What is assertiveness?
Assertiveness is the ability to state positively and constructively our rights, needs or concerns while respecting the rights, needs or concerns of others.
- An assertive tone is clear, calm, and direct
- Assertiveness can invite discussion, work towards resolution or be a clear statement of “no.”
What are some of the benefits?
When you use direct, open, and honest communication in relationships, you can:
- feel more in control of life
- improve ability to make decisions
- improve quality of relationships
How does assertiveness contrast with other styles of responding?
- Passive: accepting what is said or done even though it is contrary to your needs, rights or feelings, such as saying “yes” when you really mean “no.”
- Aggressive: forcing your thoughts, desires or feelings onto others regardless of their needs, rights or feelings.
- Assertive: clearly and honestly expressing your thoughts, ideas, and concerns while being respectful of the needs, rights and feelings of others.
Examples of assertive language:
- Assertive: “I would prefer not going to that restaurant. I would be happy with several others such as……….”
- Passive: Say nothing and go (feeling resentful), or make an excuse not to go
- Aggressive: “that restaurant doesn’t have anything I will eat and it’s inconsiderate of you to suggest going there.”
- Assertive: “Before we move on to the next point, I have a comment to add to our current discussion.”
- Passive: “I don’t suppose anyone wants to hear what I have to say? “ (or say nothing and feel ignored)
- Aggressive: “You’re going too fast and you need to listen to what I have to say.”
- Assertive: “I would really like to keep our shared living space free from clothes and clutter. I would appreciate it if you would put your personal belongings in your room or the closet.”
- Passive: say nothing and feel resentful or tell a friend, “my roommate annoys me and never picks up his/her stuff.”
- Aggressive: “You really annoy me leaving your stuff all over. Pick it up and put it in your room!”
- Assertive: “It is my observation that you have had a lot to drink tonight and I am concerned for our welfare if you drive. Either I can drive or we need to call a cab.”
- Passive: say nothing and be a passenger with an intoxicated driver, risking your well-being.
- Aggressive: “You’re drunk and there’s no way I’m riding with you!”
Roadblocks to assertiveness:
- Fear of harming others
- Fear of rejection
- Feelings of shame
These roadblocks are based upon a belief that other people’s needs, opinions, and judgments are more important than your own.
In other words, assertiveness allows you to:
- Ask for what you want
- Say “no” to what you don’t want
- Be respectful of others
- Be respectful of yourself
To make an appointment with the UW Bothell Student Mental Health Counseling Services call (425) 352-3183 or for more information on counseling services return to the web page http://www.uwb.edu/studentservices/counseling