Food for Thought: What is your style?
There are basically five different ways people relate to one another. These styles are:
- Passive: Always giving into what others want. Don’t want to make waves. Don’t express thoughts or feelings. Afraid to say no. Discounting one’s own wants and needs
- Aggressive: Being demanding, hostile or rude. Insensitive to the rights of others. Intimidating others into doing what you want. Being disrespectful.
- Passive-aggressive: Telling people what they want to hear to avoid conflict. However, you really feel angry inside and don’t follow through on their expectations or requests, which results in the other person feeling frustrating, angry, confused or resentful.
- Manipulative: Attempting to get what you want by making others feel guilty. Tending to play the martyr or victim in order to get other people to take responsibility for taking care of your needs.
- Assertive: Directly, honestly, and appropriately stating your thoughts, feelings, and wants. Taking responsibility for yourself and being respectful to others. Being an effective listener and problem solver.
Of course, the style we should strive for is assertiveness. To express yourself assertively requires a self awareness and knowing your needs and wants.
It prevents anger and resentment from building up and coming out sideways in aggressive, manipulative or passive behavior. By expressing yourself assertively, you will begin to feel better about yourself, be more in control, have more respect for yourself and get more of what you want out of life.
If you do not express your feelings, opinions, and beliefs, people often misunderstand you and respond in a way you may not like. Remember, no one is a mind reader.
What Assertiveness Will Not Do
Asserting yourself will not necessarily guarantee fair treatment from others, will not solve personal problems or mean you will get what you want. However, lack of assertiveness is one of the reasons conflicts arise in relationships.
Appropriate respectful expression keeps everyone honest and avoids deception and misunderstandings.
Techniques For Assertiveness:
- Be as specific and clear as possible about what you want, feel and think. “I want to....” “I have a different opinion,” ”I think that...”
- Use I feel statements. “I feel..... when you...... I wish that...”
- Ask for feedback. “Am I clear? “How do you see the situation?”
- Communicate non-verbally using appropriate voice, tone, eye contact, and posture.
- Say “no” to someone’s request that conflicts with your needs and desires. You have the right to say no without feeling guilty. Usually saying “no thank you or I am not interested” should suffice. If that person persists than repeat yourself without apology.
- Assertiveness is not aggressiveness, it does not communicate disrespect in any manner or violate the rights of others. Assertiveness tries to find a win- win solution.
- When you differ with someone you respect, are you able to speak up and share your viewpoint?
- Are you able to refuse unreasonable requests made by friends or co-workers?
- Can you accept positive criticism and suggestions?
- Do you ask for assistance when you need it?
- Do you usually have confidence in your own judgment?
- If someone has a better solution do you accept it easily?
- Do you express your feelings, thoughts and beliefs in an honest way?
- Do you try to work for a solution that, to the degree possible, benefits all parties?
A “yes” response indicates an assertive approach.
Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D., LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She can be contacted at 827-0700.