Be Assertive and Reduce Stress

Are you assertive or non-assertive in your interactions with others? Becoming effectively assertive in your interpersonal relationships can result in much less emotional distress. Whenever you act non-assertively, you generally end up feeling more anxious and tense than you would like.

You may also feel angry and resentful about not expressing your true feelings. You may feel frustrated at not getting what you feel you should have. You can feel victimized, pushed around, and taken advantage of. You feel less in control and less hopeful that you can achieve what you would like to achieve. Your self-esteem is lowered. You feel less positive about yourself and about how others see you.

And those times when you do act assertively, you may feel guilty or anxious, worrying about any repercussions of your behavior. Any or all of the above, of course, produces a good deal of stress. Fortunately, finding out how to become more comfortably assertive is something that can be mastered relatively painlessly. The first step is knowing just how assertive or unassertive you are.

Not too hot, not too cold — just right

Acting assertively means knowing how to express your opinions, wants, and feelings in ways that don’t compromise the rights of others or demean others. When you assert your own needs, you don’t let others take advantage of you, nor do you feel guilty.

Being assertive is more than returning a broken toaster or telling a waiter to take back your undercooked steak. Often, being more assertive means being able to express positive feelings to someone, to express affection and caring.

Being assertive also means being able to give and receive positives, be they compliments, thank-yous, or other expressions of praise and gratitude. You are not meek, you are not aggressive, and you do not blame and resent. You feel good about your actions. And you feel less stress.

Examples of assertive behavior

To help you get a better picture of what assertive behavior is, here is a list of some assertive responses to common situations.

  • Refusing a request:

    • I’m sorry, I can’t drop that package off for you.

    • That’s not a good time for me.

    • I’m sorry, but I really don’t want to do that.

  • Being given some unwanted advice:

    • I really don’t want your advice right now.

    • Thanks for your help, but I’ll be fine.

  • Expressing disapproval:

    • I don’t like what you’re doing.

    • I would like you to stop that.

  • Expressing a compliment:

    • I think you’re doing a fantastic job.

    • I think you look terrific.

  • Receiving a compliment:

    • It’s nice of you to say that.

    • Thank you.

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