Before we begin, ask yourself these questions- How comfortable are you saying “I could be wrong” in situations? And are you the person people normally go to for advice? That’s speaking how assertive you are as a person. Now, you must be thinking that ‘assertive’ by definition means being confident and having a strong personality. Well, although yes, but in terms of behavior- that’s a yes and no. Assertive behavior is the ability to be confident yet receptive towards other’s thoughts, opinions, and feelings.
Let’s take an example from our own lives to understand assertive behavior. Think of that one (or maybe two if you’re lucky) person you go to for advice or feel comfortable talking to about your problems. Now, think about why that person in particular? Is it his/her way of talking or their listening skills or is it just out of sheer respect of age? Possibly all three, but think deeply for a minute- did you ever notice that you feel relaxed around them, maybe because you’re more likely to trust them? And compare this with the set of people whose opinions you dismiss with and without a thought. There is a difference, right? This trust is a consequence of that person’s assertive behavior.
Behavior is a person’s way of expression. Being assertive is not just about being confident; it’s layered and yet so simple. Think it this way, we analyze our thoughts and feelings, so why not let opinions of others channel through the same filters of reception, absorption, consideration, analysis and forming a final thought? Think about it, in the above example, you agreed that because the person is receptive, you feel comfortable to speak freely. As a result of this, you are more open to listening to their views too. Being assertive in a nutshell is the ability to be put across views with conviction and yet be open to alternate views.
Now, what’s all this about being receptive to alternate views?
When you try to look at the areas of your life, you should be able to realize the varied types of people you have met and their differing personalities. Being assertive begins by first knowing all the other dominant types of behavior in people. Let’s take a ride back to childhood days, the simpler times no doubt.
Aggressive behavior: the wild child
Your least favorite person of all. Somebody who is constantly pushing down views in an aggressive manner because they’re “dead-sure” about their opinion is known to have aggressive behavior. Good teammate to have for debates though!
In a classroom full of children, you are placed at the center of the class. You look around and see the class topper whom everyone hates because they never share their homework and in an argument- always, always has an opinion. This is classic aggressive behavior. Oh, is it too rude to give an analogy through innocent children? All right, children are children after all so let’s give them the benefit of naivety. So instead, think about your office- one guy who shoots down every request of yours (don’t think about the office cleaners here- they will never change). Let’s be right by saying that they are your least favorite to collaborate for any and every work. In colloquial terms, you may call them rude but it’s actually the behavior of an aggressive person.
Passive behavior: the scaredy-cat
The one that frustrates you the most. Not because he/she has an annoying nature but annoys you because they never speak up for themselves. Always the one to back down no matter what is someone with passive behavior. Most of the times, you pity this guy!
Now, think of a guy in your office, perhaps from another team whom you always pity. Why? Because everybody throws their work at that guy. Also that guy is always the last to leave. Because that’s the guy the manager is always taking advantage of. Because you have never heard that guy saying a ‘no’. Well, firstly, don’t be that guy! This is a classic example of passive behavior. Do you remember that small kid with glasses who was always seen writing other people’s homework- that’s the one! You may argue that passive behavior is just about being nice and polite, but it’s actually letting people take undue advantage of you. What’s wrong with it is you may never grow in an organization, you may never stand out and ultimately, you’ll be a frustrated individual which let’s face it- nobody wants to be that guy!
Passive-aggressive behavior: a ticking time bomb
Often the one known to have destructive behavior. Either by choice or not, passive-aggressive behavior is a serious issue and in most cases, also the one that goes unrecognized by people around.
The third type is passive-aggressive behavior. They’re the kind with a lot of pent-up frustrations. In a way, we all have a side of us that’s dealt with this kind of behavior. When you’re angry or upset but you choose to hide it or avoid confrontation or find ways to disguise it– some people use humor, bullying or being sarcastic as a coping mechanism, it’s a sign that you are developing passive aggression.
In light of today’s times, we are hearing a lot of cases where people are unhappy or bending towards depression. There can be a lot of reasons for this- difficult childhood, negative outlook, or disinterest in general. They are the quintessential stubborn kind. And this attitude keeps building inside them. This person seems to appear fine on the outside but has a whirlwind going on the inside. It is important from all the other types of behavior for this kind to be addressed immediately and do something about it.
Assertive behavior: the perfectly imperfect one
The one that’s confident, compassionate, considerate and well-composed. They are honest and open to healthy debates rather than just dominating the opposite one.
Lastly, we have our assertive behavior. To behave assertively, as mentioned above, is the ability to express yourself clearly and still be aware and open to thoughts and different possibilities of an argument. It’s important to have this behavior because,
- It helps you to grow since being receptive to ideas and thoughts enhances your perspective.
- You’re likely to be the preferred person to collaborate since you’re not just imposing your views, thus inadvertently improving your and the team’s idea. A definite win-win situation.
- You will experience a sense of composure since you’re not out there to just prove a point. It’s about bettering situations or people, thus it helps you personally to be in a healthy and more positive sphere of mind.
- You will experience a sense of achievement since you’re doing more than just expressing- you’re also helping others grow. Isn’t it wonderful not just to learn but also teach and impact someone’s life?
Assertive behavior applies to our personal, professional and social life.
So, how can one develop assertive behavior?
- Be confident; your views are as important as anyone else’s in a room.
- Be a team player; help others and take help to better your ideas.
- Be compassionate; other’s views are important too.
- Be accountable; people listen to someone who’s not afraid to accept responsibility for their mistakes.
- Be gentle; nobody likes to listen to a person just because he/she has the loudest voice.
- Be patient; a wise person always speaks the last- it is said to be a sign of good leadership.
Lastly, good vibes attract good vibes, so be good…
So to sum up, assertive behavior is more than about growing in your workspace; it is also about developing and bettering yourself as an individual. Remember, the world can sometimes be cruel- so be assertive because nobody else will stand up for you, and the world can sometimes be miserable- so be assertive while helping because sometimes people need patience more than just views.
Arpita writes to earn, as a Copywriter in Advertising; writes to express, in different forms of poetry; writes to voice opinions, with articles on different subjects; and writes to breathe and live in general. Words, as she puts it are the best version of her; and cakes, chocolates, coffee, chai, and cafes are her ideas of respite. As she always says, she is just somebody who’s trying to make herself a writer and for now, she’s just writing...