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On the Second Day of Assertiveness...


On the Second Day of Assertiveness...

Graham Smith

my true love sent to me... I thought about trying to weave turtle doves into this post, but it'll make no sense, so I'ill  get on with explaining the spectrum of behaviour from passive, through assertive and onto aggressive at the opposite end (and hope that makes some sense!).

Today, I am going to focus on passive behaviour, because in my experience, many women find themselves, regularly, acting in a passive way.


  • Are you uncomfortable expressing your thoughts, feelings and needs?
  • Do other people dominate you, dictating what you should or shouldn't do?
  • Are you easily manipulated by others and end up with their needs taking centre stage?
  • Do you find it difficult to stand up for what is right or wrong and end up going along with things that you don't agree with?
  • Do you apologise excessively, say yes when you mean no and appear indecisive? 

If this is you, you might even have got to the stage that you are not sure what your own views of feelings are anymore, but you just have a general feeling of being taken for granted.

Why do you behave passively?

If your parents, siblings, teachers or friends were very controlling and dominant when you were a child, you may have felt unable to speak up. If you were always told that others came first, you might think you were not allowed to ask for what you want.  

What about these phrases? "Those who ask don't get" or a particular favourite from my childhood "Little girls should be seen and not heard."

If I uttered those words to either of my two girls today, well let's just say they haven't been brought up to not express their views!

These types of behaviours and beliefs are often very ingrained and can result in you feeling out of control with no ability to impact positively on your future.

As I said yesterday, these attitudes, behaviours and views, however long you might have held them can be changed. When you behave in a more assertive way, you are much more likely to have a positive attitude and start to believe you can affect situations more positively. 

Our levels of confidence and self-esteem impact on our ability to behave more assertively. In order to be able to tell other people what your wants and needs are (not in a selfish way - for those passive readers) you need to have the confidence to look them in the eye and speak honestly. Something that can seem very scary to some of us.

What happens when you are not assertive?

Not telling that rude shop assistant/ customer service representative / waitress that you were offended by their remarks leaves you frustrated with the situation, as well as feeling bad for not standing up for yourself. 

Translate the situation into one involving hurtful remarks from a partner of friend and the feelings escalate as you bury your hurt feelings.

Do assertive people ever feel anxious about expressing their feelings, needs and wishes? Of course they do, but the difference between them and non - assertive people is that they are prepared to take responsibility for the outcome of situations. Rather than concentrating on their fear and anxiety, they focus on dealing with people and situations despite that fear and worry. They realise that they need to deal with this stuff, instead of avoiding it.

Tomorrow, we'll look at passive-aggressive and aggressive, before moving onto some help to behave more assertively later in the week.