Survival guide: Be assertive but not aggressive
It becomes essential to develop an assertiveness to be able to stand for one’s rights yet not compromise on one’s self-respect and to help the person be able to climb the ladder of success.Updated: Feb 02, 2016, 18:54 IST
In addition to the hard work and other qualifications required to be successful in accomplishing one’s goals, being able to express and communicate one’s thoughts and needs to the other person is a pre-requisite. Especially in today’s competitive world, it becomes essential to develop an assertiveness to be able to stand for one’s rights yet not compromise on one’s self-respect and to help the person be able to climb the ladder of success.
Don’t mistake assertiveness for aggression: While it is important to be able to take a stand for yourself, it is more important not to forget yourself in the process. Getting aggressive can not only lead to malign and other adverse consequences for your well-being, but is also likely to create hindrances in the path to success.
Focus on expressing yourself: The purpose of communication is to convey your message and thoughts across to the other person in a simple, clear and precise way. Try to use straightforward statements focussing on yourself rather than the other person.
Respect yourself: Unless you do not respect your own self, you would not be able to demand the respect of others. Being assertive does not make you selfish, and you need not feel guilty for turning down another person’s request if it is unreasonable for you.
Be persistent: It is important to show consistency in the way you respond to a particular situation. In fact, using the broken record technique, of simply repeating yourself several times can be more effective than trying to reason and come up with more explanations to placate the other person.
Confident body language: In addition to what you say, non-verbal cues play a very important role. Therefore, try to maintain an eye contact, and have an upright posture.
Rehearse: Often we are faced with situations in which we find it difficult to be assertive at that moment. It is also useful to practice what to say. One can even rehearse in front of the mirror, so that you feel more prepared at the actual situation.
Don’t be guilty: Just because you are refusing a favour or turning down another person’s request, does not mean you hold yourself responsible for hurting the other person. If the other person’s request is unreasonable or not feasible for you, it is necessary for you to say a ‘no’, without feeling guilty, as nobody has the right to take advantage of your politeness.
One rule doesn’t fit all: Lastly, remember that the same rule book cannot be applicable across all situations. Therefore it is important for you to use your judgement and be selective when or when not be assertive. While being assertive cannot ever get you into trouble, but often it is wiser to pick your battles and save up on your resources to fight for the situations which are worth your efforts. Being assertive all the time, even when not necessary is not a good idea.
(The author is director, mental health and behavioural sciences at Fortis Healthcare)