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Assertiveness is a trait taught by many personal development experts and psychotherapists and the subject of many popular self-help books. It is linked to self-esteem and considered an important communication skill.

As a communication style and strategy, assertiveness is distinguished from aggression and passivity. How people deal with personal boundaries, their own and those of other people, helps to distinguish between these three concepts. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to abuse or manipulate them. Passive communicators are also typically not likely to risk trying to influence anyone else. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and thus are liable to harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by overcoming fear to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others. Assertive people are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions.

Contents

Definition

An assertive style of behavior is to interact with people while standing up for your rights. Being assertive is to one's benefit most of the time but it does not mean that one always gets what he/she wants. The result of being assertive is that

  1. You feel good about yourself
  2. Other people know how to deal with you and there is nothing vague about dealing with you.

Assertive people

Assertive people have the following characteristics:

  • They feel free to express their feelings, thoughts, and desires.
  • They know their rights.
  • They have control over their anger. It does not mean that they repress this feeling. It means that they control it and talk about it in a reasoning manner.

Techniques

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Broken record

The Broken record technique[1] consists of simply repeating your requests every time you are met with illegitimate resistance. The term comes from vinyl records, the surface of which when scratched would lead the needle of a record player to loop over the same few seconds of the recording indefinitely. However, a disadvantage with this technique is that when resistance continues, your requests lose power every time you have to repeat them. If the requests are repeated too often it can backfire on the authority of your words. In these cases it is necessary to have some sanctions on hand.

Fogging

Fogging[1] consists of finding some limited truth to agree with in what an antagonist is saying. More specifically, one can agree in part or agree in principle.

Negative inquiry

Negative inquiry[1] consists of requesting further, more specific criticism.

Negative assertion

Negative assertion[1] is agreement with criticism without letting up demand.

I statements

I statements can be used to voice one's feelings and wishes from a personal position without expressing a judgment about the other person or blaming one's feelings on them.

Examples

Gandhi's struggle for India's independence, along with the communication strategy and actions he used for this, are a good example of assertiveness. He used a people movement which he called "Satyagraha" which used non violent resistance as a means to achieve his objective. He kept communicating Indians' right to rule themselves to the British, irrespective of what the British thought about Indians. Gandhi was sent to jail several times and in many cases was asked to pay a fine for opposing British rule. He never agreed to pay the fine, saying that he had the right to say what he thought was correct.

After several decades of this struggle, India became independent.

Applications

Several research studies have identified assertiveness training as a useful tool in the prevention of alcohol use disorders.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Smith, M. J. When I say no, I feel guilty 1975
  2. ^ DrugAlcohol-rehab.com

Books on assertiveness

  • Alberti, Robert E. & Emmons, Michael L. Your Perfect Right: Assertiveness and Equality in Your Life and Relationships 2008
  • Bower, S. A. & Bower, G. H. Asserting Yourself: A Practical Guide for Positive Change 1991
  • Davidson, Jeff The Complete Idiot's Guide to Assertiveness 1997
  • Dyer, Wayne W. Pulling your own strings 1978
  • Lloyd, Sam R. Developing Positive Assertiveness: Practical Techniques for Personal Success 2001
  • Paterson, Randy J. The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships 2000
  • Smith, M. J. When I say no, I feel guilty 1975

External links


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