Are you assertive?

Is it difficult to express your positive or negative feelings openly? Do you find that others often sway you into thinking their way? If this is not okay with you, you may have a common problem called "lack of assertiveness."

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings, opinions, beliefs, and needs, openly and honestly, while not violating the personal rights of others. Assertiveness does not in any way mean being aggressive. Aggressive behavior hurts others; assertive behavior respects others.

Assertiveness helps:

Develop your communication skills.

Increase your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Gain the respect of others.

Improve your decision-making ability.

How can I be more assertive with others?

1. Be as specific and clear as possible about what you want, think, and feel. You may use statements such as:

a. "I want..."

b. "I like it when you..."

c. "I don't want you to..."

d. "I have a different opinion, I think..."

2. Be direct. Give your message to the person it is intended, not everyone else except that person.

3. "Own" your message. Use "I" statements to indicate that this is how you feel or think.

4. Ask for feedback. "Am I being clear? How do you see the situation?"

As you learn to be more assertive, use your new skills "selectively." Pick a situation or two to try out this new approach to communicating with others.

Also remember that it is not just what you say to another person, but what you communicate nonverbally as well, with voice, tone, facial expressions, posture, etc. that matters. Remember that it takes practice to be more assertive, but the rewards can be worth the effort.

Courtesy of California State University, Hayward