Role-play typical scenarios with them so they can practise being assertive. 4. Assertive vs. aggressive behavior. In other words, making mistakes helps us learn and become more effective. Expect blocks and bumps and detours. But sometimes you don’t even know what those are. I also would like to reserve Tuesday and Thursday for my own little family dinner. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless. Reassure yourself that being assertive is actually a powerful way to strengthen your connection with others. Many of us have a hard time articulating our thoughts and feelings. Assertiveness offers many benefits. ● Hesitant communication: You won’t find a passive personality willingly at the centre of others’ attention. Often times when I work with couples and families in session, they are so focused on how they will respond to the other person that they stop listening to what is being said. Copyright © 1995-2020 Psych Central. One of the limitations that nice people have that prevents them from becoming more assertive... 2. “It allows you to calm down your fight, flight, freeze response and access the thinking and meaning-making parts of your brain, so you can effectively use your assertive skills.”, You believe that you don’t deserve to have a voice or to have what you want, Hanks said. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless. I want to be able to be myself and to be honest and to have my own needs and wants.”, She asks her mom to talk, saying: “It is wonderful to have you so close and for my children to have such a strong bond with you. Assertive responses neither attack the other's self-esteem nor put him on the defensive. The fear that they will all of the sudden be this heartless and cruel person is an illusion. How Do You Become More Assertive? You can pick a word from this list. To build self-esteem in … As a result, neither party ends up feeling heard. Hanks, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, suggested these steps for navigating this fear: Here’s an example from Hanks: An adult daughter wants to assert herself with her aging mother. Think of it as a healthy midpoint between … 3 Obstacles that Stop You from Being Assertive & What You Can Do, The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women, Learning To Trust Yourself Again After Betrayal, Many Seniors with Depression Faring Well During Pandemic, Turning Out the Lights on Mania: Dark Therapy, Re-booting our Capacity to Cope with the Corona Virus: Strategies, Books and Movies that Inspire Screenwriters, Recognize that it’s a universal fear. The first step is to become emotionally aware. Set Your Boundaries. Mom has a difficult personality and few friends. Agressive People Create Conflicts. It is also is essential for assertiveness. Value The Other Person. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. “This can be the most difficult obstacle to overcome, because these core beliefs are often just the branches on a tree with very deep roots in childhood experiences and relationship patterns. And often these unmet needs have to do with connection. You forget the other person is human, too. It is important for a person to be assertive, because being assertive can help individuals in many ways. After all, when we’re triggered, we go into our fight, flight, freeze response (i.e., survival mode). Instead, you might be hyper-focused on their role or position (such as your boss, parent or older sibling), she said. “If you notice an unmet need, see if there’s a request you have of yourself or someone else to help you meet that need.”, “It’s hard to ask for what you want if you don’t believe that your needs matter,” said Miller, also founder of befriendingourselves.com. You simply tell someone what you’re thinking, feeling, wanting or wishing. You don’t have the skills. Wong reminds her clients that part of succeeding is failing. Identify a three-step process to build assertiveness skills 4. According to Rebecca Wong, LCSW, a relationship therapist and founder of connectfulness, “in order to clearly and calmly express yourself you first need to tune into and understand yourself.” What does this look like? Learn more. She questions whether it’s her problem to solve. In a previous piece we talked about three obstacles that stall assertiveness: a sinking self-worth; our fear of disconnecting with the other person; and lack of communication and emotional management skills. Assertive individuals are good listeners. Hanks suggested setting a reminder three times a day to consider how you’re feeling in that moment. There are many reasons why people may act and respond in a non-assertive way and this pages examines some of the most common. Many times you will find yourself feeling guilt especially if you’ve been passive or a … Assertive people can bring a lot of substance and interesting point of views, but some disregard them as being unnecessary because of the way it comes out. Notice whenever they handle a situation assertively and compliment them. People