Assertiveness training is a way to learn how to empower yourself and stand up for your own rights. The goal is to find a balance between two extremes:
• Passive behavior: If you practice passive behavior, you habitually submit to other people’s demands. You don’t stand up for your own needs or try to influence others.
• Aggressive behavior: If you practice aggressive behavior, you try to dominate other people and typically treat them with disrespect. It doesn’t bother you to harm other people as long as you get your own way.
People who suffer from low self-esteem typically exhibit passive behavior. They may be accustomed to being treated by others as “a doormat”. Often this type of behavior is a habit. Habits can be broken, but only with focus and effort.
If you have made a habit of being very passive, you may not be able to distinguish the difference between assertiveness and aggression. Assertive people defend their own rights and state their own opinions without being disrespectful of other people. Aggressive people are always on the attack. A simpler way to put it is that an aggressive person values himself more than others. An assertive person sees himself as being equal to others.
Assertiveness means standing up for your own rights without infringing on the rights of other people. Here are some other characteristics of assertive people:
• You can accept compliments. A sign of healthy assertiveness is the ability to accept compliments without shrugging them off.
• You can express your feelings and opinions. An assertive person has no problem letting others know what he thinks or feels.
• You are not afraid to disagree with others. An assertive person is not afraid to let others know that he disagrees with them. It isn’t necessary to be hostile, but it is also not necessary to hold your tongue just to keep the peace.
• You speak up for your rights. When others ask you to do something that invades your boundaries, you have no problem refusing. You don’t let others taken advantage of you.
Assertiveness training is a way to learn to be more assertive. There are many benefits for learning to be more assertive, such as the following:
• You will improve your sense of self-respect and self-confidence.
• You will feel more in control of your own life
• You will feel less stressed
• You will feel less resentful of other people
• You will be able to say no to doing things you don’t really want to do.
How do you improve your assertiveness skills? There are several possibilities:
• Face to face classes or seminars
• Online classes
• CDs or tapes
You can also decide to undergo assertiveness training on your own. Keep a journal of your behavior and how you might have behaved differently. This is a new skill that will take awareness and practice.
Recognize that you deserve to be treated with respect, and so do other people. Begin taking baby steps toward improvement. Awareness is the first step toward change.