It is becoming more and more common for classic concepts of psychology to transcend their area of ​​origin and begin to form part of our daily lives. As has happened with mindfulness or resilience techniques , it has also reached assertiveness.

Next we will point out what this term is and where it comes from, which sounds so complicated to finish with some techniques that allow to improve assertiveness.

Origin of the concept

Assertiveness was first described by Andrew Salter in 1949 who viewed it as a personality trait . At first it was thought of as a characteristic that you either had or you did not have. However, later research showed that it was a skill and that, as such, it was not so stable but that it was possible to learn and develop it.

Wolpe and Lazarus defined it, from this new approach, as “the expression of personal rights and feelings.” This capacity would be in all of better or worse form and in turn would be affected by the situation. So anyone could be very assertive in one situation and completely incapable in another.

Therefore, it is about increasing the number and diversity of situations in which assertive behavior can be developed and reducing those that are more hostile . But how? Keep reading because we tell you what are the steps to train to improve your assertiveness.

The script for perfect assertive communication

We will have assertive behavior when we defend our own rights without violating those of others. In addition, this behavior allows expressing likes and interests spontaneously , talking about oneself without feeling self-conscious, accepting compliments, openly disagreeing, asking for clarification and it is possible to say “no” .

We already have enough sources of stress in our day-to-day lives that interpersonal relationships are a stressful environment rather than a pleasant one. Assertiveness will help us to experience greater relaxation in our interactions .

  • Identify communication styles

In general, there are three different styles of communication : aggressive , passive and assertive. To understand them in a simple way, they can be placed on a continuum where the assertive would represent the intermediate point.

Look around yourself and around yourself and see what the conversations are like. In which environments are you more aggressive or more passive, how do you handle situations …

  • Identify the situations in which you want to improve

It is an objective analysis of one’s own behavior to find out where assertive training can help us the most. To determine well the value of the situations in which you want to increase assertiveness, score from one to ten, from least to greatest discomfort produced by the interaction.

If you do it with several, you will see how the more hostile or more passive, the more they will score in discomfort.

  • Become aware of the situation in which you want to change your behavior

Many times we fail when facing situations because we do not conceptualize them correctly. That is why it is very important to learn to describe situations.

It can help to write the scene , making sure to include who the person involved is, when the situation takes place, what worries you about it, how you deal with it, what you fear will happen if you are assertive, and what your goal is. .

For example: My friend Juan (who), when we meet after work to have a beer together (when), he usually doesn’t stop talking about his problems with his mother (what). All I do is sit next to him and try to get interested in the subject (how). If I interrupt you, I’m afraid you think I don’t care (fear). I wish I could change the subject and sometimes talk about my things (objective).

  • Make your script to get the behavior change

Yes, social relationships are unpredictable. But having a flexible script can help us not miss our point. In this step it is usually recommended to follow the acronym SCALE:

– Carefully express rights, wishes, needs and feelings. Define the objective and keep it in mind.– Point out the time and place where to discuss the problem (we will not have this point if it is a spontaneous confrontation).– Characterize the situation in detail.– Adapt feelings to first-person messages, that is, change “You are inconsiderate” to “I feel hurt.” It is also important to link the feeling to the concrete behavior. For example, “I felt hurt when you left and did not say goodbye” instead of a reproach such as “I felt hurt because you were inconsiderate of me.”– Limit the objective with one or two clear sentences. It is essential to be concrete and firm.– Accentuate the possibility of obtaining what you want, if you have the cooperation of the other . If necessary, you can express the negative consequences of the lack of cooperation (be careful, because it is not about threatening).

  • Don’t neglect body language

Non-verbal communication is very important that it is consistent with what we say. These are some basic rules that you can practice in front of the mirror:

– Maintain eye contact with your interlocutor.– Make sure your position is upright.– Speak clearly , audibly and firmly.– Do not speak in a lamenting tone or in an apologist way.– To emphasize your words, use facial expressions and gestures .

  • Learn to avoid manipulation

Inevitably in your attempt to be assertive you will come across stratagems that will try to impede your goals. These are some of the many techniques that exist to avoid it .

– Broken record: repeat your point of view calmly, without letting yourself win over irrelevant aspects (yes, but … yes, I know but my point of view is …).– Assertive Agreement: Respond to criticism by admitting that you have made a mistake, but separating it from being a good or bad person (yes, but I forgot the quote. I am generally responsible).– Assertive question: incite criticism to obtain information that you can use in the argument (I understand that you do not like how I acted, what did I do to make you feel that way?
– Process the change: it shifts the focus of the discussion towards the analysis of what happens between the two, leaving aside the issue itself (We are getting out of the question, we will end up talking about past things. It seems to me that you are angry).– Simulated claudication: it appears to give ground without it being so. Agree with the other’s argument but don’t change your position (you may be right, it shouldn’t be so harsh but …).– Ignore : ignore the reason for your interlocutor’s anger and postpone the discussion until he is calm (I see that you are very angry, we will discuss later).

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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