Powerful techniques to optimize your emotions, beliefs, and behaviors


Assertiveness is basically the appropriate expression of desires and feelings. To understand assertiveness we better note the difference between aggressive, assertive, and nonassertive behavior.

Aggressive behavior is based on demands rather than preferences. It has that absolutistic odor about it. The behavior is hostile and frequently punitive. Assertive behavior is based on preferences and wants. Those, who are assertive, will ask for changes. Nonassertive behavior can be witnessed in shyness and indirect behavior.

Most problems with assertiveness often come from anxious beliefs that block the expression of desires and feelings and our challenge with expressing ourselves either physically or with words.

Tips on Assertiveness

Watch out for hostility and extreme demandingness in your requests. Even though assertiveness will boost your chances for getting your requests met, it is not a guarantee.

We can express our feelings and criticize. Because our behavior produces consequences, there may be instances when acting assertively may be unhelpful.

When we say "no", we better be decisive. We don't have to explain why we said no. We don't have to be apologetic. If it's appropriate, we may suggest an alternative solution.

Role playing with a friend can be useful. Hey you can do this on an instant messenger.

Ask for an explanation whenever you're requested to do something unreasonable.

Be brief and prompt with your replies. Look the other person in the eyes. Speak clearly. Don't hide your mouth. No slouching or shuffling your feet.

We are the most important persons in our world for no one else has our particular consciousness or feelings. Others would do well to see themselves in this manner for they are important to themselves. Yet we are not the centers of the universe. Expect other folks to be assertive with us.

When criticizing, criticize behavior. Don't down the other person or negatively label them. People often respond defensively to personal attacks. However some people will even be defensive if you point out their behavior.

Changes in behavior take practice and time. If you miss acting assertively, let go of knocking yourself.

Use "I" statements when telling others about their behavior. "You" statements tend to impact on folks in a way that the likelihood of defensiveness is spawned.

Know that you acted assertively even though you did not get what you wanted.

No matter how you feel--just go ahead and act assertively. The more you act assertively, the more you will feel like it. Most times action precedes a change in feelings.

Typical beliefs blocking assertiveness:

"It's horrible to hurt someone's feelings."

"I'm always too anxious to speak up."

"If I asserted myself they wouldn't like me."

"A woman never acts pushy."

"Others can't stand being criticized."

"I could not stand hurting anyone's feelings."

"I don't want to be thought of badly."

"Others must suffer our silence for what they said."

"They should experience guilt."

"It's hopeless to say anything--they'll never change."

"The other person is insensitive and nasty."

"I'm worthless."

"Poor me--the innocent victim/martyr/saint."

"I can't show any weakness or the other person will know they won."

"Others should automatically know what I want. They should read my mind."

Don't waste your time trying to convince someone who does not want to be convinced.

Ask questions about a hostile person's criticisms. This makes a critic responsible for what they say. Example: "Do I always act this way?

Avoid apologizing for something over which you have no responsibility.

Learn to utilize calm periods. Let others know you are willing to talk after things have calmed.

Let others know how you feel without telling them off.

Admit a lack of understanding.

Be persuasive--give examples for your case.

Ask for assistance.

Watch out for demanding you always be assertive.

When we believe our desires and feelings are less important than other folks' desires and feelings, we act passively.

Assertiveness enables us to speak up, act in our best interests, get what we want without stepping on others, and be honest.

Remember that fairness, injustice, and right imply our way is the only right way and just way. When we demand fairness we set ourselves up for challenges. Likely others don't share the same view of fairness nor must they. Do labor and management ever have the same view of what is fair and just? Hardly.

Give sincere compliments and be ready to accept them.

Initiate meeting others and making friends.

Integrate or process beliefs and feelings that limit your free expression.

Speak positively of yourself to strangers. Notice some of your positive behaviors and traits.

Make a goal of expressing yourself to others a certain number of days.

In saying no, say no with a clear, firm, and unhesitant voice. Keep eye contact.

In refusing requests, review your values. Repeat back the other person's request so they know you understood them. Be brief and firm in your refusal.

Give compliments in terms of how you feel and believe. Let go of embroidering your compliments with absolutes or facts. Compliment something specific the person does. Example: I feel good about you cleaning my Luger collection. In taking a compliment, don't block a compliment given you. Thank the other person for their compliment.

In giving criticism, relax and provide criticism with "I" statements. Criticize behavior not the person. Be prepared to offer a suggested behavior change and show a willingness to compromise. Open your criticism with a positive statement. Close with a positive statement. Keep tone of voice firm.

When you experience criticism, let go of debate, defense, and attacking. Look for some grain of truth in the criticism. Ask clarifying questions: When, where, and what happened. Find a workable compromise.

Take care, Steve


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