Updated: Jun 23
"Many people find it difficult to ask for what they want and need."
According to a study conducted in 2022, 75% of individuals under 35 have missed out on work opportunities due to a lack of assertiveness. As a result, they settled for less than what they initially wanted and deserved.
Speaking up for yourself can feel uncomfortable when you're not used to it. You may fear upsetting others or being rejected. You may worry about inconveniencing others or fear coming across as needy or incompetent. These fears, however, are generally unfounded ––studies in assertiveness suggest that people tend to respect assertive people.
This article will discuss what it means to be assertive, why it's important, and how you can learn this vital social skill ––that is linked to numerous benefits, such as increased self-esteem, improved relationships, and enhanced quality of life, to name a few.
What Is Assertive Communication
Assertive communication is clear, direct, and respectful. It involves acknowledging and valuing the perspectives and limits of others and your own.
In essence, it is an effective and respectful way of communicating with others. Studies show that individuals who express their wants and needs effectively are likelier to accomplish their goals and foster harmonious relationships with others than those who use a passive or aggressive communication style.
5 Key Traits of an Assertive Communicator
Direct eye contact communicates confidence. However, it's important to remember not to stare. Prolonged eye contact can be unsettling and may come across as creepy.
Positive body language. To exude confidence, it's important to have a strong yet relaxed posture ––no slouching or threatening body posture. For example, towering over someone with your hands on your hips may be perceived as aggressive and intimidating. In contrast, lowering your head and slumped shoulders can be considered weak and submissive.
Voice tonality. A strong and confident voice communicates assertiveness. Raising your voice, however, can be perceived as aggressive. Doing so can antagonize others and hinder the effectiveness of your message. To communicate effectively, it's best to speak clearly and respectfully while remaining calm and composed.
Clear communication. When communicating, keep your message clear, concise and respectful. Over-explaining can create confusion and misunderstandings, which may reduce the effectiveness of your message ––remember, less is often more. For example, instead of saying, "Can you please stop doing that? It's really annoying and disrespectful." try, "Can you please put your phone away while we're talking?" the latter is clear and more effective.
Positive Language. When making requests, using positive rather than negative language is best. For instance, instead of saying, "Can you stop making such a mess?" say, "Can you please pick up your clothes and put them in the laundry room?". The goal is to clearly express what you want the other person to do instead of pointing out what they're doing wrong. When making requests, it's important to avoid criticism.
When to Be Assertive:
When it comes to being assertive, there are situations in which it is essential to speak up. Here are five examples:
When dealing with salespeople or telemarketers.
When dealing with unreasonable requests.
When someone is disrespecting your boundaries.
When someone is pressuring you to do something, you don't want to do.
When someone is not following on their commitments.
10 Benefits of Assertive Communication
Higher Self Worth
Stronger & Healthier Relationships
Lower Stress Levels
Improved Communication Skills
Reduced Chances of Being Forced or Manipulated into Unwanted Situations
Increased Likelihood of Achieving Your Goals
Difference between Assertive & Aggressive Communication
Many people mistakenly believe that being assertive is the same as being aggressive ––this is not the case. Assertive communication is respectful ––toward others and towards yourself. Aggressive communicators often lack empathy and respect. They tend to prioritize their own needs over the needs of others and can become frustrated and angry when they don't get their way.
Assertive communication is an essential life skill. This skill is particularly important when learning to stand up for yourself and establishing healthy boundaries with others.
There are many ways for parents to encourage assertive behaviour in their children. Modelling the desired behaviour is generally one of the most effective ways, as children learn by observation. There is a variety of literature and research done on the subject. You can also find valuable tools right here, at skillbuildr.com
Developing your assertive skills is worth the effort due to the many benefits that are linked to it ––such as improved confidence, better relationships, decreased stress and anxiety, increased self-respect, the ability to communicate effectively and enhanced quality of life.
Assertiveness is a social skill necessary for our personal and professional success. These skills help us deal with others, build resilience and enable us to thrive in today's world. Developing the right skills is a must to reach our true potential and accomplish our dreams.