Can you hold your own when confronted with difficult people and situations? Can you stand up to the office bully when he tries to intimidate you to get his way? We all need ‘survival tactics’ - ways to respond when others are trying to push us around.
Nobody likes that one-down feeling that comes when you can’t quite express what you really want.
But when problems come up in social situations, too many people assume their only choices are to be pushy or be pushed. Manipulating others is not the answer to personal powerlessness.
We need to ‘’learn’’ to be assertive. Being assertive does not mean you are learning to become aggressive, loud or a bully.
It is all about helping you to stand up to people who are like this. It’s not a matter of trying to dominate others.
It is a matter of resisting those who are out to dominate and manipulate you. It is all about resisting manipulation and being able to cope with criticism.
Assertiveness can be understood in terms of what it is not: its neither aggressive nor passive behaviour. It’s clear and direct communication.
Anger and other strong feelings are expressed in a straightforward manner that takes into account the feelings and views of others.
Acting in an assertive way builds on a person’s self esteem, and the self-esteem of others.
It improves people’s ability to take charge in their own lives. Assertiveness is about being responsible for yourself, and making your life work for you, instead of being a victim of circumstances.
The idea of being assertive is about seeing yourself as an equal who has certain rights.
Also it involves respecting the fact that the people you deal with on a daily basis have the same rights as you do. So what exactly are these rights?
They involve having the right to say no and the right to change your mind as well as the right to make mistakes.
They involve having the right to express feeling and opinions as well as the right to disagree and put forward an alternative interpretation.
If you are like me, you don’t realise that being assertive is not a personality trait; it is something that is learned.
The behaviour of being assertive is our ability to state our wants and feelings openly as well as respecting the wants and feelings of those we are talking to, even if these wants and feeling differ from our own.
It is a must communication skill to have in this almost manipulative, selfish and ambitious age.
So how do you learn to be effectively assertive? I’m not a coach of some sort, but I’m sure of this: practice, practice, practice! Recognise that it is ok to speak out. Learn the basic communication skills- it’s not about what you say but how you say it. Kick out lack of self confidence.
Change those patterns of relating that you have used most of your life.
The key is to focus on equal-relationship assertiveness. Bottom line: Don’t put others down to put yourself up.
The result of assertive behaviour is that you get much of what you want whilst retaining the respect of other people.
The author is a regular collumnist