What is assertiveness? Assertiveness training techniques

What is assertiveness? Assertiveness training techniques

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The assertiveness it is a psychological term that defines a form of social behavior that favors our relations to be cordial, but without letting ourselves be carried away by passivity or "letting ourselves be stepped on." If we know how to maintain assertive behavior, we can keep our opinions and beliefs in front of others with correction and also accepting those of others.

For many, the way to interact with others can become a considerable source of stress in life. Assertive training allows you to reduce that stress, teaching you to defend each person's legitimate rights without assaulting or being attacked. When you are an assertive person there is more relaxation in interpersonal relationships.


  • 1 How to develop our assertiveness
  • 2 What is passive behavior
  • 3 What is aggressive behavior
  • 4 Beliefs that favor aggressive behavior
  • 5 Beliefs that favor passive behavior
  • 6 Assertive Rights Table
  • 7 Strategies to make assertive responses more effective
  • 8 Assertive techniques or behaviors
  • 9 Strategies to develop in social situations

How to develop our assertiveness

In order to develop our assertiveness it is necessary to strengthen the following qualities:

  • Know how to express our feelings or desires, both positive and negative, in an effective way without denying or disregarding those of others and without creating or feeling shame.
  • Do not be aggressive or too passive.
  • Know how to discriminate situations in which personal expression is important and appropriate.
  • Knowing how to defend oneself without aggression or passivity against the uncooperative or reasonable behavior of others.
  • Differentiate assertive or socially skilled behavior from aggressive and passive behavior.

Assertion implies respecting oneself by expressing one's own needs and defending one's own rights and respecting the rights and needs of other people.. People also have to recognize what their responsibilities are in that situation and what consequences result from the expression of their feelings. Assertive behavior does not always result in the absence of conflict between the two parties; but its objective is the potentiation of the favorable consequences and the minimization of the unfavorable ones.

Next we will differentiate when a behavior is passive and when it is aggressive.

What is passive behavior?

A passive behavior is one in which we feel that our own rights have been violated in some way and we are not able to openly express our feelings, thoughts and opinions, or when expressing them we do it in a self-defeating manner, with apologies and lack of confidence, so that others do not usually pay attention to us.

Non-assertion due to passivity shows a lack of respect for one's own needs. In the beginning we take this path to appease others and avoid conflicts at all costs, but in the long run what causes is a feeling of losing identity, resentment towards oneself and others, and disappointment. Behaving in this way in a situation can result in a series of undesirable consequences both for the person who is behaving in a non-assertive manner and for the person with whom he is interacting. The probability that the non-assertive person meets their needs or that their opinions are understood is substantially reduced due to lack of communication or indirect or incomplete communication.

The person who acts like this can often feel misunderstood, disregarded and manipulated. In addition, you may feel upset about the outcome of the situation or become hostile or irritable towards other people. After several situations in which an individual has been non-assertive, it is likely to end up bursting. There is a limit to the amount of frustration that an individual can store within himself. He who receives non-assertive behavior may also experience a variety of unfavorable consequences; having to constantly infer what the other person is really saying or having to read the thoughts of the other person is a difficult and overwhelming task that can lead to feelings of frustration, discomfort or even anger towards the person who is behaving in a way not assertive

What is aggressive behavior?

This type of behavior is what leads us to defend personal rights and express our thoughts, feelings and opinions in an inappropriate, generally explosive manner, and in most cases transgress the rights of other people.

Aggressive behavior in a situation can be expressed directly or indirectly. Direct verbal aggression includes verbal offenses, insults, threats and hostile or humiliating comments. The nonverbal component may include hostile or threatening gestures, such as wielding fists or intense looks and even physical attacks. Indirect verbal aggression includes sarcastic and spiteful comments and malicious muttering. Aggressive nonverbal behaviors include physical gestures performed while the other person's attention is directed to another place or physical acts directed toward other people or objects.

