We explain what assertiveness is and what it means to be assertive. In addition, its definition according to the SAR and what is assertive communication.
What is assertiveness?
When talking about assertiveness, an allusion is usually made to a communicative model that seeks an ideal balance between aggressive and passive communication positions , in order to maintain a frank, equitable and respectful process of information exchange.
This means that assertive communication is a way to deal with others, to say what you want and to manage your own emotionality to achieve efficient and beneficial communication for all.
Assertiveness stems from the idea that every individual has their own inherent rights that must be respected, which naturally includes the issuer. There are, according to this, two types of traditional communicative models:
- Aggressive model . He who contemplates his own rights very well, but very little those of the other. It is a selfish , narcissistic model that tends to assault others or verbally violate them to impose communication. It is usually exhausting for all involved and damage interpersonal relationships.
- Passive model . He who submits to the designs of others, contemplating his rights well but very poorly his own. This model can be seen as “backbone”, shy or hesitant, and is usually ineffective or ambiguous, often leading to an aggressive model later to compensate.
In this way, assertiveness proposes an intermediate route between aggressiveness and passivity, based more on reason, spoken word and frank communication , without yielding to the emotions of the moment, but without denying or underestimating them. To this end, a communication model is proposed focusing on the facts and not on the considerations, on the expression of the feelings and not on the aggression.
Assertiveness was initially understood as a personality trait , which meant that some have it and others simply do not. That does not mean that it cannot develop. Then, however, it was determined that it was not so: the same person could be assertive in some situations and not in others, depending.
This is because assertiveness is linked to self-esteem , maturity and other personality components that influence the way we communicate and the place we give ourselves. And these factors are not always the same nor do they operate the same.
Assertiveness according to the SAR
The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy defines assertiveness as a “quality of assertiveness”, that is, “Affirmative” or “said of a person: who defends his opinion firmly.”
From there it seems to be clear that assertiveness has to do with the ability to state clearly and firmly what has to be said, to enjoy the respect of others, without violating the interlocutors, but also not submitting to them.
Some recommendations for developing assertive communication are the following:
- Maintain eye contact . When we talk to someone and see them carefully, not in an aggressive or invasive way, but simply by making them understand that we are interested in what they say, we show and generate interest, which feeds back our communicative expectations, since at the same time we feel included and part of the statement.
- Maintain an open body posture . Arms crossed over the chest, rigid or distant gestures will sabotage communication, as they are nonverbal ways of showing disinterest or rejection by the other. The same applies to being emitters: an open body posture will invite the other to listen, while a closed one will immediately discourage him.
- Having objectives when communicating Knowing what is meant is the best previous step to communicate, since if we do not know what we want to achieve, it will cost us much more to transmit it, and we may wander, lose the thread or doubt time to talk
- Balance the communication . This happens by being aware of how much time we talk and how much time we listen to the other, so as not to be passive or overwhelming.
- Modulate the voice . Maintaining an audible tone of voice, but not shouting, pronouncing whole and correctly instead of fast and without modulating, are key strategies so that the other has an interest in listening to us, can do so effectively and incidentally grant us an important share of attention, which It will positively feed our desire to be active (or less so, in the case of aggressive people) within the communicative process.
- Do not give in to emotions . Instead of claiming or reproaching, or worse, insulting, it would always be better to describe the situation and what it made us feel, and then go straight to what we want so that it does not happen again. In this way we guarantee that the other knows what we want, what happened and does not focus on defending against a sudden attack.