6 Tips for Improving Assertiveness Skills

6 years, 2 months ago

“What Does It Mean To Be Assertive”? 

The word, “assertive” is defined in many different ways: “bold,” “definite,” “insistent,” “positive,” “certain,” and “confident.” Being assertive means you have the skills to ask for or clearly state what you want or need.

assertiveness skillsThey are important skills to learn because assertiveness helps you to communicate effectively with other people.  The alternative to being assertive is to either be passive or to be aggressive.  Being passive runs the danger that people will treat you as a doormat whereas being aggressive can result in arguments.  You may get your own way from the argument but it is likely to be grudging co-operation.  The best response, therefore is assertiveness and here are some tips to help you develop assertiveness skills.

Practice the following assertiveness skills daily to improve your communication:

1.      Make every effort to be honest, even when you’re in a tough situation.

2.      Describe to the person what you observed or experienced. A detective on an old television show, Dragnet, was known for saying, “Just the facts, ma’am.” If you think that someone has not listened to you avoid being judgmental or stating your opinion just restate the facts.

3.      When sharing your feelings, use “I” statements. For example, if someone has misunderstood you restate what you need by saying , “I said…”

4.      Be mindful of your tone of voice. If you’re irritated or angry, it will come across to the other person. It’s better to have a cooling off period so you can keep your tone normal to state what you want or need.

5.      Maintain eye contact with the other person when you talk to them.

6.      Allow yourself to feel confident about your ability to communicate your wishes. Tell yourself that you have every right to be honest and direct with others, as long as you do it tactfully and respect the other person involved.

Take a look at the following scenario, question and responses.

Scenario: Jane’s Trip to the Movies

Jane goes to the movies with a friend. She approaches the snack counter and orders two sodas and two large bags of buttered popcorn. The young lady behind the snack counter gives her one iced tea, one soda and two medium-size bags of plain popcorn.

What Would You Do If You Were Jane?

A.     You pay and take the incorrect snacks the young lady gave you. It’s no big deal because you like iced tea. Plus, you and your friend won’t mind eating plain popcorn instead of buttered. You thank her and head to your seats with the drinks and popcorn, feeling disappointed.

B.     You get angry. You tell the young lady what you think of her listening skills and work habits. Then, you demand to get what you ordered at no charge. You sit down and tell your friend, “I sure told her!”

C.     You calmly repeat your order. You ask the young lady to exchange the iced tea for another soda and the 2 medium bags of plain popcorn for 2 large bags of buttered popcorn. You thank her, pay and take your snacks.

Passive Response

If you selected A, you responded passively. It may be wise to brush up on your assertiveness skills. Taking the passive approach by not re-stating your order may indicate that you feel uncomfortable about asserting your own wants or needs.

Here are some reasons why this may be the case:

  • You feel uncomfortable standing up for yourself.
  • You feel unworthy.
  • You believe that speaking up means you’re aggressive.

Aggressive Response

If you selected B, you responded aggressively. You might feel annoyed and angry about the young lady’s mistakes.

Some things to consider if this is your preferred response:

  • You may feel justified in your reaction because, after all, she’s wrong and you’re right. You must demand satisfaction from this person.
  • Consider practicing assertiveness rather than aggressiveness in the future. See below for ideas.

Assertive Response

If you selected C, you chose the assertive response. You believe you have a right to receive what you ordered.

  • You have confidence to appropriately ask again for what you ordered.
  • You chalk it up to a minor mistake by the young lady and forget about it.

Conclusion About Assertiveness Skills

Understanding how you respond in situations when your needs are unmet is important to living a healthy life. Examine how you behave in such situations to determine your assertiveness response type. If you seek to improve your level of assertiveness, try practising the above suggestions.

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26 thoughts on “6 Tips for Improving Assertiveness Skills”

    1. I meant that in our relationships we should seek to be assertive rather than passive or aggressive. Sometimes it is hard to change our behaviour if we have been used to acting one (wrong) way. You may find it useful to read our book “Successful Living”, which is available from Amazon Kindle, because that has some good stuff in it about relationships. Also, sign up for our Newsletter and we’ll send you a free report, How to be Happy.

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  11. I enjoyed the article. Please post more about this subject. I want to learn more about how to have good relationships and assertiveness etc so I’ve joined your Newsletter too and I also loved your free report, “How to be Happy” which came with it. Thanks, Roy.

    1. Glad that you like the Newsletter and the free report that we sent you, Levi. You might also like our book, “Successful Living” from Amazon Kindle because that contains some stuff about relationships.

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