To be assertive is to express our desires, feelings, and rights without fear of what others will say, without attacking or offending those around us, defending our rights, and respecting the rights of others. Assertiveness implies saying what we feel respectfully at all times in such a way that will help us to be better with ourselves, developing better self-esteem, greater psychological health, and interpersonal communication, making it more direct and honest. It does not mean not having any conflict with others, but having the tools to know how to manage problems openly and respectfully through dialogue.
Assertiveness is a valuable quality no matter how stressful your environment. It is, of course, indispensable, for example, for negotiators. Still, it also helps a lot for people in professions such as college paper writers (to have constructive conversations with students and professors, to find compromises, and be satisfied with the result of communication).
It is about finding the middle ground in communicating with others, avoiding passivity, and, the opposite extreme, aggressiveness. No leader is not assertive since every assertive person makes decisions in a confident, concise manner and guides others under the premise of emphasizing the positive versus the negative, facilitating communication and minimizing misinterpretations, which increases the satisfaction of their workers and reduces possible conflicts.
Where does assertiveness come from?
The origin of the word "assertiveness" comes from the Latin asserere or assertum, which means "to assert" or "to defend". Thus, the noun acquires the characteristics of self-confidence, high self-esteem, efficient communication, and the search for truth and justice.
The communicative system is not always conducted optimally since there may be obstacles between the sender and the receiver that interfere with it.
When we apply assertiveness in our way of communicating, having a clear vision of the path we seek and give voice to it, we generate the value of respect for ourselves and others; which will go hand in hand with success in any area of our life (work, family and social), since it is implicit in knowing how to manage our emotions with positive and beneficial communication strategies, through the use of our emotional intelligence.
Assertiveness is a characteristic of the individual that develops from the relationships he/she has with the environment and others, especially with the significant people in his/her life. Through these relationships, we pick up certain behaviors, beliefs, and values that form the social group in which we develop. In this way, we learn and train this skill to the point where we are aware of the positive repercussions that assertiveness brings to our interpersonal relationships.
Why is it so beneficial in our work relationships?
Assertive communication has many advantages in any area of our lives. In the work environment in particular, it allows us to relate better with others and solve problems directly and honestly through healthy communication. It is not enough to say what we think and feel but to know how to do it effectively; to feel free to express our ideas while respecting those of others, to allow our turn to speak and to manage our emotions in conflictive situations, seeking reasonable alternatives and actively listening to those around us. An assertive person will speak openly about their ideas and know the reasons for their opinions, being aware of the needs of colleagues.
A person who does not practice assertiveness will present characteristics such as a lack of self-confidence, one who does not consider meeting the needs of others, only his own, gives little flexibility in problem-solving, and does not respect the opinion of others. It leads to a bad working environment, fear of presenting ideas out loud, intimidation, inability to ask for help when needed, verbal violence, and ineffective communication mechanisms that cause psychological discomfort in workers.
Assertive communication, however, allows us to reach the opposite point where we relate better, not only with others but also with ourselves, and this has a positive impact on many aspects of our lives as we avoid the accumulation of emotional discomfort, express our emotions and negative thoughts in a calm way and without hurting anyone. A characteristic of assertiveness knows how to detect our pain, describe it, and express it in the best possible way without holding it back. It allows us to feel free and to accept our emotions in front of others.
How can we develop it?
Once we know the characteristics of assertiveness and the advantages of putting it into practice, there are several strategies to develop it:
1. Learning to listen actively
Active listening consists of paying full attention to what the other person is expressing directly to us, their ideas, and their feelings. It is a characteristic of assertive communication in which it is essential to develop empathy and acceptance of the other, perceiving their emotions through metacommunication (i.e., perceiving verbal and nonverbal language), which allows us to better interpersonal communication.
Asking questions, paraphrasing, or summarizing what has been communicated shows signs that we have paid attention and our attempt to understand and interpret the message that has been transmitted to us.
2. Distinguishing between assertive and aggressive communication
Within the three communicative styles, passive, assertive and aggressive, there is usually more significant confusion between the latter since both involve expressing opinions. The difference that marks them is that the aggressive style puts its interests and rights above those of others, using rough language and even belittling others. In contrast, the assertive style seeks to satisfy its requests, but without putting at risk the rights of others, seeking justice for all.
3. Knowing how to say "no" in the best possible way.
Sometimes we think that to develop good communication, we must always nod so as not to hurt others, even when what we want to say is "no". It is essential to know how to refuse requests from others, and there are several strategies for this, for example, telling a positive message first and communicating our refusal afterward. In this way, we activate certain positive feelings in the other person before giving the answer we want. It'd also be helpful to read how to write a response paper using assertiveness technics. To be able to use it not only verbal but also in writing.
4. Accept our emotions and learn to manage them.
We must be aware that emotions are part of our life and, therefore, we must find the best tools to regulate them to achieve well-being and health in our daily life. But it is essential to know that emotional management is a personal process in which the tools that work for one person may not work for another.
That is why the best approach we can establish is multidimensional, where we will treat our behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and physiological levels in search of a balance between them. In this way, we will achieve our mental well-being.
5. Respecting the needs of others.
Understanding others, listening, and making an effort to know their reality and needs, favor respect since we empathize with the other, and he/she feels our consideration and intention. This act entails a significant effort since we have to listen, accept and connect with the other person even though we do not think like them.
This way, we get closer to the person and value their rights and desires assertively.
6. Recognize our strengths and weaknesses.
This process is crucial for good assertive communication, as it helps us to feel better about ourselves and understand how we can become more effective and where we need to improve to achieve success in our lives. It is essential to look at ourselves and accept that we are not perfect but also that we have great virtues, which will help us increase our self-esteem and improve our relationships with others.
Assertiveness implies a personal effort where our attitude plays a critical role. We must practice it to establish it automatically in our daily life and thus forge a better social environment. If we all try it, we will have a better interrelation with others and, therefore, a decrease in emotional discomfort. Are you up for it?