Is it necessary to be self-confident to be assertive? It will certainly help but it’s not necessary as being assertive is also about understanding the appropriate language, ideas and technique involved. So why is being more assertive desirable? Some would say that it’s about getting what you want, but what about the idea that it’s more about asserting who it is you are, what you stand for and believe in. In fact assertiveness can simply be seen as a stance for asserting your rights and needs, once you have a clear sense of what those are. In that way being assertive enables us to be clearer on our expectations and agreements with others, while also releasing ourselves from the risk of excessively suppressing our throughs and feelings. Suppression of this kind is likely to lead to either passive or aggressive communication style over time, from the resulting frustration we feel.
Being assertive can clearly enhance our lives, and particularly so in the work place, where many suffer from not being assertive. Take the following example as a simple illustration.
Your boss storms into the office and says there has been a mistake in a delivery and accuses you of being carless and a poor supervisor. Here are three possible responses:
- Say that you’re right and apologise saying you should have checked and that you’ll get it sorted out right away.
- To suggest that your boss got out of the wrong side of bet that morning and say you’ll ignore their remarks, stating that they’re obviously not themselves today.
- To apologise that you made a mistake with the order however to point out that saying your carless is inaccurate and that you resent their remarks about your supervisory skills. You add that your standards and those of my team are high and mistakes sometimes happen.
Clearly answer 3 is the assertive response whereas the others are passive and aggressive. For some this style of response may not be easy, and many will feel a degree of anxiety and trepidation in asserting themselves if they are not use to is. But in the words of Susan Jeffers “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Fear is the natural feeling we get when something is worth doing and matters. It does take practice and being clear on what you are entitled to assert, so knowing your rights and needs is important. Like all things, practice is the key, so doing a workshop and/or finding a buddy to work through exercises and role play are excellent ways of getting better. And while practice may not make you perfect it may well make you more assertive and with that increase your self-confidence. Don’t wait to get better simply assert yourself now in becoming more assertive.