As I was researching this topic of assertiveness, I realized there is a stigma that needs to be addressed. Assertiveness is not aggression. Assertiveness is also not passivity. What assertiveness is is the seeking of mutual gain through healthy confrontation. It seems that naturally more passive people think that assertive people are aggressive, and, interestingly, it seems also that naturally more aggressive people think less-than-bold assertive people are passive. It’s a strange continuum, but regardless, you want to be at the assertive stage in that line.
So why is assertiveness important? We live in a very demanding world. Other people are demanding of our time and resources, and often, the return on your investment in those situations can be very low. Sometimes it will pay off, but I believe that a majority of the time, you will lose out. Assertiveness is the ability to say “no” to something good so you can say “yes” to something better. Assertiveness is your protection from people walking over you like a door mat.
This is where the quote for the week comes into play. Assertiveness is an important skill in relationships, but it is not a manipulative one. It’s important that, in negotiations, debates, and other “joint undertakings,” both parties benefit. Assertiveness does not allow for one person or the other to end up with the short end of the stick – it is designed so that the two people in a relationship get as close to an equal share of the stick as possible without any substantial, one-sided sacrifice.
Are you an assertive person? What can you do to become more assertive about your needs and desires? Are you too passive? Too aggressive?