Practicing assertiveness (part 1)

Post written by Orsolya Hernold

Many years ago I participated at a training series for women leaders and I would like to share with you the part about practicing  assertiveness. It profoundly shaped my communication and my relationship with others – I learned about the win-win principle, started to say “no” when I meant to say “no” and understood how I can give negative feedback without hurting the other.

It is a great topic, so I will write a couple of posts about it. First, what is assertiveness and why is it important? Assertiveness is the quality of being confident without being aggressive or submissive. It is the basis of long-term cooperation – whether in relationships or at work. The two parties of the situations are equal partners and they strive for a solution that is satisfactory for both of them. An assertive person does not believe in competition, rather believes that the partners together can find a better road of higher quality in contrast to one having her / his way with the other giving in. In everyday life we can benefit from being assertive in reaching our goals without hurting others, being honest about our emotions, wishes, opinions, needs and building long-term relationships based on partnership.

The most eye-opener exercise I had was the list of my assertive rights. Let me share them with you – please note for yourself where you feel your rights are taken into consideration or are violated. For the latter, try to come up with a sentence you will next time say to counteract.

My first reaction in situations for years has been to please and comply. I wanted (and still fall back to wanting) everybody to like me and I did everything to please them. The above written sentences liberated me from this constant pleasing and complying mode I put myself for years. It is now ok (although not always a good feeling, nevertheless it is not an underlying motive any more) if somebody dislikes me for something I do or say. I realized that by pleasing everyone – I was left out from my own life. I was more concerned with the feelings and well-being of others than of mine. Being assertive put me back to where I belong – on the same shelf I dedicate to everyone around me.

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