Woman with tattoos in front of graffiti
Assertiveness is about expressing your positions with authenticity. Image by Jen Theodore, public domain.

The art of assertiveness


Assertiveness. It’s a word that is so in vogue lately but, paradoxically, with so little actual practical application. Being assertive means much more than just saying the right thing at the most appropriate time. To be assertive is also to know to keep quiet when necessary. Or to refrain from engaging in fights that do not concern you.

Being assertive has nothing to do with being right or wrong, but with a behavioral posture towards people and daily situations. There are extremely assertive people, regardless of whether they are right. And simply by displaying this posture, they are able to convince others to carry out their will. It is worth remembering that the goal of being assertive is not to manipulate those around you but to improve dialogue and communication. The idea of assertiveness is not to be manipulative, but instead to be convincing by making good arguments.

If we look closely, assertiveness is the art of knowing the right moment to speak up and put yourself forward.

Many times we think that the other person needs to agree with us. Or to act the way we expect. But the idea is actually that you are able to expose and defend your opinions. That you make the effort to be clear about the message you want to send.

Three women in sunflower field
Assertiveness in relationships increases your credibility. Image by Antonino Visalli, public domain.

To be assertive it is necessary to speak firmly, clearly, objectively, and directly, without feeling or causing embarrassment. Remember: it is not about imposing your opinion, but rather about expressing it. It’s about having the ability to assert your positions with authenticity. I personally believe that the more authentic we are in our relationships, the more the people around us will also be honest with us. Assertive people are direct, but not rude and ruthless. So if you have to raise your voice to get people to agree with you, that could be anything but assertive!

In relationships, it is essential to be assertive.

It increases your credibility and authenticity. Your partner will perceive you as someone with whom he or she can engage in a dialogue freely. Assertiveness is closely related to self-esteem. After all, if you yourself are not able to trust your words and have confidence in your ideas, it would be very difficult to convince another person of this. How are they supposed to believe you, to believe in you, if you don’t believe in yourself?

If you still feel very insecure, that’s OK. You might want to start by exposing yourself in small increments to the risk. And then, as you maintain this behavior, your personal feeling of security will gradually increase.

Here are a few practical tips:
– THINK before you speak and act
– Praise in public, correct in private
– Say NO without guilt and without the need to explain yourself
– TALK about situations that are not clear to you

You might not think of yourself as a particularly assertive person, but maybe that is a matter of personal perspective. By reinterpreting assertiveness as being clear in your communication, you too could become more assertive. And in so doing perhaps improve your personal and professional relationships. When you are practicing authenticity, and communicating this effectively, those around you are automatically encouraged to respond in kind.

Jessica is a psychologist, writer, and relationship therapist.
She has two specializations (Politics and Mental Health) and a Master's degree in Medicine. She is interested in issues around immigration, binational relationships, as well as Positive Psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Emotional Intelligence. She gives online sessions, workshops and lectures, as well as publishing content on her Instagram and YouTube channels. www.jessicafayer.com

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