Are You Being Assertive?

Mon, Mar 29, 2021 2-minute read

Are You Being Assertive?
Everyone has a definition of assertiveness and aggressiveness based on their life experiences.

Assertiveness is generally defined as using effective communication skills while respecting the thoughts and feelings of others. The issue with the definition: many of us haven’t learned what effective communication skills are, how they feel to use them, and what they look like.

This leads to many people thinking they are being assertive, yet are communicating more aggressively than they realize. I have and still unintentionally land on the wrong side of the assertive/aggressive line. It only takes a subtle shift to end up being aggressive.

What if we loosen up the definition of assertiveness to using the best communication skill or skills for the situation while respecting your feelings, and the thoughts and feelings of the other person and reaching your goal.

This may mean asking for help, responding forcibly when need, apologizing or placating/pacifying when needed, or asking for what you want instead of demanding it.

How can we increase the likelihood of being assertive instead of aggressive:

  • Don’t assume people know what you want.
  • Clearly ask for what you want, instead of telling.
  • Communicate clearly and with respect for yourself and the other person.
  • Listen to understand, and not to respond.
  • Articulate the reasoning and meaning behind a request or action.
  • Use emotional intelligence

There can be a very fine line between being assertive and aggressive. Listening, emotional intelligence, and asking for what you want, while keeping open communication channels open are solid foundational skills for assertiveness and general communication.