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A Guide to Being Assertive

Oct 11, 2007
Have you ever really wanted to say no to someone? Perhaps a friend asked you to do something for them, and you just didn't have time, or had to put something important on the back burner in order to be able to do it. Maybe you wanted to say no to your spouse. A lot of people find themselves in this situation, and while they really want to say no, they don't.

One reason is the fear that someone will no longer like you, or will think you're rude, snobby, etc. However, learning how to say no is something we all must do. We simply can't accommodate everyone all the time. We also must worry about our own needs and desires.

Being assertive is being able to say no in a way that is clear and understandable, while at the same time still caring about the other person's feelings. It is also being able to communicate and express your desires, wishes and feelings about any area of your life. A person who is a healthy, assertive person is able to do these things without concern that the other person will no longer like them.

A healthy, assertive person is also able to say no, or communicate desires and wishes without feeling self-conscious or guilty for doing it. For example, if your boss continues to place someone else's work on your desk, day in and day out because the other person is slacking off, you should be able to tell him that you won't do it.

This doesn't mean that you want to get angry with your boss, or give him a piece of your mind. You probably do, but being assertive is different from telling someone off. You might say something to him like, "I just can't take extra work today. I'm very busy with my own work. You will need to find someone else, or perhaps try and get my co-worker to finish up his own work." Plain and simple. That's all you had to say, and it didn't sound rude or disrespectful. You clearly stated that you were not going to take extra work, and you didn't apologize or act guilty.

When people clearly state their needs and desires in a way that is not rude, or unfriendly, others will understand. Unless they are unreasonable individuals, most people respect and appreciate the fact that you are honest with them, even if your answer is no. A lot of people stay frustrated all the time, because they are unable to communicate their desires and feelings. Marriages end from this reason all the time.

A wife who is tired, who works all day and then comes home to clean the home and do the laundry and all of the other house hold chores will probably be very frustrated if she doesn't clearly communicate her need for help in that area. This anger and frustration will build and build until there is the potential for a blow up. Think of the poor husband. His wife is going to be morphing into the Hulk right in front of him and he has absolutely no idea why. She should have communicated these things. All she ever had to say was, "Honey, I feel like I could really use some help around the house. Would you mind taking on some of the chores?"

Being assertive is very different from being aggressive. You don't want to attack the other person. Simply state your needs and desires in a friendly way. You should use assertion when you feel the need to communicate things with another individual. If you are being asked to do something that you just can't do comfortably, this is the time to be assertive.

You want to look the other person in the eye, keep your facial features relaxed, and state your desires and needs. You don't have to be rude or mean to another person in order to convey your feelings about something to them. You simply have to be assertive, and have the confidence to follow through with your statement without feeling guilty or low. If more people exercised their right to be assertive, there would be less confusion, and less friction or problems that arise from no communication.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of My-Personal-Growth.com, a site that provides information and articles for self improvement and personal growth and development.
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