Being assertive is being able to stand up for yourself and no longer being treated like a doormat by other people.
Dealing with fears of Assertion
- Overcome the fear of not being liked - accept the reality that not all people would like your opinions, beliefs and behaviour.
- Overcome the fear of being rejected - in order to build a higher resistance to feeling anxious about rejection, you need to expose yourself to it. If you think rationally about rejection, this exposure will give you a higher immunity and tolerance to rejection and inhibits you from disturbing yourself about it.
- Overcome the fear of being selfish.
- Overcome the fear of hurting or upsetting others.
- Overcome the idea that others know what you want: Others can't read your mind. If you speak up there is more of a chance that your desires will be met.
- Overcome the idea that you must have an easy life: It takes work, and lots of it, to be consistently heard and for others to respect you.
- Overcome the urge to keep your feelings to yourself: Being human means that you will experience emotions. If you will express how you feel it will help you in the long run.
Skills that will assist in being Assertive
Prepare your case: If possible take a brief time to prepare your case. Doing this you will forethought your delivery and it will add to your confidence.
Focus and repetition: Be clear and make your point simply and succinctly. Remain brief and employ repetition, stating exactly what you said previously.
Good body language will convey your interests and receptivity to others' ideas, opinions and emotions. The following body language techniques will be helpful:
Forward posture - this signals your interest in what the other person has to say
Open posture and gestures - An appropriate open posture suggests that you are relaxed, non-judgemental and open-minded to the other's suggestions
Eye contact - this indicates that you are concentrating and concerned with what the other person has to say
Appropriate smiles - this can give a positive message to the other person
Acitve Listening/Skillful listening is an art form that encourages others to open up. These are different listening skills that you can encounter throughout your interaction:
Verbal prompts - this are the "mm-hmm"and the "oh....really" interjections.They are a gentle encouragement that invites the other person to continue
Open questions - these questions cannot be answered with just a "yes" or "no"
Reflecting - you can reflect content, emotion or possible reasons. This facilitate open and honest communication
Thoughtful silences - allowing some silence gives the other person time and space to consider your assertion
Communication Skills: Being a good communicator and avoiding "defence triggers" will add to successful assertion. Examples of "defence triggers"are name-calling, psycoanalysing, manipulative praise-giving, judging, prescriptive advice-giving, closed questions, unrealistic reassurance and changing the subject.
Using agreement and requests for specific examples: Employing agreement and requesting specific examples can mean that your assertion does not degenerate into an argument. You use these skills to ensure that you briefly respond to the other person but you keep the focus on what you want to say.
Appropriate self-disclosure: This is a skill that encourages you to share how you are honestly feeling.
Negotiating a realistic compromise: Doing this you will attempt to understand and take into consideration the desires, suggestions and emotions of both parties in order to obtain a compromise that will be agreeable and workable.
Dryden, W., & Constantinou, D. (2004). Assertiveness Step by Step. London: Sheldon Press.