‘It means I say whatever I want and don’t care’
‘It means I’m a bitch’
‘It means that I’m bossy and selfish since I always say what I want’
Just to clear things up, assertiveness has nothing to do with not caring about others, being a bitch, or being bossy or selfish. Assertiveness gets a bad rap and is unfairly confused with being aggressive.
Whereas the other 3 types of communication are all about winning and losing, assertiveness is about both people winning. There is no bitchy or selfishness in being assertive since there is no aspect of trying to put the other person down or to get something at their expense.
Assertiveness is about sharing your own truth, needs, wants, and perspective, while allowing the other person to have theirs too. When you are assertive you clearly state your needs and it is OK if someone disagrees with you or has a different idea. Understanding that you are responsible for your own feelings and needs is crucial – you do not blame others for how you feel or for what’s happening in your world.
1. Speaking from your own perspective – telling your own truth. This means ‘I’ statements. (PS – I think you’re a jerk is not an I statement!)
Assertive example: ‘Please don’t interrupt me. I feel disrespected and that you aren’t interested in what I’m saying.’
Aggressive example: ‘Quit interrupting me!!! (in a forceful angry tone) You always interrupt me and you’re so rude!’
Passive Aggressive (PA) example: (thinking to self) I’m just going to interrupt him when he speaks and see how he likes it
Passive example: Says nothing, but may build up and explode later.
2. Being clear and direct with your experience and your needs.
Assertive: ‘I’ve had a really hard week this week and I don’t feel like cooking. Let’s go to that Thai place for dinner.’
Aggressive: ‘Why don’t you ever cook?! I cook all the time and I’m sick and tired of it!’
PA: (thinking to self) I’m just going to not cook and get food for myself. Let’s see if he cooks or not.
Passive: (thinking to self) I guess I have to cook even though I don’t want to. I’m sooo tired. I’m sooo tired.
3. Making requests instead of commands or veiled hints
Assertive: ‘Would you please take out the trash. It looks like it needs to go out and it’s getting a bit smelly.’
Aggressive: ‘Take out the $*&ing trash! Why do I have to keep asking you to do that? Can’t you see the trash needs to be taken out?!’
PA: (when he wants to get saucy that night) ‘I’m too tired from doing the house chores tonight. Maybe if you’d help a little…’
Passive: Takes out the trash herself, but feels resentful and overwhelmed.
More on assertiveness in another post. But, until then tell me how assertive are you?