often want to feel they are understood. Maybe you’re too busy focusing on others. “We all want to be treated with respect and consideration. If your style is aggressive, you may … “Even if you have the assertive communication skills, if you are emotionally overwhelmed or shut down, you may not be able to access your skills,” said Hanks, author of the book The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide for Overwhelmed Women. One of the characteristics of assertive people is that they prioritize … You cannot expect your child to stand up for herself or what she believes in if she does not first have self-esteem. Thankfully, this is a skill you can learn and practice. Identify irrational beliefs that impede assertive communication 6. I’ve noticed that I am feeling the need to spend some time with just my little family. The truth is that you can’t make everybody happy and you can’t be responsible for their feelings. … But there are many things that can prevent us from being assertive. Listen actively. She relies heavily on her daughter for companionship and cooking. Being assertive is not an all-or-nothing behavior, either. Being assertive is usually viewed as a healthier communication style. Most people err in one of two primary ways when they try to be assertive: they come across too weakly, making it too easy for the other party to … Psych Central does not provide medical or psychological is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. 2. But the good news is that it’s something anyone can learn and practice. Identify the functions of interpersonal communication in nursing 2. You express yourself in a clear, firm and respectful way. The daughter is married and the primary caregiver to her three young kids. In sharing your thoughts, feelings, needs and wants, you’re sharing what’s going on inside you. When people are not assertive they can suffer from a loss of confidence and self-esteem, which is more likely to make them less assertive in the future. Becoming More Assertive 1. Another key component of being assertive – which many people forget – is having emotional management skills. They relate sincerely to others. Keep Your Distance and Keep Your Options Open. Now consider the flip side. Anger gives people a sense of power, forcefulness, and control, even though the person is often out of control at that point. “Dr. Assertive responses are usually effective in getting others to change or reinforce behavior. Use assertive behaviour yourself so your child can learn from example. And by the time we get it, we know we got it.”. That’s their job. When you are assertive, some people may not like the changes you are making. I wanted to let you know that I will be taking them to run errands and to some activities. Doing is about…doing: the learning the sax, the leaving the partner or job, the being assertive. Chapter 1 Responsible, assertive, caring communication in nursing Objectives 1. Maybe her mom feels pressure to spend time with her daughter. Learn more. Below, psychotherapist Julie de Azevedo Hanks, Ph.D, MSW, LCSW, shared three obstacles that may stand in our way, along with how to overcome these hurdles. An assertive communication style can help us do the things we want to do. They will not care about the feelings and sentiments of others. Being assertive is a lot more difficult. The daughter practices telling herself: “This may be hard, but it will help in the long run. But she’s afraid of hurting her mom’s feelings, and having her withdraw into a depression and from her. Try to understand the other person’s point of view and don’t interrupt when they are … You might worry that expressing your needs will create distance or conflict between you. Being assertive is not easy. This article discusses how assertiveness helps you personally and professionally. Don’t expect yourself to fully understand assertiveness right away. The daughter wants to tell her mom that she needs more time with her family. It would mean a lot to me if you would text or call if you’re planning on going somewhere after school.”. Aggressive people, on the other hand, will be brusque and harsh in their dealings. “We are wired for relationships and for connection with others, so the feeling of being excluded or rejected is a core fear.”. Being assertive is about expressing your thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. The Risks of Being Assertive. Copyright © 1995-2020 Psych Central. #2 – Try not to take things personally. Assertive communication involves clear, honest statements about your beliefs, needs, and emotions. Assertiveness is done with the intention of hurting no one. 4. