Assertiveness is the last piece of the self-expression building block of emotional intelligence. I covered this group’s other two competencies – emotional expression and independence – in my last two posts.
What is Assertiveness?
Are you able to clearly state your thoughts and your needs? Do you stand up for your rights? Can you disagree while still remaining sensitive to and considerate of others?
Assertiveness begins with having enough self-awareness to be able to recognize feelings before you express them. Then, it involves having sufficient impulse control and emotional expression to express emotions such as anger or disapproval in an appropriate way and without excessive intensity. Finally it involves being able to stand up for you own rights, while still being able to be sensitive to and respectful of others’ needs.
What It Is Not
Assertiveness is not being aggressive. It is not being pushy or bossy. A key aspect of assertiveness is being able to maintain a sensitivity to others’ feelings and behaving in a considerate manner while standing up for yourself.
If You Have It
If you have a good level of assertiveness you’re able to articulate clearly your wishes and thoughts while at the same time remaining considerate for others’ positions. When you’re assertive even in a difficult or unpleasant situation the other person feels accepted and not put down.
If You Don’t
If your level of assertiveness is on the low side you may feel that you don’t have anything important to say or to contribute. Maybe you believe that you’re unable or unwilling to share your thoughts or your positions. Others may see you as shy, soft-spoken or weak. You may seem uncommitted.
Assertiveness is full of benefits and you may feel it quite liberating once you start using it more frequently as this will result in you behaving in a more authentic way.
Here are a couple of exercises you can do to practice:
– Think about situations where you tend to keep your positions to yourself rather than sharing them with others. Make sure that in the next conversation or meeting you are in, you express your position clearly regardless of whether you are asked, whether someone else already expressed it or whether the idea is likely to be well received.
– Is saying “no” difficult for you? Next time someone asks you to commit to something that you’re not interested in doing push yourself to say “No”. Make sure you do this in a nice and appropriate manner but say “No”.
Notice how you feel.