Has anyone ever told you to be more assertive? Have you ever wished you could say what you really thought? Assertiveness is the balance between aggression and passivity--that sweet spot where you feel like you've been true to yourself and honest with others about where you stand. Assertiveness doesn't
always come naturally, especially for women who are often socialized to behave more passively. The good news is that anyone can learn to be assertive through practice. Here are some basic beliefs and "rights" that every person has. These beliefs will guide you to more assertiveness in your relationships!
You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions. You don't have to agree with the judgments of others. With this right comes the responsibility for managing your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions.
You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior. Seriously! Sometimes you just want to say "no." You don't have to have a good reason for declining an offer. I practice my assertiveness when a salesperson come to the door. I say, "I'm not interested right now." Sometimes they want reasons, but I proceed to shut the door on them because I don't owe them an explanation. (But if it's a little kid, I'm nice. Ha!)
You have the right to judge whether you are responsible for finding the solutions to other people's problems. Just because someone wants you to find a solution for them doesn't mean that you must. And sometimes you honestly don't have a solution. Of course there will be people in your life that you want to help, and that's great!
You have the right to change your mind. Sometimes with more information, further consideration, or change of mood, we will change our mind. Don't feel pressure from others to hold to a decision or opinion that has evolved into something else.
You have the right to make mistakes--and be responsible for them. Everyone makes mistakes. As long as we are taking appropriate responsibility, we can move on and forgive ourselves.
You have the right to say, "I don't know." We are not required to have all the answers. Besides, pretending like we do is a major turn-off!
You have the right to be independent of the good will of others before dealing with them. This means that we are not obligated to be nice to someone if they are nice to us! This becomes evident around Christmas. How many times have you scrambled around for a gift because someone gave you a gift and you weren't planning on getting one for them? In reality, you are free to give gifts to whomever you please no matter what they have done or have not done for you.
You have the right to make illogical decisions. We don't always make decisions based on firm grounds of deductive reasoning. That's normal! Sometimes make decisions on a hunch, or with our heart.
You have the right to say, "I don't understand." It's fine to ask about something if you're not sure. You don't have to feel embarrassed.
You have the right to say, "I don't care." We may not have an opinion on every issue, and frankly, we may not even care enough to form an opinion. If we cared about everything from baby seals to HIV to what to have for dessert, we would get very overloaded--and very disappointed.
How many of these beliefs come naturally to you? Are you as assertive as you thought?