Victims of aggressive people end up, sooner or later, by feeling resentment and avoiding them. The usual objective of aggression is the domination of other people. Victory is assured through humiliation and degradation. It is ultimately about making others weaker and less able to express and defend their rights and needs. Aggressive behavior is often a reflection of ambitious behavior, which attempts to achieve the objectives at any cost, even if that means violating ethical norms and violating the rights of others. Aggressive behavior can result in short-term favorable consequences, such as a satisfactory emotional expression, a feeling of power and the achievement of desired goals. However, feelings of guilt may arise, an energetic direct counter-attack in the form of a verbal or physical attack by others or an indirect counter-attack in the form of a sarcastic retort or a challenging look. The long-term consequences of this type of behavior are always negative.

Beliefs that favor aggressive behavior

  1. Only I have the right to try to achieve my goals and to defend my rights.
  2. Only I deserve to be respected (in this circumstance, here, etc.) because I am ... and the others are ... (or are not ...), and, therefore, do not deserve my respect.
  3. Only I have the right to ask for help and others cannot refuse. Only I can refuse to help.
  4. Only I have the right to feel ... and tell ... how they feel is their problem, I don't care at all.
  5. Only I have the right to comment on ... others do not have it because ...
  6. Only I can be wrong, and I don't care about the consequences of my actions or opinions; For something I am the…

Beliefs that favor passive behavior

  1. Behaving assertively, trying to defend my personal rights and interests, is negative. If I behave in this way, the other people will feel upset and stop appreciating me and consider me their friend.
  2. I don't deserve the respect of ..., because he (or she) is ..., and I am ...
  3. I have no right to ask for help from… I cannot deny my help to…, no matter how much it costs me to help you.
  4. I have no right to feel sad, angry, scared, etc., much less tell ...
  5. I have no right to comment on ... You only have it because they are ...
  6. I can't go wrong in behavior or opinion.

Assertive Rights Table

Assertive rights have been developed so that we all become aware that, as people, we deserve a series of things, which we are willing to defend against others, in order to maintain our identity and our positive self-esteem.

The situations that express the assertiveness of people are:

  1. Right to be treated with respect and dignity.
  2. Right to be wrong and to be responsible for their own mistakes.
  3. Right to have their own values ​​and opinions.
  4. Right to have their own needs and that these are as important as those of others.
  5. Right to be one the only judge of oneself, to experience and express one's feelings.
  6. Right to change your mind, idea or line of action.
  7. Right to protest when treated unfairly.
  8. Right to change what is not satisfactory to us.
  9. Right to stop and think before acting.
  10. Right to ask for what you want.
  11. Right to be independent.
  12. Right to decide what to do with one's own body and with one's own time and properties.
  13. Right to do less than what is humanly capable of doing.
  14. Right to ignore the advice of others.
  15. Right to refuse requests without feeling guilty or selfish.
  16. Right to be alone even when they want the company of one.
  17. Right not to be justified before others.
  18. Right to decide whether or not one wants to take responsibility for the problems of others.
  19. Right not to anticipate the needs and desires of others.
  20. Right not to be aware of the goodwill of others.
  21. Right to choose between responding or not.
  22. Right to do anything as long as the rights of another person are not violated.
  23. Right to feel and express pain.
  24. Right to talk about a problem with the person involved and in the limit cases in which the rights of each are not entirely clear, reach a viable compromise.
  25. Right to choose not to behave assertively.

Strategies to make assertive responses more effective

Have a good self concept

Many people are not assertive because they lack self-esteem. It is important to remind yourself that you are as important as others and take your own needs seriously.

Plan the messages

Get that all facts and points are clarified in advance, making reference notes if the situation allows. This saves time, produces confidence and can reduce intimidation by others.

To be polite

Getting angry causes confusion in oneself and causes others to see the individual weak, hysterical and with low credibility. Remember that se should take into account the views of others and let them know that their point of view is understood. Denying or being stubborn does not usually work in the long term. It is better to remain calm and polite, but firmly, to express one's opinion.

