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On the Third Day of Assertiveness...


On the Third Day of Assertiveness...

Graham Smith

Yesterday, I talked about people who demonstrate passive behaviours, accepting, placating, possibly anxious, but most definitely putting other people's needs before theirs.

As I said at the start of these series of posts, we can all make a choice about acting in different ways in different situations. It's very common for Mums and Dads to put the needs of their children and others before themselves, but when we talk about assertive behaviours and how we communicate on a regular basis, passive people are much more likely to be saying yes when they really mean No!

If assertiveness means both parties are okay, then passive is when you're not okay, but the other party is okay. More at I'm Ok, You're Ok - Thomas Harris

If we look now at the other end of the spectrum and aggressive people - they make sure they are okay resulting in the other party being 'not okay' and when we get to passive - aggressive, usually no-one is okay!

Aggressive behaviour and communication is typically thought of as being loud and shouty, controlling and expressing opinions in a way that dismisses other's points of view. Usually if you think you have been treated badly, you react in an angry and hostile way. This is a one-way process, blaming, often sarcastic (I have a tendency for sarcasm at times) where you don't take other people's needs and feeling into consideration.

  • getting your own way, no matter what.
  • getting your own point across at other people's expense.
  • being loud and violent.
  • interrupting other people.

Aggressive people often think that the world is a tough place and the only way to get through is to push your way. This behaviour is often the result of being ignored, misunderstood, put upon or cheated.

Passive-aggressive behaviour is not always easy to recognise, but is usually very manipulative, where you are dishonest about your feelings and opinions, controlling situations without seeming to.

  • aggressive behaviour conveyed in a polite way!
  • quiet and apparently offensive.
  • ignoring others or being sulky.
  • tricking or manipulating others.
  • using sarcasm to make a point
  • putting people down..

Passive-aggressive behaviour is expressed through hostility and resentment towards others -because you were told it was rude or selfish to show feelings or your opinions or wants. As a child, any display of anger or frustration may have been punished, so you had to learn to not be detected when expressing your needs.

Passive people usually accept that their feelings and opinions will not be taken into account, but passive -aggressive people resent this, yet will not be happy asserting themselves. They therefore resort to underhand ways to get what they want (or don't want), but this doesn't mean that they know they are doing this.

Why is it so difficult to be assertive and express openly and simply what you what without  compromising other people's wishes and feelings?

  • you are scared or confused by the other person
  • you are fearful that the other person may become angry or upset
  • you are tired or stressed
  • you are not sure of your rights in the situation
  • you lack confidence

Fear of someone or something, is usually at the heart of why we do not assert ourselves and even when we do, it does not mean we will always get our way; but confidence increases when we are honest about our feelings, despite the outcome.

So tomorrow we will look at some techniques to help us be more assertive and reduce the number of 'difficult situations' that might pop up over the festive period.

Have you worked out your 'typical attitude' yet?