In a perfect world, speaking up for ourselves would be easy. We could tell our boss that we feel unappreciated. We could tell our (ex-)friend about the anger we have been feeling for months because they just stopped talking to us! But in the real world, speaking up can be difficult and overwhelming and we might easily be misunderstood.
The essence of healthy relationships and effective personality lies in assertive behavior. The flak of assertive communication (especially involving an assertive woman) is that it is aggressive, pushy and disrespectful.
What is assertiveness? Simply put,
An assertive person is clear, honest and true to their self in their communications, all the while respecting the other person’s rights.
Below we present 7 ways of practicing assertive living.
I have the right to choose.
My career, my hobbies, my relationships, values, and priorities. I have the right to choose what’s best for me.
I have the right to make mistakes.
I make mistakes and I learn from them. Others may try to make me believe that my errors were unforgivable and I should make amends. But my responsibility is to accept the consequences of my mistakes and not let the opinion of others control my decision making or future behavior.
I have the right to say “NO” and not feel guilty.
I cannot say NO because I feel it will make me look selfish. So, I end up placing the wants of other people before mine. This feeling is self-defeating. I should learn the power of a positive NO. It has a tone of a declaration, a feeling of empowerment.
I have the right to feel and express my feelings.
Emotions are a natural part of human life. Some feel it more than others. I have the right to feel all the emotions- from joy to anger, as long as my anger does not have a negative effect on others.
“When you continually interrupt me during presentations, I don’t get a chance to voice my opinion, and I feel marginalized.”
I have the right to change my mind.
Our needs and interests change over time, and so do the demands of our surroundings. Changing my mind according to changing situations shows flexibility. Changing my mind is not a sign of irresponsibility or fickle-mindedness; it is normal, healthy and conducive to self-growth.
I have the right to be respected.
I deserve to be treated with respect irrespective of my age, gender, profession, ethnicity and all the other labels people identify me with.
I have the right to ask for what I want.
In asking for what we want, we often become aggressive leading to bad feelings and damaged relationships. The core of assertiveness is that the other person does not have to second-guess what’s in my mind. Asking for what we want gives the other person permission to clearly and directly ask for what she/he wants too.
An assertive message can be effective on the spot or it is quite possible that the other person might react negatively. The results are far from guaranteed. But in the end, it is a win-win situation for you because you finally got the courage to voice your actual feelings!
Since you’re here…
…Are there any more assertive rights that should make it to the list? Post them in the comments below and we will try to make another list!