Assertiveness is not a natural trait for some people and can lead them to uncomfortable and challenging situations that they find difficult to get themselves out of.
However, assertiveness is an important life skill that everyone has to exercise in specific circumstances. Here are 3 situations when you need to be assertive.
1. Dealing with Compliments
Compliments are positive messages of support, showing approval, and helping boost the other person’s self-confidence. Learning to both accept them and give them gracefully is an important life skill.
If a compliment is rejected, the giving end may feel discounted or embarrassed and might become less likely to pay you a compliment in the future.
Being assertive when dealing with compliments means fighting your natural urge to shrug them off, or return them with a half-truth, or even a blatant lie just to make the other person feel good.
When receiving compliments, thank the person and accept it – whether or not you agree with it.
When giving compliments, make sure it’s truthful and genuine. Insincerity will stick out like a sore thumb and will undermine your efforts to build up another person’s self-confidence. Also, remember that positive reinforcement is always more effective than its negative counterpart.
2. Dealing with Demands
Being faced with unacceptable and unrealistic demands can become a challenging experience and may require assertiveness, which does not come easy for some people. However, you need to acknowledge your right to refuse a demand.
When dealing with demands, you should consider the following:
- When refusing a demand, it is important that you properly explain that you are saying “no” to the demand and not the person.
- Stand firm on your decision to reject the demand. If you crumble under pressure, they will see that you can be swayed and give opportunities for more unacceptable demands in the future. You do of course have the right to change your mind given the right circumstances.
- People often feel that they have the right to other people’s effort and time. You have the right to say “no” without having to justify yourself.
Being assertive is to non-aggressively, quietly, yet firmly exert your rights, such as to refuse unreasonable demands. However, at the same time you also need to respect the rights of others to make requests of you, and their rights to receive a polite response.
3. Dealing with Criticism
When dealing with criticism:
- Try to see if the criticism is coming from a place of genuine concern for your growth or improvement, or just because the person has some ill-feelings towards you.
- Examine the criticism and see if there is an element of truth. Avoid clapping back with counter-criticism. Criticism with a hint of truth can hurt, but it may also be received constructively. It may be harshly put, but be considerate as not all people are skilled in giving feedback.
- Acknowledge the criticism by reflecting or repeating it.
Being assertive when dealing with criticism means taking control of how you respond to it. Also, if you are on the giving end of the criticism, assertively examine the way you do it and the motives behind it.