Updated: May 2, 2021
For some, the skill of being assertive has come easy, and then for others, it feels awkward, terrifying, alien almost. So we never really made it a priority to master. However, assertiveness is a necessary life skill linked to a wide range of positive outcomes. Failing to understand and learn the art of assertive communication could result in others not respecting you or your boundaries, development of low self-esteem, low levels of confidence, frustration, relationship breakdowns, and more.
So what is assertiveness?
Assertiveness is seen as having the ability to communicate in a way that respects the rights and opinions of others as well as your own.
But how does being assertive actually help you?
Well, being assertive can result in:
A more positive self-image
An increased likelihood of finding positive solutions
Higher self-esteem/ self-worth
More effective communication skills
Increased overall well-being
Now it's not uncommon to confuse assertive communication with aggressive communication. But it's important to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive. So let's take a look, aggressive communication generally:
Denies the rights of others
Uses a rigid stance
Is emotionally driven
Does not value others rights
Creates more problems
Is deceitful or manipulative
Taking steps towards becoming more assertive is worth the effort, as mentioned above it is linked to a wide array of positive outcomes. It's a way of respectfully disagreeing with something or someone whilst still implementing your boundaries and, more importantly, respecting yourself.
So let's look at how to implement assertiveness:
Direct eye contact - holding eye contact shows confidence and strength. However, ensure that you're not staring the other person down because then this becomes a sign of intimidation.
Body language - hold your head high and bring your shoulders back. Walk with purpose. Body language is a strong form of communication.
Tone of voice - Speak clear and loud. But no too loud as you don't want to appear aggressive. Speak too soft and this can result in not being heard, spoken over, and gives the impression of a lack of confidence.
Facial expressions - Use facial expressions that are neither angry nor anxious - keep your face relaxed. Be aware of what expression you may be displaying (anxious/ angry) and try to relax this more.
Timing. Execute your assertiveness at the right time. Effective communication is always delivered at the right time.
Language - Use non-threatening, non-blaming language. Be aware of what words you use. Use "I" statements. Make suggestions instead of demands or accusations, and try not to use "um" and "ah".
Clarity - Be clear in your communication and intentions. Take the time to explore what you want in life. When this is clear you become clear and confident and know how to put this out into the world.
Practicing assertiveness is crucial for creating confidence and empowerment within yourself and relationships in which all individuals are deemed equal, worthy, respected, and valued.