Benefits of Being Assertive: 7 Steps Toward Success
There are two different types of people that could benefit from learning to be more assertive: those with aggressive communication skills that use intimidation to accomplish their goals and those with passive communication skills that sacrifice their own needs in order to make other people happy (and tend to get taken advantage of). Neither of these behavioral styles is healthy. Assertive behavior is the sweet spot right in the middle based off of an understanding that you can work together for the mutual benefit of both. There are many benefits of being assertive. Assertiveness can greatly improve all of your relationships, whether it be with your partner or spouse, your boss and work colleagues, friends, and family. Assertiveness can also improve your overall self image and self confidence, reduce social anxiety, and help give you a better chance of getting what you want out of life.
What is Assertiveness?
According to the Mayo Clinic, assertiveness means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights, feelings, and beliefs of others.
Aggression is selfish behavior based off winning. Passive behavior is where you sacrifice your own preferences and needs so that you can help others to meet their preferences needs. Assertive behavior is based off balance and respect for yourself and others.
Being assertive is much easier said than done and won’t be achieved over night. Assertiveness can only be accomplished through having an awareness of what it means to be assertive and deciding to implement it into your life with patience, understanding, and
a lot of practice. There are many benefits of being assertive, a few of which I’ve outlined below.
Assertiveness Can Improve Many Aspects of Life
1. Improved Relationships: In successful relationships, both parties are often assertive. When you are both assertive, there is no need to mind read or make assumptions. You have the ability to convey your message in a thoughtful yet direct way that leads to less confusion and more clarity in your communication. When you are able to see your partner’s perspective and understand them better and vice versa, you both have the ability to express your needs and feelings openly and ultimately grow in closeness and intimacy. Assertiveness has a positive chain reaction effect on the entire relationship.
2. Improved Self Image: Being assertive will help you view yourself and the world around you in a more positive way. When you have the attitude of “I’m always right and they’re always wrong” or “I’m always wrong and they’re always right” you tend to view your relationships and encounters in a confrontational way, whether it’s coming from a place of dominance or submission. However, once you accept that you are neither inferior nor superior to anyone and that everyone has their own perspective, beliefs, and feelings, you can reframe yourself and the world around you in a healthier, less confrontational way based off of respect and mutual understanding.
3. Improved Self Confidence: If you are a passive person, assertiveness will improve your self confidence by minimizing self doubt. You won’t question your thoughts, decisions, and beliefs as much and will feel more comfortable expressing your opinions even if they aren’t accepted because you aren’t so fearful of making everyone else happy.
4. Reduced Social Anxiety: Social anxiety stems from a lack of self-confidence in social relationships. Once you become more assertive you will feel more comfortable expressing your thoughts and opinions without the fear of what others may think.
5. Better Chance of Getting What you Want Out of Life: Taking care of yourself while also considering the needs and feelings of others will help you advance in life. That could mean a happier and healthier marriage, a job promotion you’ve always wanted, or finally launching that small business. By being more assertive in your communication and behaviors, you are more likely to attract and attain what you want out of life as opposed to getting walked on by others or by being too passive or by pushing others out by being too aggressive.
7 Steps Toward Becoming More Assertive
1. Awareness: Simply having an awareness of the importance of assertiveness, along with the desire to want to change will help you toward becoming more assertive.
2. Assess Your Behavioral Style: What kind of behaviors and communication do you currently express towards others? Are you overly agreeable to avoid any form of confrontation in fear of upsetting others? Or do you expect others to do as you say through intimidation and control in order to achieve your own goals without thought of anyone else’s needs or feelings? Are you quick to judge? Or do you fear talking to others? Understanding your behavioral style can help bring about change.
3. Keep Emotions in Check: Confrontation can be difficult for more most people. When you possess either passive or aggressive characteristics, it’s easy to get emotionally triggered and thus lose control of assertiveness. When you are feeling emotionally charged in a situation to the point where you feel like you are losing control of your thoughts and reasoning, then walk away from the situation until you have calmed down and gather your thoughts in a way that you can express yourself in an assertive manner. Eventually after enough practice, you will be able to handle these types of situations without having to walk away.
4. Use “I” Statements: Using “I” statements is a good way of avoiding accusatory language since it allows you to take responsibility for what you are thinking and feeling instead of blaming the other person. For example:
“I disagree” sounds much less aggressive than “You are wrong.”
“I feel resentful when you do things on the weekends without me since we have not had time together in weeks” sounds much more heartfelt and less confrontational than “You must not care about me since you spend all your time doing other things.”
5. Keep Explanations Brief: Women especially have a tendency of “over explaining.” When we over explain something it can be perceived as weakness since it sounds like we are trying to convince ourselves. If we don’t sound confident in what we’re saying then we can’t possibly expect our message to be perceived the way we intended it. By being direct and to the point, you will be perceived as a strong and confident individual who should be respected.
6. Practice Practice Practice: Whichever behavioral traits you possess, assertiveness will take practice. If you’ve spent many years being a submissive or passive person, becoming more assertive won’t happen overnight. And if anger leads to your aggressive tendencies, anger management techniques may be necessary. However, like anything in life, enough practice will lead to habit and being more assertive will simply be your natural way of communicating.
7. Talk Therapy: Talk therapy can be a very beneficial path when learning how to be assertive. A good therapist can help you talk through the ups and downs of your progress and guide you toward how to alter your behavior and communication to get the results you are looking for.
Benefits of Being Assertive: Conclusion
As you have learned, there are many benefits of being assertive such as improved self image, self confidence, relationships, as well as reduced social anxiety. By becoming more assertive, you will begin to more easily express your feelings and needs and may even find that you get more of what you want out of life as a result.
Assertiveness will take time, perseverance, and practice. You will have your ups and downs along the way, but don’t give up. Your results will far outweigh any of the challenges.