What is assertive communication?
What is assertive communication you may be asking yourself, but wht is assertive communication?
Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. In the field of psychology and psychotherapy, it is a learnable skill and mode of communication.
Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines assertiveness as:
- a form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms the person’s rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one’s rights or point of view.
During the second half of the 20th century, assertiveness was increasingly singled out as a behavioral skill taught by many personal development experts, behavior therapists, and cognitive behavioral therapists.
Assertiveness is often linked to self-esteem. The term and concept was popularized to the general public by books such as Your Perfect Right: A Guide to Assertive Behavior (1970) by Robert E. Alberti and Michael L. Emmons and When I Say No, I Feel Guilty: How To Cope Using the Skills of Systematic Assertiveness Therapy (1975) by Manuel J. Smith.
The goals of assertiveness training include:
- increased awareness of personal rights
- differentiation between non-assertiveness and assertiveness
- differentiation between passive–aggressiveness and aggressiveness
- learning both verbal and non-verbal assertiveness skills.
As a communication style and strategy, assertiveness is thus distinguished from both aggression and passivity.
How people deal with personal boundaries, their own and those of other people, helps to distinguish between these three concepts.
Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to abuse or manipulate them through fear.
Passive communicators are also typically not likely to risk trying to influence anyone else.
Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and thus are liable to harm others while trying to influence them.
A person communicates assertively by overcoming fear of speaking his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others.
Assertive people are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive people.
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