Relationships For Dummies
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When you’re assertive, you act like an equal and share your thoughts and feelings with the listener — and that draws you closer together. Assertiveness should be used only when you have equal power and status with someone — like your partner, your friends, and certain members of your family. Or you can choose to be assertive when you have more power over someone — for example, when you’re the boss.

Assertiveness is a way to share your feelings, get your point across in a calm and rational way, and stand up for yourself — while also showing respect for the listener and his rights. It’s very different from being passive, where you let someone walk all over your rights, or being aggressive, where you stand up for your rights at another’s expense.

However, using assertiveness with people who have more control over you is not a good idea. When you have a lot to lose and the outcome, not the relationship, is the focus, it’s usually better to use diplomatic behavior instead, picking and choosing what you say to bring about a successful outcome. When the relationship and keeping it strong are the focus, however, assertiveness is usually warranted.

What you say (the content or your message), how you say it (your verbal delivery), and how you act when you say it (your nonverbal delivery) are all very important. While your partner probably won’t break your message down, part by part, he or she will interpret your message based on all these variables.

Pay attention to all your verbal and the nonverbal signals — because your mate will.

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Dr. Kate Wachs is America's only Psychologist-Matchmaker. She runs The Relationship Center™ in Chicago, the only full-service introduction and counseling center of its kind. She has helped millions of people through matchmaking, counseling, and her media appearances.

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