A to Z of People skills – Assertiveness

March 21st, 2012

In the A to Z of people skills, many would put Action or Activity first. For me, assertiveness is so key to skills development and the ability to workwell with others, to be able to complete action plans and activities, that I thought I’d start here.

So, what is assertiveness? Peter described it as “Getting your point across without causing offence or resentment” which is one way of putting it; you might say “the skill/ability to stand up for myself and say what I think, or how I feel, when I believe I need to.” Development programmes often help people develop their abilities and skills in communicating their message, such that the passive/submissive person is finally listened to by others and the aggressive person ceases to cause offence or resentment.

In order to make this truly effective, the assertive person also needs to be listening to others and allowing them to get their point across … even if the other person isn’t very assertive. So, three tips to get you started:

  • assertive people talk for themselves – “I think we need to” as opposed to trying to sell an idea as it everyone agrees, when they haven’t spoken to anyone else saying things like “we need to”
  • assertive people listen – real, active listening
  • assertive people balance their responsibilities with their rights – “if I want the right to work in a way which is different to others, I take responsibility to find out what others want, so we can work together”

And a few words of “warning” – don’t expect others to always react to you in the way you’d prefer. If you change the way you behave, you’d expect them to change their response; however:

  1. the response may change – just not as you expect it
  2. the response may not change – because they don’t see a reason to be different

If you’d like to find out more about behaving assertively as a part of communication and people skills, please contact Sue directly.


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