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This requires stating what you want without offence or threat, in an authoritative manner, and at the same time respecting the rights of others. It involves walking the path of honesty, truth and integrity as opposed to the extremes of non-assertiveness and aggression.

From our ancestors we’ve inherited the fight or flight response to any given situation. We’ve come a long way from those confrontations though, that resulted in taking on an opponent or running away ...  haven’t we?

Today, you need to be able to communicate your needs and wants in a clear and precise manner without fear of upsetting or overpowering your listener. An understanding of assertiveness will help you to get your message across without resorting to manipulation or employing ploys.

Non-assertiveness.  This reflects the running away choice our ancestors made when confronting danger. Today, it often represents a weak character, who would do anything to keep the peace. It often displays a lack of confidence in making a decision, even though running away is a decision in itself. 

Your environment governs you, and you’ve no doubt inherited certain behavioural traits from your parents and other influential people. Some of those might indeed be agreeable tendencies, including a passive or submissive nature, which is fine, but please ask the question as to whether it serves you to be so inclined in every situation?
Unbroken allegiance to a suppressed behaviour can in fact lead to stress, brought on by frustration, feelings of inadequacy and anger.

Aggression.  This resides at the other end of the spectrum, stemming from the fighting qualities demanded in times gone by: winning being the only consideration, because to lose often meant death.

Unfortunately, a ‘bull at a gate’ attitude is not acceptable in today’s society, which frowns on such behaviour. It might result in a victory, but is only short-term expediency, and not to be encouraged. It won’t serve you, and it’s wrong to imagine that this behaviour is the only way to get results. People will in fact distance themselves from you if you display continued aggression. 

In your relationships with other human beings, the collaboration by cooperation will result in ‘win/win’ outcomes. Aggressive steamrolling with your ideas might give you a win/lose outcome, but is that what you want?

Remember that no one ‘wins’ an argument! That is, if you’re interested in further business, a better relationship or acceptance. Mutual respect is not gained by beating somebody down. Every victory achieved in that manner results in resentment from your partner in communication, who becomes an opponent and develops into an adversary.

Learn how to be assertive and get positive results with John Mulvey.

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