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. She has self-compassion for her feelings, which include guilt. We ultimately wind up shutting down and remaining silent—in other words, being passive or non-assertive. Your time is valuable, and your happiness and well-being … A lot. 5. You might worry that the other person will get upset when you assert yourself. It can also help you from acting like a bully to others. Many of us have a hard time articulating our thoughts and feelings. The exercises are grouped under 11 chapters, and include such topics as the meaning of assertiveness; assertive, aggressive, and passive thought and behavior patterns; what prevents individuals from being assertive; rights and responsibilities; self-confidence and self-esteem; and body language. Yet. They go out of their way to resolve the issue with a win-win compromise. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. This is when seeing a skilled therapist can help, she said. It is a balancing act between calm self- expression and firm, strong clarity. It helps you keep people from taking advantage of you. If it’s a request, you might say, “I’ll need to check my availability or schedule.”, That is, you don’t have confidence in yourself that you can be assertive. No way!” Wong recommended taking a deep breath to calm down and soothe yourself. We have more on how to overcome barriers to better listening, here. “It’s hard to ask for what you want if you don’t believe that your … Maybe you’re running on autopilot and rarely look within. Assertive people will try to express themselves in ways that show respect for the others. First things first! “Often what happens is that instead of being able to tune in and mindfully speak your mind, we get big (aggressive) or small (passive) in response.”, When you’re flustered, it’s easy to blurt out “Yes! Another reason why we may not say and do the things we should is that we really don’t care... 3. I appreciate your company and love having you over for dinner and accompany me to run errands. Because sometimes people react poorly … Let go of guilt. Remind yourself that this person is a “human being, just like you, who is also trying to be happy and get their needs met.” (See this piece and this piece for being assertive with people you find intimidating. Going through the above steps, the daughter recognizes and accepts that this conversation is scary. “Simply naming your emotion decreases the intensity of it, making it more manageable,” Hanks said. Shy man photo available from Shutterstock. Being assertive can seem easy in theory. You think your needs don’t matter. Where to get help If you feel like you fall into the “pushover” category, then that’s a shitty … For assertive behavior, you’ll have to let go of the need to … Assertive behavior prevents "gunny sacking," i.e., saving up a lot of bad feelings. Foster self-esteem. Say “No” more often. Not all confrontational and hostile individuals are worth tasseling with. Secondly, if you’re unsure about how to respond, be honest. They know that their feelings and ideas matter. All rights reserved. You fear disconnecting with the other person. They’re not too timid and they’re not too pushy. These skills can help you stand up for yourself and still treat other people with respect. 3. Below, you’ll find five more obstacles and practical ways to overcome them. It includes pausing more often, slowing down and sitting with your feelings, she said. Accept your fear and reflect on how likely it is to come true. advice, diagnosis or treatment. For instance, Wong said, when being assertive, you might need to go back to someone and say, “I forgot to say this …” or “I fumbled here,” or “I might’ve offended you when I said this…” This is OK. Like any skill, being assertive requires practice. Because there are many other obstacles, we asked two different clinicians to share their thoughts. Most people who struggle with being assertive are worried that they will be seen as aggressive. And like anything in life, expect it to be a process. (You can find other ideas and techniques here and here.). 0. Some organizational and national cultures prefer people to be passive, and may view assertive behavior as rude or even offensive. Ultimately, assertive communication is boundary setting, self-advocacy, and self-respect. Anger, oddly enough, is actually easier to deal with than assertiveness. Hanks suggested communicating your needs in this way: “I feel  __________(your feeling) when you ___________ (other’s specific behavior) because I think ___________(your thoughts). It would mean a lot to me if  ___________(your request).”, For instance, a partner might say, according to Hanks: “I feel sad when you come home after work and turn on the TV because I think I’m not very important to you. It would mean a lot to me if you would give me a hug and we could touch base for 10 minutes before you watch TV.”, She shared this example with a parent and child: “I feel scared when you don’t come home right after school, because I think something bad may have happened. Sure!” when you really mean “No, thanks. