“Assertive behavior promotes equality in human relationships. Enabling us to act in our own best interest, to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to express honest feelings comfortably, to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others.”
Your Perfect Right by Robert Alberti & Michael Emmons
Assertive behavior is being able to stand up for self without undue anxiety and to express honest ideas and legitimate feelings without denying the rights of others. Assertive behavior does not come naturally. Here are some steps to becoming assertive.
1. Become aware of your own behavior and attitudes. It is easy to get along when things are going smoothly, but under pressure agreeable behavior often turns to control. Because we see behave sensibly most of the time, we may be unaware of how passive or aggressive we may become at times. Observe your behavior for assertiveness when not under pressure and replicate that behavior in stressful situations.
2. Observe and emulate an effective role model. See someone who handles a difficult situation well and begin to take those character qualities for you own. A note about role models: one person will not be the answer to all situations. Just because the person is a good example in one area, does not mean he/she is to be emulated in all areas. It really does take a village.
3. Take personal responsibility for your actions, your attitudes and your agendas. Do not blame others. He/she may have done something irritating, but he did not “make you mad.” You chose to become angry in an attempt to control the situation. Become aware of your agendas. Why does this matter so much to you?
4. Self-evaluate your actions, attitudes and agendas. Be specific. Did it hurt? Who did it hurt? In what ways did it hurt? Did it help? How did it help?
5. Make a plan. Just wishing and hoping will not bring effective change. Make concrete plans to stop negative behaviors. Make conscious efforts to stop bad attitudes. First, change your verbiage. Do not call the person names or say ugly things, even if you have to bite your tongue. Second, curtail your actions. Do not throw things or gesture wildly. Third, modify your thinking. Give some latitude. Realize that you do not know where the other person is coming from, what he thinks or how she feels. Fourth, and this one comes about automatically, your feelings begin to change. You begin to feel good about you and being in effective control of yourself. You also may begin to feel empathy or compassion for the errant one. You have more control over the talking, doing and thinking, than you do over the feeling, but it will follow suit.
6. Imagine yourself in a similar situation again and handling things differently. Do not nurse, curse and rehearse the situation; that leads to becoming angrier. Tiger Woods pictures himself making the shots before going onto the green. See yourself handling the difficult situations in a pleasant, assertive manner.
7. Get feedback. Ask, “How am I doing?” Ask for genuine input, not to feed your ego or to become supersensitive.
8 Get bottom line honest. This is really the secret of accomplishing numbers
No matter how many excuses you may impose, the bottom line is we are each self-determining and are each responsible for our behavior. Assertive behavior is treating others fairly while teaching them to be fair with you.