The benefits of being assertive

Generally speaking an individual who communicates assertively:
* feels empowered
* does not feel that they are unjustly controlled by others
* projects dignity and calmness in their dealings with other people
* are proactive. They make things happen, rather than reacting or responding to the words and actions of others
* know their own rights and responsibilities when they deal with others
* avoid apologetic dialogue or submissive language and tone
* are able to resist the aggressive, manipulative and passive ploys of other people (Downing, 1995).

Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings, opinions, beliefs and needs directly, openly and honestly, assert one’s rights whilst respecting the feelings and rights of another (Lloyd, 1998). Non-assertive individuals may be passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive.

Passive people appear to be unconcerned with their own rights and are more likely to allow others to infringe on their rights than to stand up and speak out (McBride, 1998).

Instances of passive-aggression (or indirect anger expressions) are attempts at covert sabotage.
On the other hand, overtly aggressive people are likely to defend their own rights and work to achieve their own goals. They are likely to disregard the rights of others. Additionally, aggressive individuals insist that their feelings and needs take precedence over other’s (Shelton & Burton,1994).

Assertive communication demands the use of direct, honest and appropriate expression of personal opinions, needs or desires.
By communicating assertively, it is more likely to achieve the purpose of the communication. Using more forceful strategies such as verbal attack or harsh criticism ignites negative responses from others and may cause relationship tension.

Put simply, assertiveness is learning how to “get what you want from others by not infringing on their or the other person’s rights.” (Shelton & Burton, 1994).

How Does Assertiveness Compare to Other Behaviour?

“People can often confuse aggressiveness with assertiveness, because both types of behavior involve standing up for one’s rights and expressing one’s needs.
The main difference between the two communication styles is that individuals behaving assertively will express themselves in ways that respect the other person. They assume the best about people, respect themselves, and think “win-win” and try to compromise. In contrast, individuals behaving aggressively will tend to employ tactics that are disrespectful, manipulative, demeaning, or abusive. They make negative assumptions about the motives of others and think in retaliatory terms, or they don’t think of the other person’s point of view at all. They win at the expense of others, and create unnecessary conflict” (Impact Factory, 2006).

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