Save the apologies for when necessary

No excuses should be requested, unless it is necessary to do so. If apologies are reserved for when appropriate, their value will not be reduced neither his own, and the others will take the individual seriously for other matters.

Do not corner others

Doing this will usually cause anger and resentment, which always makes relationships difficult. If one wants to ensure the cooperation of others, they are always should provide, where possible, an exit (hopefully, the exit one wants) and the constructive consequences of such an alternative must be outlined for others and for oneself.

Never resort to threats

If any injustice is answered with strong threats, the credibility and cooperation that are intended will disappear.. A calm statement of the steps you are willing to follow is much more effective. Also if it is affirmed that a series of steps will be followed, it is necessary to make sure to do it, so that one's responses are taken seriously in the future.

Accept defeat when necessary

Assertion implies understanding when subsequent actions are not constructive, accepting defeat with elegance, in good terms with the other. Bad feelings will come later. If they see you accepting situations politely after an argument, people will respect you more. No one likes to be a bad loser.

Assertive techniques or behaviors

They are a set of techniques that allow us to make assertive behaviors when we have difficulty in leaving them instinctively or naturally.

Broken record

It consists of the equanimous repetition of a phrase that clearly expresses what we want from the other person. This assertive behavior allows us to insist on our legitimate desires without falling into verbal traps or manipulative tricks of the interlocutor and without letting us deviate from the issue that matters to us, until we achieve our goal.

Positive assertiveness

This form of assertive behavior consists in expressing genuine affection and appreciation for other people. Positive assertiveness means that one remains attentive to the good and valuable things in others and, having realized that, the assertive person is willing to generously acknowledge that good and valuable and communicate it verbally or non-verbally.

Negative assertion

Negative assertion has to do with the fact that we all make mistakes. With this technique we first make a real self-criticism about us, which will generate in the other a less aggressive reaction when we subsequently make a criticism (constructive observation) to our interlocutor, to move forward with the claims themselves.

Empathic assertiveness

Empathic assertiveness is based on understanding, understanding and acting based on the needs of your interlocutor, in the same way it allows us to be understood and understood.

Progressive assertiveness

If the other does not respond satisfactorily to empathic assertiveness and continues to violate our rights, one insists more firmly and without aggressiveness.

Confrontational assertiveness

Assertive confrontational behavior is useful when we perceive an apparent contradiction between the words and deeds of our interlocutor. Then he describes what the other said he would do and what he really did; Then what you want is clearly expressed. With serenity in the voice and in the words, without a tone of accusation or condemnation, one must limit oneself to inquire, to ask, and then to express a legitimate desire directly.

First person statements

Procedure: describe the other's unwanted behavior; express the negative feeling it causes us; explain the desired behavior; discuss the beneficial consequences of the desired change and, if this does not occur, the negative consequences of such a possibility. And all this with objectivity and serenity in words, gestures and tone of voice.

Fog bank

Another technique suggested by some is the Fog Bank, which consists in finding some limited point of truth where you can agree with what your antagonist is saying. Expressly stated, you can agree in part or agree in principle.

Negative interrogation

The negative interrogation consists in requesting further development in an affirmation or affirmations of critical content coming from another person. The objective is to show whether it is a constructive or manipulative criticism.

Strategies to develop in social situations

  • Respond to anxiety symptoms that you may feel with approach and not with escape or avoidance.
  • Keep in mind where you are and don't think you are somewhere else.
  • Greet people in a proper way and with a look in their eyes.
  • Listen carefully to people and mentally prepare a list of possible conversation topics.
  • Show that you want to talk. It may be good to do it initially with a question (since it focuses attention on the person who asks the question and is expected to answer).
  • Speak loud and clear, with proper intonation. Don't whisper
  • Try to endure some silences without getting nervous.
  • Wait for signals from others to decide where to sit, when to have a drink or what to talk about.
  • Learn to tolerate criticism.
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