Assertiveness is a positive communication style.
It’s the ability to stand up for ourselves in an open, courteous manner.
Here’s what assertiveness entails:
You have the option of expressing your thoughts or feelings.
You have the option of requesting what you want or require.
You can respectfully disagree.
You have the ability to speak up for someone else.
You are welcome to provide your thoughts and suggestions.
You don’t have to feel bad about saying no.
How to become more Assertive takes practice and committment. Sometimes assertive and aggressive behaviours get mixed up.
The main difference between assertive and aggressive behaviour is that assertive behaviour respects others’ opinions while being open and confident enough to express their own, whereas aggressive behaviour assumes that their own opinions are always correct, thus being harsh to others and not respecting their opinions.
Part of being Assertive, is the ability to say No. You have your own life and time is not always available to help others out, so assertiveness used in the correct way, can influence the way you become and are seen by others. On the subject of saying no, it is also important how you say this word in conversation, so as not to upset anyone.
If you are typically the person that is dependable, and always available to help someone out, saying the word No, can be difficult for you. Do any of the following resonate with you?
Not wanting to let anyone down?
You want to be seen as a nice person.
I will be seen as rude if I don’t help.
I like to be depended upon by others.
I like to please others.
Usually, when someone comes to you and asks you to help or carry out a function on their behalf, they fully expect you to say Yes, as you always come across as eager to please. When you reply with the word No, any reasons or excuses you may give at this point will be ignored, as the person asking will be wondering if they heard correctly, and will ask you again.
You can turn a No into a ‘Not right now’, which can help diffuse any anomosity. You do not have to give a reason anyway. A smile and a firm but polite answer of No, is sufficient. You could go further and ask if you could make a suggestion, that you could help another day or time, or that someone else could help.
It is different if you are at work and your boss asks you to carry out a function as part of your employement, however, you have a right to say No, if the task is unreasonable or detrimental to your health. This is not the place to discuss employment law though!
Imagine a neighbour came to your home and asked you for a favour. They had a delivery of a bookcase arranged and required help to lift it up the stairs into a bedroom.
You have been feeling a twinge in your lower back recently, and as much as you want to help your neighbour, any lifting could damage your back further. A dilemma on what to do? You hate letting anyone down and this neighbour has always helped you in the past.
By being assertive and saying No, this looks and sounds good when it is written in a book or an article in the paper, but the reality of how you deal with the situation in your life, in the present, is down to how you say the word ‘No‘. I am emphasising this in bold, as this is the key to acceptance by the receiver of these letters, N and O.
If you were to say No, in a gruff, stern manner, the response you get will be the same and a breakdown in relationships is on the cards. However, if you are to be gentle and polite when stating the word No, and to look at how the neighbour is emotionally responding, you can gauge how best to move forward together in a positive way. If they are a reasonable person, they will accept your answer and move on, yet if they are unreasonable and unable to accept your answer, perhaps they are not the nice neighbour you thought they were!