Every day, be it at work, at home or in public, we communicate with our loved ones and even people we just bump into along the way. In these conversations, it’s important that we are mindful of how we look, how we behave, what we say, and how we say it. All of these factors are crucial in creating and preserving amiable relationships that provide everyone mutually-beneficial social connections and positive feelings.
Imagine a scenario where we just mind our own business. Nobody talks to one another. It’s boring, isn’t it? How about a situation in which the moment we start talking, animosity develops instantly. It’ll be chaos.
We all need to interact one way or another and when we do, it is very important that the right words are spoken, the right tone is delivered, and the right body language is shown. Our actions or behaviors are all prone to misinterpretations and when some sensitive buttons are pushed, inadvertently or not, relationships are at stake.
That’s where assertiveness comes in.
Most dictionaries define being assertive as simply being confident and determined. However, being such is much more than that. After all, it came from its root word, assert that means ‘to express something positively’ whether it’s a standpoint or anything else.
Therefore, to be assertive is to be confident yet positive. We don’t want to come across as annoying. Really, there’s a fine line between being bold and being arrogant. We don’t want to cross the line.
The first step to learning and mastering being assertive is possessing a positive outlook and allowing ourselves to dwell on happy thoughts and optimism instead. True enough, what we say is a product of how and what we think. Therefore, if our impressions are favorable, there’s no need to worry about hurting other people’s feelings or being hated for having an unbearable attitude.
Next is to remember the following. Being assertive is…
- Standing up for our rights while still respecting others.
- Defending our own boundaries while not crossing other people’s lines.
- Expressing our own opinion, need, and feelings without hurting others.
- Disagreeing without being disagreeable.
In other words, one of the old golden rules very much applies in assertiveness.
Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.
It’s never wrong to protect our rights and vocalize them. It’s not a mortal sin, just the same, for us to express our viewpoints. The freedom of expression still exists. Nobody can tell us to say no when we need, have, should, or must to. That’s basic. Nevertheless, if we have any care for relationships, personal, work, or whatever it is, it’s very helpful to mind our manners and be assertive.
Two of the most simple yet perennially-effective approaches to assertiveness are:
- Think first before we speak.
Let’s keep in mind T.H.I.N.K.
- Is it TRUE?
- Is it HELPFUL?
- Is it INSPIRING?
- Is it NECESSARY?
- Is it KIND?
If what we’re going to say, even do, is an affirmation of all of these, then we’re on the right path.
Another question we have to ask ourselves is ‘What would possibly happen or how would this person react if I say or do this?’. Assertiveness is about being proactive. It’s negating any possibility of the person we communicate with getting mad at us or disliking whatever we said or did and how we said or did it.
The other one is…
- Always improve ourselves.
As an influential training provider and training consultant in the Philippines, one of my philosophies that I share with corporate talents and students alike that I train and talk to is
Who you are, what you have become, and what you can do should always be a better version of who you were, what you became, and what you could do.
We should always be better than we were yesterday. If we ended up hurting other people’s feelings or burned the bridge with another person, we must always assess what we had said or done and how we can either correct, improve, or replace it the next time we see ourselves in the same predicament in the future.
Assertiveness, thus, is a very interesting knowledge, skill, or attitude to have. When we are assertive, as opposed to aggressive, when conversing and dealing with others, we develop harmonious relationships that we can leverage in our quest to become the best in what we do, to grow and develop as a person and as a professional in our respective businesses and careers, and to fulfill our aspirations in life and at work.
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