On Being Assertive
Some years back on one of those long queues at the banks, I was patiently waiting for my turn to get in and make a transaction so to break the boredom, I picked a book and started reading. While I was taken away by the book, I suddenly heard lots of murmurs and complains but with no specific audience.
I was environmentally unconscious but while I was still asking the next person to me what has happened, I see this simple and confident guy stepping out of the line and walking towards the front, everyone was silent and curious; he gently called out the young lady who had just walked from the back straight to the teller, for no good reason apart from arrogance and disrespect. My strange guy, with a bold voice, precise words and respectful tone slapped the arrogance out of her head, and everyone was speechlessly in awe about his assertiveness.
According to Wikipedia, assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. In the field of psychology and psychotherapy, it is a learnable skill and mode of communication. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines assertiveness as: “a form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms the person’s rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one’s rights or point of view”
One of our greatest fears is rejection, we fear what would happen if we speak our minds out, if we express our disagreement and stand up for ourselves. Assertiveness teaches us the alternative to that. It teaches us to respectfully communicate our personal opinions, needs and desires, to refuse to be abused, manipulated, and to overcome the fear of speaking our minds.
Here are 5 facts about being assertive:
- It’s polite
Most of the time assertiveness is misjudged as rudeness, mostly when you have grown with a culture that stresses humility and churches that teaches that God will be your defender, standing for yourself looks like a crime and not the first thing to do.
- It’s fearless
As I mentioned above, the driving force of assertiveness is overcoming fear, fear of the uncertain, doubt of what will be a result if you openly told your boss that you indeed need a raise, fear of what would happen if you would finally tell off that friend who only calls you when he needs you, if you told him that you ain’t take that kind of friendship anymore.
- It saves you from making assumptions
Assumption is the easiest thing to do when you don’t have the courage to ask the question. You assume he doesn’t like you anymore since he has stopped asking you out for a cup of coffee, but you don’t know the truth, maybe he is just busy, and you have been busy looking inside your heart for a reason of his silence. Being assertive allows you to communicate better and ask these type of questions that would rather be uncomfortable.
- It gives control over anger
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” Ambrose Bierce said. Assertiveness equips you with the ability to control your anger, this does not mean that you repress this feeling; it means that you control anger and talk about it in a reasoning manner.
- It gets you the real people
Assertiveness will not get you many friends, but it will get you the real ones. There’s a say that goes like; “the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”. Not many people will stand being told the truth and stand with their ego and confidence undestroyed, but those who will, would have find their place in your life.
You might not be feeling like you are everything else apart from assertive, but Ce n’est pas sorcier; the great news is that assertiveness is a **learnable skill, **we all stand the same chance of being as assertive as we wish to be. We just need to break up with fear, slow by slow.
(Start from today, look at the situations where you needed to stand up for yourself but for some reasons you left it to time to solve it, think of how you’ll have handled it differently in an assertive way, make it a point to apply that way in another similar situation.) Optional.
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