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What is an Assertive Behavior and What Gauges Can be Used to Classify People Who Have It?

Sep 6, 2008
Being assertive and the lack of assertiveness are both linked to everyday communication. People take communication for granted and just dismiss it as one of the many complexities of daily life. Having an understanding of the process of communication will allow anyone to be more aware and point out areas in which assertiveness could be applied. For assertiveness to be infused into daily communication, the person will need to understand what assertiveness really is.

Assertiveness versus Aggressiveness

Assertiveness, in its most basic form, means the expression of a person's needs, his wants, and opinions. All these aspects should be expressed clearly without any violation to other people's rights. Assertiveness is sometimes misconstrued as aggressiveness. This is quite wrong as these two behaviors are at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Aggressiveness is the act of expressing a person's wants, needs, feelings and opinions without any regard for the right of others. This behavior clearly focuses on selfishness and being able to express feelings at the expense of other people. Many people do not understand the major difference between being aggressive and being positively assertive.

There are various opinions when it comes to the definition of assertiveness. Some people believe that this behavior means standing one's ground, pushing for every want and never buckling in the process. Others think of assertiveness as being pleasant while being resolute on a certain opinion. Unfortunately, for most of these people, both definitions are far from correct.

Assertiveness is a natural way of interacting with other people. This interaction must be done in an honest, respectful, yet very direct way. All healthy relationships are founded on an open communication that is full of assertiveness. Assertion indicates that an individual has respect for the feelings of other people as well as much respect for himself. This means that an assertive person knows his rights, exercises them, yet would not use harm anyone's feelings in the process of expressing these very rights. This also means that an assertive person views himself as an equal to other people (never more superior or inferior).

How to be Assertive despite Being Bullied

Since an assertive individual does not look down on other people, he must also inculcate in himself that he would not be an underdog to others as well. People, who become aggressive in driving their ideas and making others accept them, often tend to forget that they hurt people's feelings. An assertive individual who experiences maltreatment from an aggressive person must remember not to take things personally.

If, on the other hand, a person's assertiveness causes offense with other people, it would be best to soften the assertive behavior a few notches just so feelings don't get hurt. This doesn't mean becoming too submissive, though. If one person takes offense for the way that an assertive person expressed an idea or opinion, then the assertive person must understand and find out what caused the offense--and correct it. The whole idea of being assertive is the ability to express feelings without causing offense and also taking responsibility for all the words that go out of one's mouth.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full meaning of assertiveness. There are many aspects and levels to this simple word and becoming an expert at its deeper meaning would really take time.
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