Assertiveness doesn’t mean treating people in an angry or aggressive way. It means standing up for yourself and learning how to communicate in a positive and constructive way without letting anyone manipulate or take advantage of you. Social skills training like assertiveness training is designed to help you figure out why you are the way that you are and give you the tools to learn how to build assertiveness.
The Value Of Assertiveness
Assertiveness is a social skill that everyone needs to have in order to be successful. The assertive definition is “having a forceful or confident personality” which is a good thing for people to have. If you don’t have confidence you will find it difficult to get a promotion, distinguish yourself at work, or have successful relationships with appropriate boundaries that are healthy.
People often think that assertive means aggressive or bullying but being assertive doesn’t mean aggressive. It means that you can treat others respectfully while at the same time demanding respect for yourself. Being assertive can be very difficult for people that were bullied, shamed, or emotionally manipulated as children.
As children grew up they should be learning how to create boundaries and ideally their parents and the other people in their lives should respect their boundaries. This is how children learn how to be confident in their choices and in asking for what they want. But when children grow up with abusive or emotionally unhealthy parents they often become so timid that they are uncomfortable standing up for themselves.
Assertiveness training is designed to help adults who have trouble being assertive learn how to communicate their needs and wants and listen to the needs and wants of others so that they can be assertive in a healthy and productive way. Adults who learn the right methods of being assertive have better interpersonal skills than people who haven’t gone through assertiveness training.
What Is Assertiveness Training?
Assertiveness training is a type of therapy that teachers people to be more confident in their communication by teaching them how to deal with challenging situations. Someone that has trouble standing up for their own needs and wants who takes assertiveness training might be put through role play situations that mimic the scenarios they are uncomfortable with so that they can learn how to handle those situations more effectively.
Common situations that people might encounter in an assertiveness training session would be asking for a raise, going on a job interview, telling a partner that the partner hurt their feelings with a particular comment, asking for help in a store, sending a dish back in a restaurant, or negotiating the terms of a big purchase like a car. Some people even need help to learn how to talk on the phone because they find it difficult to talk to strangers on the phone.
Assertiveness training will give people the skills and confidence to tackle difficult interpersonal situations with calmness and strength knowing that they can set healthy boundaries. For people who never learned how to be confident in their personal power assertiveness training teaches how to trust that personal power and claim respect.
How To Practice Assertiveness
Assertiveness training can help you develop more confidence. But there are also some things that you can start doing right now to help you become more confident and more assertive like:
Practice Active Listening
When you are actively listening to someone else you give that person your undivided attention. Don’t look at your phone, don’t look over their shoulder, and don’t be thinking about what you’re going to say when they stop talking. Actively listen to what they are saying and look them in the eyes while they are speaking. When you give that kind of attention and respect to someone they will give it back to you.
Don’t Use Guilt
If you grew up in a household where you were guilted by a parent or a sibling you know how awful a guilt trip can make you feel. Don’t do that to someone else. Be clear and up front about your needs and wants and don’t try to manipulate the other people into acting the way you want them to act out of guilt.
Don’t Bring Up Past Mistakes
One of the quickest ways to send a conversation off track is to keep bringing up a past mistake the other person has made. You may bring it up to illustrate your point but the other person will only feel attacked and hopeless if you continue to try and punish them for a past mistake. The mistake is in the past so leave it there. Keep your attention and your words focused on solving the problem at hand in a cooperative and productive way so that you both get what you need and want from the conversation.