Assertive communication can strengthen your relationships, reducing stress from conflict and providing you with social support when facing difficult times. A polite word, but assertive – ‘NO’ to excessive requests from others will enable you to avoid overloading your schedule and promote balance in your life. Assertive communication can also help you handle difficult family, friends and co-workers more easily, reducing drama and stress.
What Is Assertiveness? Assertiveness is the ability to express our feelings and assert our rights while respecting the feelings and rights of others. Assertive communication is appropriately direct, open and honest, and clarifies our needs to the other person. Assertiveness comes naturally to some, but is a skill that can be learned. People who have mastered the skill of assertiveness are able to greatly reduce the level of interpersonal conflict in their lives, thereby reducing a major source of stress.
How Does Assertiveness Compare to Other Behavior? Sometimes people confuse aggressiveness with assertiveness, seeing that both types of behavior involve standing up for our rights and expressing our needs. The key difference between the two styles is that individuals behaving assertively will express themselves in ways that respect the other person. They assume the best about people, respect themselves, and think “win-win” and try to compromise.
In contrast, individuals behaving aggressively will tend to employ tactics that are disrespectful, manipulative, demeaning, or abusive. They make negative assumptions about the motives of others and think in retaliatory terms, or they don’t think of the other person’s point of view at all. They win at the expense of others, and create unnecessary conflict. Passive individuals don’t know how to adequately communicate their feelings and needs to others. They tend to fear conflict so much that they let their needs go unmet and keep their feelings secret in order to ‘keep the peace’.