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Remember, everybody’s needs matter.”, When you’re trying to be assertive with someone, and you start getting anxious, it’s hard to think clearly and rationally, Wong said. Many things can squelch our attempts at being assertive — before we ever even start to express ourselves. Being assertive can help you to explain how you feel and what you need, without being rude or aggressive. She reflects on “her assumption that her mother will have the worst possible response” and considers that she might respond favorably. Behaving assertively can help you: Gain self-confidence and self-esteem She also reflects on who’s responsible for her mom’s lack of supportive relationships. This “builds intimacy.”. Since shame is an important element in keeping people passive, people who do not like your assertiveness may try and shame you. Sometimes it’s just a skill that people have not learned or have not thought about changing in their life. The next time you’re going to have a conversation about your needs, she suggested saying this statement to yourself: “Everybody’s needs matter; that includes me.”. How does that sound to you?”. Yet, assertiveness doesn’t insist others accept your opinions. “The more we try to do something, the more it doesn’t go perfectly, the more experience we gain. 2. It is therefore important to break the cycle and learn to be more assertive, whilst at the same time … Wong suggested looking particularly at what makes you angry and defensive, because often more vulnerable feelings and unexpressed needs lie underneath. This is unlikely. Together you can explore the emotions and experiences at the basis of your core beliefs. And assertive people seek to understand that everyone's OK by asking questions—then really listening to the answers. advice, diagnosis or treatment. When we start to listen actively, we begin to relate to people on their level … I don’t want to carry resentment about my mother. People who speak assertively send the message that they believe in themselves. If you’re really struggling with believing that your needs matter, explore this with a therapist, she said. 5 More Obstacles that Prevent You from Being Assertive, Learning To Trust Yourself Again After Betrayal, Many Seniors with Depression Faring Well During Pandemic, Turning Out the Lights on Mania: Dark Therapy, Re-booting our Capacity to Cope with the Corona Virus: Strategies, Books and Movies that Inspire Screenwriters. There are many barriers that prevent people from saying what they mean. Explain the difference between assertiveness, aggression and passivity. Research has also suggested that gender can have a bearing on how assertive behavior is perceived, with men more likely to be rewarded for being assertive than women. We might be passive and vague about what we need or demanding and abrasive. Identify assertive rights 5. She also suggested sharpening your communication skills by taking workshops and e-courses; reading books; and working with a therapist individually or in a group setting. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. Develop Self-Confidence. Building self-esteem is a crucial component of bullying prevention. You can usually control the doing, but less so the … “If you’re scared of asking for what you want, it might be because you’re not seeing the humanity of the other person,” Miller said. Have Courage. Being Assertive Means Being Selfish This stops you from being assertive because you believe you would only be serving your own desires and ignoring those of others. ), However, if you tend to be more aggressive, reminding yourself about the other person’s humanity can help you shift toward being assertive, Miller said. It might be everything from our own mindset to a lack of skills. Remember that courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It can be like a sliding scale for some. Dan Siegel calls it ‘name it to tame it.’”, It’s also helpful to take three deep breaths before doing or saying anything, she said. Tell the person, “I need a minute” or “I’ll get back to you later,” she said. So your needs might include, she said: “I want to feel wanted or desired;” “I want to feel like I matter;” I want to not feel dismissed.”, Psychotherapist Ali Miller, MFT, suggested setting an alarm every 10 minutes to connect with your current feelings and needs (what needs are being met; what needs are unmet). Assertive responses run a low risk of hurting a relationship. Nor does it imply others’ opinions or desires don’t matter. The benefits of being assertive. 1. [And they’re] often linked with intense emotions.”. Distinguish between assertive, nonassertive, and aggressive communication 3. Check your intent. Psych Central does not provide medical or psychological Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. Wong stressed the importance of resetting your expectations. In the meantime, Hanks suggested trying this practical exercise to build self-worth: Write down 100 things you like or appreciate about yourself. 3. But it goes further than that: Being assertive shows we respect ourselves and other people. All rights reserved. If you’re coming from a place of care, compassion, and integrity, you’re doing the right thing. Businessman photo available from Shutterstock.