Although being assertive may seem quite challenging at first, the benefits of open, honest communication are enormous and well worth the effort. When we learn to behave and communicate in an assertive way we immediately feel empowered and more in control. Most importantly we safeguard ourselves against the aggressive and passive aggressive games others play. After we have practiced assertiveness for a while our self-worth and self-respect improves, leading to greater levels of self-esteem and confidence.
Practicing assertiveness then becomes more natural as it reflects the higher value we have placed on ourselves. Eventually this leads to a greater sense of personal freedom. Like anything, the more we practice, the easier it gets.
For most of us assertiveness does not come readily. Becoming assertive involves changing the way we normally react to people and this is a new experience for both us and those around us. When I first set out to be assertive I did not get it right all the time, in fact I got it wrong more than I got it right! I knew that if I wanted to become an assertive person I needed to be patient with myself. When we feel like we have tripped up it is important not to give up, after all we are undergoing what can be a massive adjustment.
Another issue that I found unexpected were others reactions to my new-found assertiveness. It never occurred to me that this might be a big adjustment for them too. Others can often miss the privileges our passivity affords them and so their resistance to our first attempts to be assertive are natural. If you encounter this resistance do not be dismayed, simply remain calm and continue being assertive. Others resistance can be a sign that you are on the cusp of a breakthrough! Once they realize you are determined to remain assertive and that you won’t revert to your old ways, they will adjust to the new, more assertive, you.
Reflecting on my assertiveness classes, I am encouraged by how many of us face our fears and take those first small steps to assert ourselves. It can be a lengthy journey to become truly assertive, but if we can take pride in the little victories along the way, we will soon see a new existence emerging. One where our beliefs, feelings and opinions are heard and where we command that others treat us with the respect and consideration we deserve. To me, that is a destination worth making the journey for.
What happened when you asserted yourself? Did you find it harder or easier than expected? Were there any reactions from the other person you didn’t anticipate? How did you deal with the unexpected? Did you use any of the advanced assertiveness tools like the broken record technique? Please comment and share your experiences with our community to gain insight, encouragement and support.
- Assert yourself to the person in question in a neutral location at a time that is convenient to both of you. Incorporate a calm steady tone of voice, positive body language and, where necessary, the more advanced techniques as outlined in part three of this series.
‘A Woman In Your Own Right: Assertiveness and You’ by Anne Dickson, available on Amazon