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Being assertive can be beneficial in a variety of social settings, although there can also be consequences to being excessively assertive. While some people are naturally more assertive than others, you can learn to be assertive fairly easily.
This article will cover assertiveness and its benefits, as well as how to best teach yourself to be assertive, particularly at work. Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Positive Psychology Exercises for free.
These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees. You can download the free PDF here.
This last point about equality is key, as being assertive is about securing what one feels is fair, not simply about manipulating people into giving one what they want. The difference is that assertive people seek to gain rights to put them on an equal footing with others, while aggressive people simply seek to gain rights.
This distinction shows why assertiveness is considered a healthy, prosocial behavior while aggression is not. Some literature considers aggressive behaviors to be a subset of assertiveness rather than a distinct behavior Ames et al. There has also been a demonstrated positive relationship between assertiveness and self-esteem in nursing students Ilhan et al. These benefits do not just come from constantly acting assertively, though. In other words, the greatest benefits from assertiveness come from knowing when to be assertive rather than always being assertive, as well as knowing how assertive one should be.
Assertiveness can also serve as a protective factor. In some women who had just given birth, having higher levels of assertiveness meant they were less likely to develop postpartum depressive symptoms Skowron et al. Two single minute assertiveness training sessions separated by a month have been shown to ificantly increase assertiveness in nurses Nakamura et al.
These sessions were made up of a lecture on assertiveness and small-group roleplaying to practice assertiveness. This procedure has also been used with success on International students in the United States Tavakoli et al. Based on these findings, one way to train oneself to be assertive would be to learn how to be assertive, then practice being assertive on a friend or family member in a no-stakes roleplaying situation.
Of course, in both the Nakamura and Tavakoli studies, trained professionals delivered the lectures on assertiveness, which most people reading this will not have access to. The roleplaying aspect, however, can be performed by anyone and practiced as many times as necessary. For example, an office worker might often get upset with their coworker for being rude in the mornings, and might aggressively respond with anger towards that coworker.
Once the office worker knows the difference between aggression and assertiveness, though, they can change the way they think about the situation to lead to an assertive response rather than an aggressive response. In this case, they might remember that their coworker has just had a baby and may not be sleeping well, leading the office worker to offer their coworker coffee and ask if they can help with anything. The above research on training assertiveness can easily be adapted for someone who wants to teach themselves to be more assertive.
The first step is learning what assertiveness is and what it looks like, as well as the difference between assertiveness and aggression.
Roleplaying assertiveness can also go a long way in training oneself to be more assertive. It is not just a matter of being assertive at work, it is a matter of being the right amount of assertive. That means understanding the difference between important times to stand up for oneself and less-important issues that one can concede.
For example, it would be important to be assertive when asking for vacation time or a raise, but it is not necessarily important to be assertive when someone is picking where to eat lunch. While being assertive generally le to better outcomes in many aspects of life, being overly assertive can also hurt relationships.
In other words, one should use assertiveness simply to secure equality for themselves, and never to take away from someone else. This last part is an important aspect of positive psychology. The teachings of positive psychology are not meant to simply benefit those who study positive psychology, but are meant to benefit society as a whole.
Learning about assertiveness and how it can benefit not only you but also the people around you is just one step towards a more just and equal world. We hope you enjoyed reading this article. How useful was this article to you? Not useful at all Very useful 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Submit Share this article:. Since then, his work has included writing for PositivePsychology. Thank you for your wonderful guidance.
I would like to get more activities that can be given to understand and relieve stress. Glad you enjoyed the post. Alberti, R. Atascadero, CA: Impact Publishing. Ames, D. Interpersonal assertiveness: Inside the balancing act. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 11 6e What breaks a leader: The curvilinear relation between assertiveness and leadership.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92 2 Oxford Living Dictionaries. Ibrahim, S. Factors affecting assertiveness among student nurses. Nurse Education Today, 31 4 The effect of nurse education on the self-esteem and assertiveness of nursing students: A four-year longitudinal study.
Nurse Education Today, 39 1 Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6 6 Development and evaluation of a modified brief assertiveness training for nurses in the workplace: a single-group feasibility study. BMC Nursing, 16 1 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 18 1 The role of assertiveness and cognitive flexibility in the development of postpartum depressive symptoms. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 32 4 Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56 4 Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 33 3 European Psychologist, 21 2 Not useful at all Very useful.
Share this article:. Please let us know what we can improve. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Raji on 19 September at Nicole Celestine on 19 September at Hi Riji, Glad you enjoyed the post.
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The Quick Guide to Assertiveness: Become Direct, Firm, and Positive