Assertiveness is a quality of communication style whose locus lies right at the midpoint of the line joining passivity and aggressiveness. A little on the either side can completely change the impact! The application of assertiveness in communication is contextual, it cannot be used at all the times, but it is essential for an individual to have it as a skill!
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Assertiveness is much more than just expressing your view point, it is an ability to express both positive and negative ideas and feelings in a direct way. It is in a way recognition of your own rights while still respecting the rights of others. Not only, it allows a person to take complete responsibility of their thoughts and actions, but also it allows to constructively come to a feasible solution to the problem in a more open and direct way.
The reason why assertiveness should be adopted is because it is anyday a good alternative to holding grudges against the coworkers or the managers. If you can put across your side of the story in a polite yet influential manner to make an impact, the friction that comes because of minor understandings can be reduced.
There are many advantages of having assertiveness as a communication skill including:
- development of mutual respect,
- boost in confidence level,
- increase in self esteem,
- reduction in anxiety and stress
- making the person more expressive
- enhancing decisiveness
While it has many advantages that are indeed impactful, there are some disadvantages of being assertive all the time. These may include:
- Others might not approve of it
- You might end up understanding other people and giving up what YOU initially wanted.
- Most importantly, your being assertive may be misunderstood as being aggressive.
Assertiveness is certainly not a lifestyle, it does not guarantee that you’ll always get what you want. It is one of the four communicative behavioral choice. The four of them are: (How to develop a positive attitude?)
- Direct Aggression: It includes being highly opinionated, bossy, intolerant of others opinion and arrogant. The people who are highly aggressive are never liked in a public sphere because they do not establish borders between exercising their right and respecting others.
- Indirect Aggression: It includes being sarcastic, manipulative and ambiguous while giving your viewpoint. Although works well in some cases, but then, you can not always attack while being in safe position.
- Submissive: It includes being passive, indecisive and apologetic while discussing about something. Although the safest of the four, but people who are submissive are often very indecisive and stressed in real life. They suffer from low self esteem, stress and anxiety disorders and have no confidence when it comes to decision-making.
- Assertive: It includes being direct, open, responsible about your viewpoint and tolerant and accepting of what others have to say. Assertiveness is a great communication skill to have, but along with it you should also know the correct techniques and usage if you want to avoid being misunderstood.
Let us now know some of the correct techniques of assertiveness:
- Watch Your Tone: First thing first, have an eye on your tone while speaking. Don’t speak too fast and too loud. Be polite and considerate while you speak. Try to reason your thought process, explain at length you all the nuances of your proposal. Discuss it out with others. Relax your voice, it should come across as soothing and not shrill to the listeners.
- Discuss till you find the solution: Don’t be in a hurry to come to a conclusion. Take the time out and try and discuss everybody’s proposal that are on board with you. Consider them, discuss all the propositions that are related to it and then finalize the right one.
- Be attentive towards non-verbal communication: Gesture speaks in volumes! Pay attention to body language, eye contact, posture, listening cues of the speaker and decode them to better understand their view point. As the same time, pay equal attention to all these nonverbal attributes of yours while you are speaking.
- Be present in the moment: Try and not bring the issues from the past, be in the moment. It also means being mindful, that is being present in the moment and not thinking about something that’s not at all related to the situate. Listen carefully to the fellow speakers to analyze their views.
- Say no with a valid “because”: If you’re saying “no”, it should be backed up with a proper reason. Always use “because”, it is a powerful tool in communication. A “because” after a “no” is a game-changer! While a “no” looks aggressive and bossy, a “because” after it adds the consideration which changes the entire game.
In W.W. Ziege’s words “Nothing on earth can stop the individual with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help the individual with the wrong mental attitude”. Hence, the knowledge of correct techniques and usage is as important as the knowledge of skill itself. You have to have the right mental attitude to achieve your goals, nothing but it can help you!