Are you a good lawyer for yourself? Can you articulate your opinions, your emotions, and your needs while demonstrating respect to other people? If yes, you possess a great skill – Assertiveness. Assertiveness involves communicating feelings, beliefs, and thoughts openly, and defending personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive, and non-destructive manner.
Picture a line between the words passive and aggressive: At the middle point of this line lies assertiveness, a place where you work with others by finding the right words at the right time to express yourself.
Advantages of being assertive
People who have the skill to find the right words at the right time to get their point across in a clear and confident manner are seen as self-confident. They allow others to see where they stand on a decision or on the matters at hand. They have a better chance to achieve their goals by articulating their needs. At the same time they view the rights and opinions of others as sacred and in this way foster relationships.
What if you are too passive on the assertiveness scale?
The tendency to keep your thoughts inside may lead you to feel exhausted, frustrated, or even angry that you are on your own dealing with your unvoiced opinions. You may ruminate over bad decision your boss made, the “crazy” plan that someone created, or that coworker who took credit for your work. It’s as if all this occurred without your approval or your input, and yet you are left wanting to say so much. You could also be seen as lacking initiative, particularly if you are low in independence. Your great ideas may stay hidden from your team and as a result you will not be as enthusiastic about others’ ideas or committed to following their directions.
What if you are too aggressive on the assertiveness scale?
If you tend to pull on strong emotions and convictions to state your position, you may miss important information or feedback that may alter your perspective. If you easily cross the line from assertiveness to aggressiveness, you might be seen as stubborn, or arrogant lacking flexibility in your thinking. This can result in unproductive behavior and damage relationships.
Strategy to develop if you are too passive
A common reason for overly passive behavior is the fear of losing something as a result of speaking up. Identify the last three times you were passive (meetings are great places to start). Then, brainstorm all the possible:
1. Positive and negative results that could have occurred had you been more assertive. Most of our fear comes from an exaggeration of bad consequences.
2. Think of situations when the good consequences outweighed the bad.
3. Identify when similar situations will be occurring in the future. These will be relatively safe opportunities for you to practice being more assertive.
Strategy to develop if you are too aggressive
Crossing the Aggression Line.
If you have a rather strong assertiveness, you need to be particularly cautious that your behavior doesn’t work against you or harm your relationships.
1. Set up a few rules for yourself that you will follow when your behavior starts to cross the line into aggression. For example, interrupting others in a meeting is a sign that you are no longer being respectful. If this happens, a rule could be “Openly apologize to the interrupted person and be silent until it is your time to speak.”
2. Seek feedback from a trustworthy person. How did this person view your way of communicating?
Working with a coach will facilitate the exploration and developing process. Book a 30 minutes free complimentary session to test how coaching for Emotional intelligence works.