Self-assertiveness can be defined as a behavior that allows us to act in our best interests. It’s a way of defending our point of view, expressing in a direct and sincere way what we think, want, and feel. This is how the concept was established by Alberti and Emmons in the 1970s. The psychiatrist Christophe André adds that self-assertiveness is expressing yourself without generalized anxiety and taking into account the person you’re talking to.
🧐 Self-assertiveness isn’t a quality, but a behavior. It can therefore be worked on and learned.
The obstacles to this positive development
But it’s not easy to assert yourself. Many of us, myself included, have a deficit in this area. What’s holding us back? There are three things that prevent us from developing:
- Psychological barriers 🧠: this includes all fears, including the fear of hurting others, of conflict, of looking ridiculous, of being judged… Even the fear of conflict [PB1] and doing the wrong thing! These anxieties paralyze us and push us into avoidance.
- Emotional barriers ❤️: these are our thoughts that generate strong anxiety and poor management of our feelings. We’re unable to face “high-risk” situations.
- Lack of training 🤷♀️: avoiding situations has become “natural”, so we’re not used to saying what we think.
Why is it essential to do this?
When you’re not used to asserting yourself, the previous barriers are difficult to overcome. Embarrassment and fear paralyze us, so it’s much easier not to step out of our comfort zone. Nevertheless, self-development and self-assertiveness can really help us. It will make us feel better, we’ll be more respected, and our self-confidence will increase as we go along. On top of that, our relationships will be positively impacted as we’ll be able to communicate better 🗨️.
Starting to be assertive
There is real work to be done to assert yourself. You can start doing it on your own by keeping a mantra in mind: “I can take my place and make my voice heard”. It’s a good way to develop your assertiveness. It will convince you that you’re legitimate and that you have just as much right to express yourself as others.
In addition to this, Christophe André recommends something else in his book “I cure my complexes and depression”. We must confront the emotions of discomfort and embarrassment because they will disappear little by little. The more we learn to disobey, especially our parents as an adult, the more we learn to assert ourselves. What’s more, saying things simply is a good way to express yourself correctly.
8 key principles for self-assertiveness
There are principles that must be kept in mind when developing your communication with others. At the same time, you must also learn to manage your emotions, so that they don’t interfere with your assertiveness.
1 - 👉 Proudly use “I”.
2 - 👉 Express our needs and desires.
3 - 👉 Respect the desires of others.
4 - 👉 Practice active listening (we, therefore, listen as much as we talk).
5 - 👉 Be direct, clear, and precise.
6 - 👉 Look at the other person in the eyes, we mustn’t run away from them.
7 - 👉 Pay attention to non-verbal communication.
8 - 👉 Look for a compromise in case of conflicts.
Asserting yourself without putting others down
Self-assertiveness must be done with respect. Asserting yourself doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive to others! Non-violent communication and listening to others are closely linked to expressing your deepest desires. It’s not incompatible, on the contrary, they both develop together: the more you respect others, the more legitimate you’ll be in expressing your feelings.
To assert yourself with others, you need to learn t do these exercises:
- Making a request: “Can I borrow this?”.
- Responding to a request: say no, say yes, or negotiate, as long as it matches your emotions.
- Making a criticism: it must be constructive and not hurtful.
- Responding to criticism: “I understand that you don’t like my outfit, but I do, and it’s a way of expressing my style”.
- Giving a compliment: it must be sincere and not manipulative.
- Responding to a compliment: learning to accept compliments is part of self-assertiveness.
Asserting yourself can take years, which is what I’m currently finding out. I know that I still have a long way to go, but I feel even better. Once you’ve understood that, it becomes increasingly easy to have the right reflexes. It’s up to us 💪!
Editor’s note: very effective exercises
As you will have understood, self-assertiveness can be learned and above all worked on! There are many very effective exercises and techniques. 👉 To make your voice heard, don’t hesitate to contact a coach to start this work.
🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy… It’s here and now!
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