Assertiveness is a way of behaving (and is often post deliberate thinking) that allows the person to stand up for his or her own rights and at the same time showing the respect for the rights of other to him the behaviour is being directed towards.
More often than not, non-assertive people tend to be passive till they are provoked in to a corner bringing out their aggressive side. Passive individuals are not committed to their own rights and are most likely to allow others to infringe on their rights than to stand up and speak out about it. The passive person is so concerned with being liked and accepted that he or she may never recognize the need to advocate.
On the other hand, aggressive persons are very likely to defend their own rights and work to achieve their own goals but are frequently likely to disregard the rights of others. This is more often due to their self centred approach to life. As a result, aggressive individuals insist that their feelings and needs take precedence over that of other people. They also tend to blame others for problems instead of offering solutions.
An assertive attitude and behaviour is at the heart of effective advocacy. A person with an assertive attitude recognizes that each individual has his or her own rights. These rights include not only rights to individuality, to have and express personal preferences, feelings and opinions, but also legal rights. The assertive individual not only believes in his or her rights but is committed to preserving those rights in self as well as others. An assertive attitude is important in recognizing that rights are being violated. The assertive person clearly expresses his or her rights or needs. They tend to face problems promptly and they focus on solutions rather than the problem.
If one desires to enhance one's assertiveness skills, assertive listening is the most important advocacy skill that requires to be practiced. The goals of assertive listening are:
- let the other person know that you want to understand his or her point of view and would therefore desire to ask for clarification without sounding like throwing a challenge
- Understand accurately what the other person is saying and
- Let the other person know that he or she has been understood with an acknowledgement or what executives call “test understanding” statements.
Remember that understanding is different from agreement. You can understand what the other person is saying without necessarily agreeing with him or her. This is often called in communication as “agreeing to disagree” without being unpleasant.
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