Being Assertive

Many people often feel powerless and ineffective when dealing with others in close relationships, in public situations or in the workplace. Some may feel that they need to get pushy, rude or belligerent to make themselves heard. Feeling like you have no control or no voice in a situation can leave you being annoyed, frustrated and angry. Can this be changed? If so, how can certain interactions be more beneficial when dealing with other people? There are three ways in which people interact with others. Some of that behavior has been adopted from what has worked for us best in the past or at least gotten us what we wanted or needed at the time. Getting the most from interactions with others means that both people or parties must feel as though they have gained something in order to feel good about themselves.

Acting in a passive or shy manner leaves a person lacking in confidence and self esteem. Being passive means backing away from a situation.Sometimes this can be appropriate, but if it is done too often the person can lack responsibility for what is happening. An overly passive person can lose quality and satisfaction in his/her life.

Another, and equally as ineffective as being passive, is to act aggressively. Aggressive behavior hurts another person, either physically or emotionally. Two people take defensive positions: one person must win and the other must lose in a conflict or disagreement. Aggressive behavior is used to dominate at the expense of the other person's self esteem. After having mistreated the other person, the aggressor feels guilty and dejected. Aggressive people are often concerned and worried about their inability to make friends and solve problems satisfactorily.

While aggressive behavior will never allow you to "win", assertive behavior focuses on negotiating as equals. In that way, reasonable changes can occur so that the other person can have equal power. The purpose of being assertive is to solve interpersonal problems without "winning" at the expense of one or the other party.

Assertiveness is the alternative to both personal powerlessness and manipulation of others. It promotes equality in relationships, helping us to act in our own best interests, stand up for ourselves without being overly anxious, express honest feelings and to use personal rights without denying rights of others.

Changing to assertive behavior can be difficult. Most of it depends on you. In order to feel more in control, it is good to always specify a situation as clearly as possible. Remember to be objective and relate details without emotional responses. Learn how to listen to others and negotiate workable agreements that can help to clarify the other's perspective of what the problem is. Determine the goals of exactly what it is that you want.Then identify the personal rights for yourself and the other person involved, decide on a plan and check on the consequences of that plan. When this has been completed and you feel ready, try out the assertive behavior. Trial and error may be part of a plan until you become used to being assertive. Do what works best for you. In the end, as a result, you will be happier with yourself and the effects that the assertive behavior has on your life.

Copyright 1994,1995 Lovina Pivin
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