to download ASSERTIVE Rights [pdf] to review for yourself and teach to your kids.
What does it mean to be assertive?
According to The Better Health Channel, “Being assertive means being direct about what you need, want, feel, or believe in a way that’s respectful of the views of others.” Being assertive can offer many benefits to almost every area of your life, when kept in balance.
For example, when you’re more assertive in the workplace, you show your superiors that you have the qualities required of a leader and the confidence necessary to go for what you need or want.
In your relationship, being assertive has a whole slew of benefits.
First off, it can help you have the confidence to ask questions or meet someone new. Secondarily, assertiveness allows you to identify and be clear about what you want and need in the relationship, improving communication between you, your partner and your kids, ensuring a healthy relationship and a stronger, more cooperative family unit.
What can you do to be more assertive?
The first thing you have to do when trying to be more assertive is to make the decision to positively assert your views and yourself and commit to it. It’s not enough just to think about trying to be more assertive in situations, like when you think about how you really should work out more while you’re eating dessert. You have to commit to it.
The next step is improving your communication and listening skills. These two skills are crucial in assertiveness. You need to communicate openly and honestly with a respect for those with whom you’re speaking. In addition to that, you have to become an active listener.
Pay close attention to what people say to you, try to understand their perspective and don’t interrupt. The key to having the right balance in your assertiveness is to respect others and allow them the space to be assertive, as well. It should be a two-way street with each having a right to their thoughts and opinions. At that time, the conversation will become a discussion and not a lecture.
Lastly, in the actual practice of assertiveness, you want to stay calm, avoid guilt tripping, and use what is referred to as “I” statements. “I” statements (I think, I feel, I know) are much more assertive and more constructive than “you” statements (you never, you always), which tend to be more harmful. This is vitally important when speaking to your children. Avoid saying “Mommy wants you to do this…”, “Daddy will not allow you to hit…”, “Mommy would like to hear more…”, instead say, “I need you to do this…”, “I will not allow you to hit…”, “I am excited to hear more…”. This is more direct and to the point and allows the child to know who you are referencing and that these thoughts are your thoughts. It empowers your children to do the same.
How can you keep your assertiveness in check?
There’s a fine line between positive assertiveness and abrasive rudeness. A good way to keep yourself in check and ensure you aren’t toeing that line is to be observant, not just of yourself but of those around you.
Take time throughout your day to reflect on yourself, your behavior, your words and your choices. Watch how others behave around you; if your loved ones seem uncomfortable with your behavior or put off by your attitude, you should examine your assertiveness and maybe make some adjustments.
Being assertive can get you far in life, but there’s a fine line between being positively assertive and being rude. Teaching your children to also be assertive without being rude or demanding will also help them to have the confidence they need and speak up and stand up for themselves when they need to. If you keep yourself in check when working on your assertiveness and create a good balance, you can go further and be happier in your life and be a great role model for your kids. Assertiveness can lead to healthier relationships, cooperation and a more positive self-image for all.
Keep practicing your assertiveness and talking to your kids about being assertive as well. Review and read ASSERTIVE Rights [pdf] that accompanies this blog. This will help them when they need to stand up for themselves in social situations, school or when dealing with times that they need to go with their heart and not be swayed by peer pressure.
Assertiveness is an important quality for us all. Model it correctly and talk about it with your kids. Role-play different scenarios to help them learn the difference of being assertive and being rude. This character trait will help everyone as they continue to grow and create a strong foundation for your family.