Facets Of Assertiveness

Dr. Purushothaman
September 30, 2013

Assertiveness has many facets. It is a way of behaving. It is a way of thinking. It is also a way of resolving conflict. These different facets are like the faces of a diamond; they reflect different views of the same thing. Here are 7 facets of the Assertiveness diamond.

1. Acting Assertively

If Assertiveness doesn't come easily to you, you can act your way into it. First, think win-win whatever situation you're in. Then, when you are engaged in exchanges with others, relax. Be fluid, real and honest. Ground yourself in the present. Free yourself from fear. Every time you slip into one of the other modes of aggression or submissiveness, simply move yourself back into the open mannerisms of Assertiveness.

2. Speaking Assertively

Just as you can adopt the body language of an assertive person, and in the process become more assertive, so you can practise the speaking tones of an assertive person. Speak to a purpose. Don't say anything to put people down. Don't put yourself down. Use short, clear words and phrases with a firm, warm, sincere tone. Every time you feel yourself slipping into the rambling, apologetic and hesitant tones of the submissive mode, or the loud, angry, and belligerent tones of the aggressive mode, quietly slip back into the assertive tone of voice.

3. Win-Win Outcomes

The strategies adopted by the aggressive person and the submissive person are designed to establish a winning or losing position vis-a-vis others. The aggressive person wants you to listen to them and do what they say now. The submissive person wants you to leave them alone now. Both of these modes want instant resolutions. The assertive mode doesn't worry about instant victories. They know that life isn't about winning and losing but about everyone winning, even if this is a process that takes time.

4. Assertive Rights

Assertive rights are one of the trademarks of the assertive movement. These are not legal rights but basic human rights. They are not written down but stem from any situation you find yourself in. They include: the right to say No to things you don't want to do; the right to be heard with respect; the right to stay quiet; the right to change your mind; the right to make mistakes. The unassertive person dares not have these rights. The aggressive person demands them for themselves but not for others.

5. Problem-Solving

Tuning in to our assertive rights allows us to handle difficult situations with assertiveness. Let's say you live next door to someone who regularly plays loud music late at night. Your rights to a quiet night's sleep are infringed. You might do nothing and the situation goes unresolved. You might get angry and call the police but your neighbour then gets angry and plots revenge. The assertive route sees you calling on your neighbour and trying to work out a win-win solution to the problem.

6. An Assertive Sequence

There are various ways to resolve a situation where you feel your rights are being infringed without getting angry or giving in. Here is one using the mnemonic LASSIE. It starts with you outlining the situation to the other person, and follows with:

L for Listen to their point of view
A for Acknowledge what they say
S for Say what you honestly think and feel
S for Say what you would like to happen
I for Indicate what the differences are
E for Explore win-win solutions.

7. Natural Assertion

Although assertiveness lacks the heated emotion of the angry aggressive or the trembling fear of the timid submissive, it is not empty of feeling. You can be assertive by letting others know your feelings, for example, in spontaneous outbursts of positive enjoyment. "Great meeting!" "Well done!" "That was an excellent report!"

The beauty of Assertiveness is that it has two bedfellows - anger and fear - that are not at all like it. No matter what situation you are in, you can always take a rain check on how you are thinking, behaving, or feeling. Then when you know what mode you are in, you can shift yourself and your thoughts, behavior, and emotions to where you would rather be.


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