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1. Assertiveness and you

What does “assertiveness” mean?

Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens’ story was
assertive enough to ask for more food

If we look in the dictionary, “to assert” means “To state a fact or belief with confidence”. So an “assertive” person is someone who can easily say how they feel or what they need without fear, without feeling guilty or getting angry and in a way that doesn’t invite other people to disagree.

Assertiveness is not a method to always get your way, to shirk your responsibilities, to control other people or to make everyone like you. It’s about good communication, and good communication is one of the most useful skills you can have.

Is assertiveness for me?

Assertiveness is good for everyone! Later in this course we will look how non-assertive people try to make up for their lack of assertiveness, and the damage and problems that they cause.

By becoming more assertive (and boosting your self confidence and self esteem, which is also part of this course) you will be able to:

  • Be more confident about your parenting.
  • Avoid being forced into things that aren’t your responsibility.
  • Feel like you’ve been heard.
  • Keep a better control of your anger.
  • Bring up confident children.
  • Stop relationships becoming abusive.
  • Be treated with more respect.
  • Talk to people more easily.
  • Make a better impression.
  • Avoid confusion, complications, worry and stress.
  • Stop feeling so ashamed and embarrassed of yourself and your family.

Improving your assertiveness can help with most interpersonal situations. For your first exercise, think of some times in your life where you’d like to communicate with other people without feeling worried, angry, or being made to agree to things that you’d rather not.

In your worksheet, write down some times in your life when you’d like to be able to speak your mind and be heard.

Spotting assertive people

Do you know any assertive people? They might be real people or fictional characters. They are people who get listened to and feel confident and happy with saying how they feel and what they need, without feeling guilty, getting angry or apologising for themselves. They can speak without letting their emotions run away with them.

People’s level of assertiveness varies in different situations. You may be more assertive at work, or with your children, or maybe with friends. At other times maybe you find it really difficult to communicate.

Take note this week of when you feel most able to communicate. Watch people you know and try to see which ones are more assertive.

How assertive are you?

In your worksheet, rate how easy it is for you to do the following things. A rating of 1 means you can hardly do it at all, 2 means it’s difficult, 4 means it’s quite easy and 5 means you have no trouble at all.

How easily can you…

  1. Say “No” without feeling guilty?
  2. Relax and have fun?
  3. Feel proud of yourself?
  4. Ask for what you want?
  5. Feel like you’re worth something?
  6. Feel comfortable saying what you think?
  7. Listen without interrupting?

Analysing your response

If you’ve rated yourself as 3 or below for most of these, you will benefit from increasing your self esteem, self confidence and assertiveness, and this course is for you. If you’re mostly scoring 4 or 5, you are probably already quite assertive, but you still may find this course useful.

The way you respond TEACHES others how to treat you

If you find it hard to be assertive it’s because you have spent years “training” yourself to act the way you do, and training others to treat you that way. With the help of this course you can now re-train yourself to be more assertive and other people to treat you with more respect.

Next: 2. Making changes

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