By Ron Huxley
Assertive behavior is self-enhancing. When you express your feelings
honestly, you usually achieve your goal. You generally feel good
about yourself when you choose to behave in an assertive manner,
even if your goals are not achieved. You must tailor your communication
to circumstances of each new situation. Behavior that applies to
some persons and circumstances does not apply to all persons or
situations. Each situation is different. There are times when a
passive response is most appropriate. Sometimes, an aggressive response
is needed. Most of the time, assertiveness is the key.
Always be true to your own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Avoid
direct or implied criticism of the other person's thoughts,
feelings or beliefs, and you are likely to retain the trust and
goodwill of those around you. Think in terms of I-messages. An I-message
expresses your feelings and experiences without making the other
person responsible for them. An I-message is honest and genuine.
It doesn't judge, blame or interrupt. It never tells the other
person what he should think or feel.
Successful use of I-messages requires that you know exactly what
you want and need, take personal responsibility for meeting your
preferences, express yourself to the person whose cooperation you
need, and be willing to listen if the other person becomes defensive.
If you develop a full understanding of assertive communication,
you can choose appropriate and self-fulfilling responses for a variety
of situations. All effective assertive communication, however, is
characterized by a basic four-part message:
1. Non-judgmental description of the behavior to be changed.
2. Disclosure of the assertor's feelings.
3. Clarification of the concrete and tangible effect of the other
person's behavior on the assertor.
4. Description of the behavior that would be more satisfactory.
You'll send more assertive messages when you use this formula: "When
you (state the other person's behavior non-judgmentally), I
feel (disclose your feelings) because (explain the impact on your
life). I prefer (describe what you want)." This way, the four
parts of the assertion message are stated as clearly as possible
and are contained in one sentence.
This style of communication requires conscientious practice.
Others don't know what behavior you want modified. You must
clearly communicate what the other person does that frustrates you.
This can be difficult. People seldom describe behavior accurately
enough for listeners to understand how their actions frustrate the
speaker. These guidelines will help you develop effective behavior
1. Describe the behavior in specific rather than general terms.
2. Limit yourself to behavioral descriptions. Do not draw inferences
about the other person's motive, attitudes, character, etc.
3. Be objective rather than judgmental.
4. Be as brief as possible.
5. Communicate the real issues to the right person.
Ron Huxley is the author of the book "Love & Limits:
Achieving a Balance in Parenting. You may
Visit his website and get expert advice on anger management,
mental health, and parenting issues.